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How to Choose the Right Food for your Dog

29 Jul Posted by in Health & Fitness | 26 comments
How to Choose the Right Food for your Dog
 

Choosing the right dog food for your dog can be an overwhelming process. There are so many choices these days, from grain free, to de-hydrated, to raw – how the heck are you supposed to pick one?

Open Farm Ethically Raised Dog Food Review & Giveaway // Ammo the Dachshund

While my mom claims to be no pet food nutrition expert, she thought it would be helpful if we gave you some handy tips as to how she chooses pet foods for me.

March Breakfast Barkbox // Ammo the Dachshund $5 off with code AMMO5

For starters I’ve been on a rotational diet since I was just a wee pup. What this means is that each time I get to the end of a bag of dog food, mom switches me to a different brand of food. Who wants to eat the same food every day of their life? Not me! Plus mom believes that different foods have different nutritional benefits, so rotating foods makes sure I get the best of all of them (at least thats the theory). This rotational diet may not work for all dogs, especially ones that may have sensitivities to certain things, or are on special dietary restrictions due to health reasons. So it’s best to know what might work for your own dog and your own situation.

Tips for Keeping your Pet Trim // Ammo the Dachshund

Now while many people might defer to their veterinarian for feeding recommendations, I’ve found that while vets are schooled in medical issues, most of them are not trained in pet nutrition. Many of them just recommend what’s suggested within their industry, and while that’s not to say it’s always a bad suggestion, my mom feels that doing her own research will provide me with the best choice in food.

March Breakfast Barkbox // Ammo the Dachshund $5 off with code AMMO5

So before I dive into what my mom looks for in a pet food, lets talk about the different types of dog foods:

Dry: The “kibble” most people are familiar with. It travels and stores well, but is considered a more processed food because the ingredients aren’t fresh.

Wet: What many people might call “canned food”, this food is kept moist and easy for most dogs to ingest. It is much more perishable because of this.

De-Hydrated: This is essentially raw foods that have been dehydrated to lock in the nutrients. It’s less processed than dry food, but can take time to prepare as it typically needs water to “plump up”.

Raw: Fresh whole foods in their purest form. Typically you have to buy meats frequently to maintain freshness, and ingredients have to be handled properly to prevent illnesses to your dog.

Homemade: Fresh ingredients that are selected by the owner, and made to their own specifications. You have to have a thorough knowledge of what your dog can eat and may need, and it does take a good bit of dedication to make.

Sleepypod Yummy Travel Bowl Product Review & Giveaway via Ammo the Dachshund

I have never eaten Raw or Homemade dog food, mostly because mom doesn’t know a ton about feeding these types, and more importantly because of my lifestyle. I sometimes eat dinner at home, other times on the farm, and frequently at work – so these types would not travel well or keep as fresh in these situations.

I’ve tried Wet food before (when I was a puppy), but I wasn’t a super big fan of it, not to mention it also doesn’t travel well either. My pal Trooper eats a scoop of it everyday in all his meals and loves it, so it may depend on your own dog.

What I do eat is Dry (which is what I have eaten since I was a puppy), and more recently I am testing out De-Hydrated food as well. In the coming weeks I will be reviewing some of my picks for both types of food, so stay tuned for that!

JClay Pottery Dog Bowl Review & Giveaway // Ammo the Dachshund

So since I’m most familiar with Dry & De-Hydrated Pet Foods, lets talk about what my mom looks for when choosing a brand for me to eat.

Dog Food Ingredients

What to look for when choosing a pet food:

  • Small Breed Size: When possible I try to eat a small breed formula because as a small dog I need more calories to fuel my fast metabolism. Most small breed foods are formulated for this, and they also come in a smaller size which makes it easier for small dogs to chew.
  • Adult Food: Since I’m only 6, I like to pick a food that is formulated for adult dogs (if I were a puppy or senior dog I would look for something formulated for this). Different life stages require different formulas, and these types take that into consideration. When I turn double digits I may start looking into a senior formula.
  • Meat: As far as ingredients are concerned I always look to make sure the first ingredient in a pet food is always meat. Specifically avoiding any foods that list “meat-meal” or just “meat” (not specifying the type) and “by-product”. Whole meats are always my top choice in a food, but many dry foods that I have seen still contain products such as “chicken meal” or “fish meal”. Dry Foods are still processed so I think it would likely be pretty hard to avoid any type of meat meal if you’re feeding this.
  • Origin: I would never feed anything made in China due to all the issues we have been hearing about in the news lately associated with dog deaths and health issues. I prefer my food to be made in the USA and Canada.
  • Un-Healthy Ingredients: There are certain things that should not be in a dog food. See the chart above for some examples of what I wouldn’t want in a pet food.
  • Healthy Ingredients: There are many ingredients that are healthy and great for a dog to be eating (see chart above for examples).
  • Grain-Free: Grain Free foods simply means that the food does not contain any unhealthy fillers such as wheat, corn, soy, and barely. Some alternatives that are healthier for your dog would be a food that contains: white potatoes, green peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and chickpeas. Research has showed that grains were never really part of the diet that our wild dog ancestors may have eaten. Many dogs have sensitivities to grains in their foods, but even if they don’t eating grain free may still improve their digestion and skin & coat health.
  • Protein: A high protein food can help with easier digestion and nutritional absorption. It can also mean better bathroom visits for your pet. So I look for a food that has a higher protein percentage.
  • Reviews & Recalls: I always check to see if a brand has any recent recalls, and I search the web to see what types of company reviews they have. Steer clear of any brands that might have a history of a lot of recalls, and bad customer reviews.

Can you spot which of these foods my mom wouldn’t feed me based on the ingredients?…. (click on the images to view them larger)

Pedigree Pet Food Label

 

Trufood Ingredients List

Without naming names, the second label pictured is a much better choice, and one of the brands I eat myself. You’ll notice with the yellow label the very first ingredient was Corn, followed by “meat and bone meal” (which doesn’t even specify what kind of meat it is), and also included a lot of dyes that weren’t healthy. Definitely a product I would be steering clear of personally.

Following these guidelines for choosing foods, my mom also does the same for any treats or cookies she feeds me.

Happy Thanksgiving // Ammo the Dachshund

While my search for great pet foods never really ends, here’s the current list of foods that I have been rotating through my diet:

Stay tuned for a few reviews coming up soon on my blog with some of these foods, I’ll also be giving away some pet food to some lucky readers too! *contains affiliate links

Tips for Keeping your Pet Trim // Ammo the Dachshund

For recommendations on how to keep your dog looking trim, you might want to check to check out one of my past posts on 5 tips for keeping your pet trim. Which also includes how much food I actually eat on a daily basis!

What brands and type of food do you feed your dog? Any recommendations you suggest and think I will love? Do tell!

Thanks to Reviews.com and the PetsMart Food Center for helping me with some great information for this post! Ammo the Dachshund // Blog Signature // Celebrity

Disclaimer: this post is meant to be a general guide for choosing dog foods. Ammo nor his parents are pet nutrition experts, and if you are unsure about what to feed you should always consult a vet or pet nutrition expert first. What works for Ammo may not work for all dogs, and feeding what we feed may not be recommended for all dogs and all situations. We are not responsible for any issues or illnesses that may result from feeding what we feed our own dog.

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  1. Lu-Ann07-29-15

    My guy loves Stella and Chewy’s chicken or beef patties.
    For wet, he loves Weruva Funky chunky Chicken soup and Weruva Hot Dayam!

    The soup look better and has better ingredients than most soups for humans!

    • Ammo07-29-15

      I did hear Stella & Chewy’s patties just had some recalls on those a few weeks ago, so you might want to check if you have any of them on hand. I hadn’t heard of the Weruva soup, but will have to look into that! Thanks for the tips!

  2. Hotdoghill Sanctuary- a place for special needs dogs07-29-15

    we rotate dry each month- and ours all love a little topping as a treat sometimes, canned salmon, canned food, cottage cheese, yogurt

  3. Heidi07-29-15

    Reggie (5) and Newton (2) have been eating Blue Buffalo Wilderness dry Small Bites since they became family. We tried switching to Blue Buffalo’s Grain-Free food but it caused issues in Reg so we switched back.
    I sometimes add a spoonful of canned pumpkin to their breakfasts, as our vet said it helps their digestion when they eat…questionable things. Which is all the time, of course.
    Love to you and your family, Ammo!

  4. Kelli07-29-15

    All of the furry members of my family are eating grain-free diets. Diggory (dog) loves his Salmon Tunalini from Fromm Family Foods and Chloe and Oliver (cats) love the Surf and Turf, also from Fromm. Everyone primarily gets dry kibble but I also provide GF canned food, especially for the cats for the higher water content.

    My foster kittens have also been eating grain-free foods since they’ve been 6 weeks old (they are now 13 weeks). Switching them to GF has had wonderful effects on their coats and bathroom output (ha!). Though I haven’t been able to track any increases in energy because, well… kittens. They’re always energetic. 😉

  5. Lara Carver07-30-15

    My vet has always recommend a rotation diet of quality food because he says it helps prevent allergies and none of the 7 here have food allergies. He also recommends wellness, blue buffalo, and taste of the wild.

    • Ammo the Dachshund07-30-15

      Good to hear rotational diets are becoming vet recommended too! Makes sense about allergies. I don’t have any allergies, but I’ve always been a bit sensitive to dairy. Those yogurt topped dog cookies….one bite….and I vomit in seconds! Eek!

  6. Angela Bovair07-30-15

    Never thought about a rotation before. My boys eat Wellness core. I bet they would like a change from time to time.

    • Ammo the Dachshund07-30-15

      More and more we hear about the benefits of feeding a variety. Plus who wants to eat the same kibble every single day!

  7. Karen Meloche Youngs07-31-15

    Great info! Your rotational diet sounds pretty cool!

  8. Barbara Miller07-31-15

    Aw thanks

  9. Alex Hache07-31-15

    I went to some independent dog food analysis website and tried some of their top tiers brands. Mostly not sold in markets. We ended up with taste of the wild pet food and we switch between 3 flavors.

  10. Cathy Thompson07-31-15

    Thank your Mom for the wonderful information. My Jasmine is a beautiful girl but, I hate to admit, is a little overweight. Great info and I’m going to go back over the previous post too. Thanks again Ammo.

    • Ammo the Dachshund07-31-15

      Glad to help. It can be hard to keep us pups at the ideal weight, especially when we love to eat, eat, eat. But my mom has found that the recommended feeding amounts on the dog food bags are always too much for me. So I always get less than the recommended amount. I’m happy to say I’ve never been overweight yet.

  11. Juliet Whitfield08-01-15

    Ammo try some Sojos. It’s freeze dried whole food. You can take it to work, to the farm and have some in the car. It’s easy and so much more nutritious than kibble

  12. Chelsea08-01-15

    My two girls are eating Fromm small breed and loving it, lots of energy! I just switched my boy to Orijen regional red. It’s potato and grain free. My boy tends to have a lot of yeast so we are hoping the potato free will help cut down on that.

  13. Julie08-04-15

    Thanks for the information Ammo. This is the first time that I have heard about a rotational diet. Do you have problems switching between foods? I was told to taper new foods in when making a change to avoid loose stools. Love your blog!

    • Ammo08-04-15

      I’ve never had any problem switching between foods (but I have been doing it since I was a puppy). Mom usually mixes the new bag in slowly. But to be honest on foods I’ve been on most of my life (blue buffalo & wellness specifically) she doesn’t blend them in for too long since she already knows I have no problem eating them. Maybe just a day or 2. It can all depend on the dog though. I don’t have any food allergies either so if your dog does a rotational diet may not work as well.

  14. Linda caprini11-16-16

    We switched to honest kitchen six months ago and our guys love it.
    We rotate from there wide choices they have and they our doing well on it.
    This is thanks to you Ammo we read your review on it so we tried it.

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