Choosing the Right Food for Your Dog

Updated on November 29, 2016

Dogs. They're your best friend. They're the ones who drive you insane but you still love the crap out of them anyway. And they love you. Unconditionally. Forever. So isn't the kind of food you're feeding to them important? Surprisingly, a lot of people don't believe it is. In fact, as a former employee of Petsmart, I used to hear people come in everyday and complain about all the different choices of dog food that the company carries. They'd make a comment about how the foods are all the same and then they'd walk out the door with the cheapest bag. But the truth is not all dog food is the same. Some if it is actually very bad for your dog. In this article I won't tell you what food you should buy or mention any specific brands but I will give you a few tips to aid in the search for the right food for your furry best friend.

Meat Should Always Be the First Ingredient

While dogs can eat plant material, evidence shows that they are carnivores and as such, it's much easier for them to digest meat. But beware, just because meat is the first ingredient doesn't mean it has a lot of meat in it. Usually, ingredients are weighed before they are processed so the weight of the meat is actually much less after processing. Also, always look for specifically named animals, such as lamb or chicken meal. Seeing a generic "animal fat" is a red flag because that meat could've come from anywhere (including roadkill or a bunch of different animals from leftover products at slaughterhouses). Bottom line: if meat is not the first ingredient then it is likely a food with lots of filler plant materials that have little to no nutritional value for your pet.

Thor | Source

Know What Preservatives Are Being Used

Generally dog foods will list what preservatives were used along with the ingredients. Some preservatives are very harmful to your dog, such as BHA and BHT, which are known carcinogens. Your dog food should be preserved with natural preservatives, like tocopherol.

Know Your Dog's Specific Needs

Dogs have different needs based on their breed, lifestyle, and age. For example, large breed dogs should have glucosamine in their diet because it helps prevent the hip and joint problems that are common in large dogs. Puppys also need specially formulated foods to help stabilize growth patterns and to help with development. You should research your dogs specific needs in order to find the right food.

Bottom Line

Always make sure to research a food before giving it to your dog: know the ingredients, know the preservatives, know any recalls on the food, and read about other people's experience with the food. Don't believe everything on the bag. Just like human food companies, dog food companies spin the truth too. For example, some dog food companies claim that their food is made in the U.S., but most of the ingredients are sourced from a different country.

If you switch your dogs food, make sure to do it gradually (over a period of 10 days is what is usually recommended.) If you don't do this, your furry friend could have an upset stomach for a few days. Diarrhea after switching foods is pretty common, but if it lasts for more than a week you should stop giving your dog that food and consider seeing a vet. Your dog might have an allergy. Another sign of an allergy is a rash, usually forming on the dogs underbelly.

Good luck to you and your pet on your journey to find the best food!


What brand of food does your dog eat?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Danielle Hussey


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Intuitive Clarity profile image


        2 years ago from Texas

        Great info! Thanks so much. I'm always wondering if my little Watson is getting enough nutrients and often supplement what I feed him with small amounts of healthy people food.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)