Gone are the days of pouring a bowl of dry kibble into your dog’s bowl. There are so many options when it comes to feeding our beloved fur-iends, including dry, wet, and raw food, and it can be hard to determine which choice is the best for your pup. Luckily, your friends here at Kennel Key are looking out for you and your bestie. We have compiled a list of things to take into consideration when finding the right fuel for your fur baby.

  1. Talk to your vet

If you really want to provide your pet with the best nutrition possible, go straight to the source and ask your vet. Veterinarians can provide owners with information regarding nutrition and food concerns, such as allergies and weight management. If you feel your vet isn’t providing as much information as you would like as far as nutrition options, you can always set up a remote consultation with a veterinarian who specializes in animal nutrition. 

  1. Breed, age, & level of exercise

All of these aspects need to be taken into consideration when choosing the right food for your pet. Certain breeds need to avoid certain ingredients-for example, Dalmatians require a low purine diet.  Age also plays a role in determining how much food and what type of nutrients your dog may require. Senior dogs don’t require as many calories as puppies. With that being said, puppies also need to eat more often than older dogs. When it comes to activity level, just like humans, the more dogs move, the more food they need to fuel their bodies. So if your pup is a certified couch potato, he may not need as much food as the dog next door who is training for a marathon with their owner. 

  1. Read the ingredients

Just because your dog’s food contains ingredients that sound delicious, doesn’t mean they are necessarily the right choice for your pup or their palette. Dog food companies put certain buzzwords on their labels for marketing purposes, so don’t fall for these words because they sound “healthy”. Make sure you check the actual label and ensure that high quality ingredients are being used.  The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) created standards that can be found on food labels and will provide information on the content of the food. Food companies that meet or exceed the AAFCO standards guarantee that the nutrition value is present in their product. 

  1. Food Options
  • Dry Food-The most common of all food types when it comes to our pets. Known for its long shelf life, this food is typically the first choice of dog owners. The food consists of harder pieces of kibble (that help prevent tartar and buildup on teeth) that can be left in bowls for hours without growing any kind of bacteria. It is important to note that dry food has a lower water content compared to wet, so it doesn’t contribute to your pet’s hydration.  
  • Wet Food-This is a popular choice among pet owners with older pets. It is easier for pets to chew and swallow and has a much higher water content, which will help to keep pets hydrated. Its potency and intense flavor make it a popular choice for dogs. The downside of this option is, it cannot be left out and should be covered and refrigerated once your dog is finished eating. 
  • Raw diets- This option has become very popular as well as controversial in the last few years. The diet consists of -you guessed it- raw foods. This can include eggs, meat, bones, vegetables, organs, fruit, and dairy. Be prepared, raw diets can become very pricey, very quickly. As with everything, there are benefits and risks when feeding a raw diet. Benefits can include healthier skin and coats and higher energy levels, while the risks include bacteria transmission from raw meat (for both humans and pets) as well as an unbalanced diet. 
  • Grain-Free-This is another controversial option that has some vets questioning its potential links to heart related diseases in our pets. The idea behind this diet reverts back to wolves and their natural carnivorous diet. Grain-free is almost becoming another buzzword that gets easily confused with carb-free or gluten free. Grains aren’t necessarily bad for our dogs. If your dog has an allergy, it may be an option to eliminate grains-however, it is always important to talk to your vet about this option. 

With hundreds of different food options available, there really isn’t one right choice. With food, sometimes it comes down to trial and error. So if your pup doesn’t seem to really enjoy a particular flavor or brand of food or you think the food is causing side effects, try a different option. Keep in mind that you want to slowly transition them from one type of food to another. Putting all of the work and effort into researching and finding the best food for your pup, requires a little bit of upkeep. Stay on top of food recalls and safety concerns by following Dog Food Advisor. Keep in mind that no matter what food you decide to serve your pup, always make sure they have access to freshwater. Don’t forget to sign up for our free Kennel Key cookbook which includes 9 tasty recipes for your pup to enjoy!