The Dos and Don’ts for Choosing a Good Dog Food

Feeding Your Dog

August 28, 2017

The Dos and Don’ts for Choosing a Good Dog Food

Have you ever walked into your local pet store and been completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of dog food options available?

We get it. Choosing a good dog food is confusing. Dog food brands often use convoluted language in their advertising, making it even more difficult to know what you’re feeding your dog.

To ensure your furry friends remain healthy and happy, check out our tips for choosing a good dog food.

A Wholesome Diet

A good starting point is to understand, like humans, dogs also need a wholesome, balanced diet.

Unlike people, dogs usually have one type of food to meet all of their nutritional needs. It is essential that the dog food you choose, meets your dogs nutritional needs.

 small black and white dog on pop up dog bed

A wholesome diet includes the following important features:

  1. Good quality protein.

As carnivores, dogs need protein and lots of it. Meat and water should be the primary components of your pet’s food.

Grains and carbohydrates have little place in a dog’s high protein diet. When choosing a good dog food, the quality and quantity of protein is the most important feature to look for.

  1. High moisture content.

In the wild, dogs prey on animals that are 70 percent water. Since our domesticated dogs aren’t hunting their food, we must ensure that the food we provide gives them what they need.

Without enough water, dogs are at risk for organ failure. If you’ve chosen to give your dog dry food, be especially aware of how much water your dog is getting. Dry food fed dogs can suffer from dehydration.

  1. Vitamins and minerals.

Just like humans, dogs need a wide range of vitamins and minerals to prevent deficiencies.

Luckily, the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials have established nutrient standards that all commercially made dog foods must follow.

When looking at the ingredients list of your dog’s food, just double check that a variety of vitamins make the list.

Ingredients to Avoid


  • Grains: Dogs are carnivores. They have little need for grains. The amount of grains in dog food should be minimal.

If there are more than 20% grains in a dog food, avoid it. Companies include grains because they’re cheaper than whole meat and help bind kibble together.

  • Non-Specific Meats: ‘Meat,’ ‘animal,’ and ‘poultry’ are all code for partial meat products. Your dog needs the real-deal, not a poor imitation.
  • By-Products: Not all by-products are bad, but if the label does not specify which by-products are in the food, avoid it.
  • Artificial Anything: Just like you, your dog should avoid artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, and preservatives.

Some of the most common are BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin and propyl gallate.

Ingredients to Look For

  • A Specific Meat: The first ingredient in your dog food should be one word, and one word only. ‘Chicken’, ‘beef’, ‘lamb’, ‘fish’ or ‘turkey’ are all good options.
  • The Word ‘Meal’: When reading the ingredient list of a good quality pet food, the specific meat should be followed by the word ‘meal.’

Meal indicates added nutrients, which rounds out the balanced diet you’re looking for.

  • Vegetables: Veggies are another good way to add much-needed vitamins and minerals to your dog’s diet.

Just be sure to avoid excessive potatoes, corn, and wheat. Vegetables should also be a supplement, not the main course.

We hope these tips will help you when choosing a good dog food for your furry family members.

But remember, these ideas are just an outline. You should also be considering what stage of life your dog is at when buying their food and any special dietary restrictions outlined by your vet.