How to choose the best quality dry dog food

Updated April 17, 2017

Choosing a high quality dry dog food is challenging if you don't know what to look for. Choices seem endless, ingredients lists are confusing, and prices are tempting. Your dog needs meat and protein for optimal health, and knowing which ingredients to look for--and which to avoid--will help you find a food that will keep your dog healthy and satisfied. Because it offers nutritional benefit in healthy doses, high quality dog food is a smart investment for you and your dog's health.

Buy dry dog food that list meat as a first ingredient; the first ingredient is the one with the most weight. Feed your dog protein from ingredients like chicken, lamb or beef.

Look for a dog food with a first ingredient of chicken meal or lamb meal rather than just chicken or lamb, as the meal has more meat and less water.

Avoid kibble with the listed ingredient of "meat by-products," as these are leftover parts of the animal with little or no meat, such as head, spleen or intestines, according to Henry Pasternak in Healing Animals with Nature's Cures. Wag and Train Animal Behavior Specialists recommend avoiding the ingredients animal digest, animal fat, meat by-products and chicken by-product meal.

Don't buy food with fillers listed as the first or main ingredients. Common fillers to avoid include corn, corn gluten meal, brewer's rice and beet pulp, as these are foods with little nutritional value that companies use to bulk up foods and make your dog feel full.

Avoid sweeteners like corn syrup, as companies often add them to low-quality dog food to make them more appealing to dogs.

Don't buy foods with meat and bone meal or beef and bone meal, as the protein they contain is difficult for dogs to digest and may not provide them with needed nutrition, according to Feed My Pet.

Don't let low prices tempt you. Veterinarian T. J. Dunn, Jr. at the Pet Center reports that though food with unhealthy filler ingredients is less expensive than foods with more meat, it will cost the same amount because dogs need to eat more of the low-quality food to meet their nutritional needs.

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