by Good Dog People August 20, 2020 7 min read

Wondering what’s the best dog food for dogs? Curious to know what are the top dog food brands available? The truth is there isn’t just one best dog food.In fact, picking the right pet food can be a challenge all in itself. After all, every dog is different. Depending on whether they’re big, small, young or old, the type of dog food that’s best for your pup can be wildly different. Let’s take a look at what makes a particular brand or type of dog food great for your dog and how you can pick the best diet for your pup!

What does 'best' mean?

Dog Food 101: What Is The Best Dog Food?

Much like with us humans, the kind of diet your dog has can affect a great deal of their life. A healthy diet not only helps your pup live longer, it also improves their quality of life. This is especially important as they age, because their nutritional needs change over time.

This is also why there is no definitive “Best” dog food out there. Dog food varies in type, ingredients and nutrition. So it’s much more important to pick the rightbrand of dog food rather than the best. But there are some universal criteria you should always look at when you’re picking dog food for your pup. In other words, always read the labels before purchasing any dog food.

No Artificial Additives

The first thing you want to look out for is any artificial flavouring, colors or preservatives. These additives are often added to make dog food more palatable or longer lasting. They’re also more common in cheaper dog food because of how inexpensive they are compared to their natural counterparts.

However, over time the consumption of certain types of these artificial ingredients can have negative effects on your pup’s health. In particular, avoid dog food that contain preservatives like Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Tert-butyl Hydroquinone (TBHQ), Propyl Gallate and Ethoxyquin. A better alternative is picking good dog food with natural preservatives like Citric Acid, Rosemary Extract or Tocopherols (Vitamin E). These natural preservatives may not last as long as artificial ones, but they’re much safer for consumption.

No Sweeteners

Did you know that many dogs actually have a sweet tooth? That’s why another common additive in cheaper pet food is artificial sweeteners like sucrose or corn syrup. These sweeteners improve the taste of dog food, especially if they’re lacking in other tasty protein and fats.

While these sweeteners are generally non-toxic for dogs, they’re high in calories and can cause undesirable weight gain. Consumption of dog food with artificial sweeteners can also negatively affect your pup’s nutrition. Instead, if you’re picking out a sweet treat for your pup or new dog food, look out for natural taste enhancers like berries, apples, carrots or honey. These natural ingredients are much healthier alternatives.

    Different types of dog food

    Outside of looking out for artificial additives, think about your pup and family’s lifestyle. Do you have time to prepare food every day? Is your pup particularly picky? Do they have any health conditions that need to be addressed? Here’s an overview of some of the types of dog food you can get for your pup:

    DRY DOG FOOD

    One of the most common types of dog food and commercially available almost anywhere, dry dog food tends to be cheaper and is one of the easiest to store and feed. For busy pet parents, picking a nutritious recommended dry dog food is extra important.

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      WET DOG FOOD

      For picky pups, wet dog food is some of the tastiest meals a dog can get. High in water content, these cans of dog food are not only aromatic and deliciously meaty, they’re also great for helping keep your pup’s hydration levels up. The high water content in wet food can be also a life saver for dogs with kidney disease. Plus, wet dog food can also be used as a meal topper to help picky dogs interested in their food!

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      DEHYDRATED/ AIR DRIED DOG FOOD

      Other than adding preservatives to food, another way of keeping dog food fresh longer is by gently cooking and drying the food to remove all moisture. This is known as air-drying or dehydrating; The low temperature heating process preserves all the nutrients and enzymes without needing any sort of artificial preservatives. It’s also a good compromise between the ease of dry dog food while having the benefits of a raw diet!

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      FREEZE DRIED DOG FOOD

      High in protein, raw dog food diets can have positive health benefits like better digestion and a shiner coat. However, these diets also take extra care to prepare as they can sometimes contain dangerous bacteria and pathogens like Salmonella if handled poorly. A healthy and safe option for raw dog food is to put food through a freeze drying process. Freeze-dried raw dog food retains maximum nutritional value while presenting itself as a convenient fresh raw alternative.

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      FRESH FROZEN DOG FOOD

      Fresh frozen dog food is generally raw or gently cooked. The natural and gentle way of processing fresh frozen dog food allows it to retain most of its original nutrients, without any artificial additives. With the added benefit of being extra palatable, fresh frozen dog is a great dietary option especially if Fido needs an extra boost in flavour and nutrition!

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      Looking at your pup's needs

      Picking the right dog food for your dog also involves understanding their nutritional needs. These needs are often determined by their age, size and other health conditions.

      GRAIN-FREE DRY DOG FOOD

      One of the biggest questions many pet parents ask is whether grain-free dog food is better than “regular” dog food. To some, grain may seem nonessential, but grains are actually a great source of carbohydrates. For active pups, grain diets are great. They also contain nutrients like protein, essential fatty acids and a lot of fiber, which aids in digestion.

      So why go grain-free? Grain-free diets can be beneficial for pups with food allergies, digestive issues or weight management problems. However, it’s important to note that eliminating grain from your pup’s diet doesn’t mean their diet is no carbohydrate. In fact, these grains are often replaced with carbohydrates like potatoes, peas and lentils, but may still contain less calories. Of course, carbohydrates should not be entirely removed from your dog’s diet as it plays an important role. Much like protein, carbohydrates provide much needed energy for your pup!

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      SIZE SPECIFIC DOG FOOD

      Even the size of your dog can determine what is the right diet for them. Despite how they look, small dogs actually have and need more energy than their larger counterparts. This also means they need a lot more calories than big dogs, as their tiny bodies have very fast metabolisms.However, it’s also important to note that small dogs can also gain weight very quickly. Hence, small and big dog diets need to have a different nutritional composition. To combat this, some pet parents also feed small breed dogs more often throughout the day, in order to maintain their energy levels.

      Another reason to take note of your dog’s size is because large and small dogs are predisposed to different types of health issues as they age. Large breed dogs place a lot of pressure on their joints when they walk and run. Over time, this snowballs, predisposing them to orthopedic problems, making diets that support bone and joint health especially important for big dogs. However, while there are commercial diets designed for different breeds, it’s also important to consult your vet before switching your pup’s diets. After all, not only does your pup’s breed change their nutritional needs, their lifestyle and individual quirks do too.

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      Different dog food for different life stages

      Other than your pup’s breed, it’s also important to feed your pup based on the life stage they’re in. As your pup grows from a puppy, to an adult and to a senior dog, their nutritional needs change as their general characteristics and lifestyle will alter with time. But what are the main differences between dog food for these different life stages?

      PUPPY FOOD

      Puppies grow fast. In the first two to three years of their life, puppies will have grown to their full adult size. With this level of growth, puppies need much more protein than adult dogs do. Proteins are basically amino acids that are great in helping to build your pup’s muscle and tissue, allowing your dog to grow healthy and strong.

      The types of proteins a puppy needs also greatly differs from adult dogs as young pups need almost double of amino acids like Argine, Histidine and Leucine in their diets. In adult dogs, the high levels of protein in puppy food can cause undesirable weight gain. But for puppies, an energy dense diet is essential for them to avoid developmental problems.

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      ADULT DOG FOOD

      Also known as a maintenance diet, adult dog food differs greatly in terms of nutritional composition compared to puppy and senior dog food. Formulated to help maintain your pup’s health, most premium adult food options are built to be the whole package - with enough protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients to sustain your pup. Not sure when to transition your pup from puppy to adult food or from adult to senior dog food? Check out our article discussing thishere.

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      SENIOR DOG FOOD

      On the other side of the coin,senior dogs generally don’t need as much protein as their younger counterparts. As they age, dogs experience slower metabolic rates and also tend to be less active. This means they expend much less energy than younger dogs and can gain weight easily. Furthermore, senior dogs are more susceptible to health conditions like diabetes, kidney failure or liver disease.

      In order to reduce the risk or impact of these diseases, senior dog food is generally formulated much differently from adult dog food. For instance, senior dog diets can contain higher levels of fiber and higher-quality protein to aid in digestion and kidney function, reducing the risk of constipation and other health issues.

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      In the end, picking the right dog food for your pup can sound like a challenge, but all it takes is a little effort and research on your part. Plus, the benefits of a healthy diet for your pup far outweighs the work needed to decide on a brand of dog food. If you’re still uncertain on what kind of dog food is best for your dog, consult a veterinarian to get a better understanding of your pup’s nutritional needs.

       


      Tammi ChngTAMMI CHNG
      Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.

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