A Complete Dog Food Buying Guide


A dog happily wagging its tail is a heart-melting experience to dog-owners, and they’d do anything to keep it going. Well, feeding your dog the right diet is a sure way to achieve this. With a proper diet, you enable the dog to live longer as it develops a stronger immune system. Your dog will have a shinier and fuller coat, high energy levels, and their digestive system will be on track.

Now that we’ve established the importance of a proper diet, the next step is identifying the best dog food for your dog. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of different dog foods out there in the market. Additionally, they come in various forms and have different ingredients. All this might be mind-boggling to figure out if you are new to buying dog food. For this reason, here is a comprehensive guide to follow when buying dog food.

Different Life Stages

The first thing you take into consideration should be the life stage of your dog. Different life stages determine the proper balance in protein, fats, and fiber. However, the life stage age differs depending on the breed and activity levels.

Puppy food (below one year old) – The food should have a proper ratio of protein to fat as this will ensure the puppy keeps growing steadily and that the process is not too accelerated or too slow for proper joint and bone development.

Adult (1-6 years old) – This food should also have a proper fat to protein ratio to facilitate normal activity levels while avoiding the risk of weight gain.

Performance/Active dogs – Sport and active working dogs need dog food that has added protein, antioxidants, and fat. This will help maintain the dog’s weight and general body conditioning.

Senior (6+years) – The diet for such dogs should be lower on protein and fat but have more fiber levels to ensure the proper weight, especially considering that they have lower activity levels. Glucosamine is also recommended for joint health.

Weight management: If your dog is over the vet recommended weight, the diet should have lower fat and protein levels and high on fiber to cut on weight but ensure the dog is full.


Ensure that there are two meat sources in the first five ingredients of the dog food you’re considering. These meat sources could be beef, salmon, lamb, chicken or turkey. The ideal dog food should have meat in its top two ingredients.

The next thing to look for is grains. Grains are a good source of carbs. Dogs quickly digest them for energy. However, some people argue that grains lead to inflammation in dogs that could lead to cancer and heart disease.

There is the option of grain-free dog food. Such food is believed to be closer to what a dog should take naturally. This diet is mostly considered for dogs that show food allergies or sensitive stomachs. If you go for grain-free dog food, ensure that it has lots of meat and sweet potatoes too. This food can be found in both canned and dry forms.

Some vets are in support of whole grains claiming that they are dull of proteins, minerals, and fiber. The downside is that grain free dog food is oftentimes more costly than dog food that has grains.

Commonly used terms in Dog Food

Some dog foods list ingredients as “open formula,” which means that there are no specific ingredients. For instance, a dog food brand might list meat as an ingredient but will not specify the kind of meat they used.

Dog foods that list ingredients as fixed formula will have specific ingredients outlined such as chicken, salmon, maize, and rice. You’ll be able to tell the value you are getting for your money.

A ‘complete’ dog food brand has all the key ingredients and nutrients that your dog requires to stay healthy. Such food will contain carbs, fat, minerals, and vitamins.

Mixers are filler dog food that might be missing some of the nutrients your dog needs. They comprise of cereals and are mostly used to beef up a dog’s diet. If you are looking to buy high-quality dog food, you could combine it with a mixer to bring down the cost.

Canned Wet Dog Food vs. Dry Dog Food

You’ll need to make a decision about whether to go for dry or wet food. Here are some of the points to note on these foods.


Canned wet foods are suitable for dogs that require more fat or moisture in their diets. They are high in protein and last for long if they remain unopened. This food is, in most cases, palatable for all dogs. Most dogs will prefer this food to dry food. This is because it has a more appealing smell and taste. However, it is made up of 80% moisture, which translates to only 20% of goodness. It can also be messy.

These foods often have higher fat and protein content. As a result, some dogs might gain weight rapidly when put on a diet of this food.


Dry dog food is considered the best for dogs. This is because it promotes dental hygiene in dogs from the chewing action and is low on fat. This food is also easy to measure and store, is lower in cost, and leads to firm stools in dogs.

However, dogs might not enjoy dry dog food and will be fussy as it is not as appealing as wet dog food.

High quality vs. budget dog food

You are better off buying top quality dog food to budget dog food. These brands invest in better quality ingredients. With high-end dog foods, you get 40%-60% protein, while cheaper options only have 10-20% protein.

Budget dog food brands use cheap ingredients and fillers to beef up their food, and the result is a lower quality product.

Once you select a dog food, ensure that you stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines. These will ensure that you feed your dog the recommended amount. Different brands may recommend different amounts, and you might have to measure it out. Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to canine obesity.


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