Commercial dog foods come in all different sizes, forms, shapes and colors imaginable. Name it, dog food manufacturers have it. Pet dog owners are bombarded with a lot of pet food choices, so taking their pick of the best dog food can be quite a challenge. Things have become all the more complicated with all the negative publicity that big commercial dog food companies have been getting from their critics.

Let’s take an in depth look at commercial dog food and find out if they are really the finest dog food in town.

What is it?

Commercial dog foods are packaged foods you find at your local supermarket, pet store or veterinarian. It is available in dry, semi dry and wet (canned) varieties. Others come in natural, holistic, super-premium, and organic forms. Some look like viands, while others look like biscuits. Their makers all claim them to be the greatest dog food in terms of nutritional value, tastiness, and convenience in serving.

What constitutes dog food?

In theory, the ingredients included in every dog food vary, depending on the manufacturer and the brand, but most manufactured dog foods conform to the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These standards stipulate that dog foods must contain protein, the nutrient that supplies necessary amino acids like fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and the like; such protein can come from animal and/or plant sources. Together with protein, grains or other types of carbohydrates, fat, moisture, vitamins, and minerals are also added. Sounds like the best dog food formula, right?

Let’s just say you are one of those who go for convenience more than anything else. Here are a few key points that will help you understand the importance of choosing the finest dog food that suits your furry companion’s needs.

Dry or canned?

Pet dogs are just like humans who have different preferences. Dry dog food costs less per serving than semi-moist or canned foods and its nutrients are more concentrated, meaning you’ll need to feed less. This is due to the fact that dry food contains less moisture. The rule of thumb in choosing the greatest dog food that will give your pet optimum nutrition is: canned foods tend to be higher in fat and protein, with fewer carbohydrates; semi-moist foods contain humectants, such as sugar, to keep it from drying out; and dry foods will always contain some starch.

How much food and how often?

Package labels often overestimate how much food is needed, but vets advise using them as a guideline. Just watch out for physical signs of over or underfeeding your dog. After weaning, puppies should initially be fed three times a day until they’re about 16 weeks of age. This can be reduced to twice daily feedings after such period or you may wait for six months if you wish to or as directed by your vet. Adult dogs can be fed once or twice daily. Twice-daily feeding makes for better digestibility.

Is it all about the money?

Spending lavishly, thinking that you are giving your furry friend the best, Grade A dog food, doesn’t make perfect sense. When it comes to quality, price isn’t a good indicator especially for pet food.

How to choose?

Reading and understanding labels is an advantage. Dog food products have labels that state the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement, which indicates the food provides complete and balanced nutrition. It should also indicate a dog’s life stage for which the food is appropriate. These life stages include growth (appropriate for puppies), adult maintenance, gestation or lactation, senior (appropriate for older dogs), and “all life stages.” A food labeled “all life stages” can be used throughout a dog’s life, from weaning through adulthood.

When choosing the best dog food for your pet, consider your pet’s flavor preferences, lifestyle, medical conditions, and environment. Try one particular food on your dog for six to eight weeks and observe the effects. A shiny coat and a pet that looks healthy suggest that you continue feeding him with such food. If he produces a large volume of stools or acquires diarrhea, he may digestion problems. It’s more of a trial and error thing. You have to keep trying until you find the best.

Switching from A to B

If you think what you are presently giving to your pet is not the top dog food, you can switch to a different food, but you have to give an allowance of six to seven days to give your pet’s digestive system adequate time to adjust. Serve a mix that’s one-quarter new food, three-quarters existing food for the first two days. Change the mix to half-and-half for two days, then move to three-quarters new food, one-quarter existing food for the final two or three days.

Commercial dog foods are the most popular choice amongst dog owners by far. It is so convenient and reasonably priced. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. Most of these commercial dog food products are junk. Well, admittedly, not all commercial dog foods are killing our dogs – just most of them. Most, if not all, of them are deficient of the much needed nutrients of our dogs. Contrary to the claims the manufacturers make, their products are not as good as they seem. In fact, you may even find stuff that did not pass the standards set for foods for human consumption present in these products. It’s a wise move to make more money out of human food rubbish.

On the contrary, not all pet foods contain poor quality ingredients. But you have to be on your guard as a pet owner. Read and understand the labels in order for you to make an informed decision. If you find it hard to do so, ask your vet’s advice. In our quest for the best dog food, we might go astray; much to the detriment of our beloved pet’s well-being. So, keep yourself well-informed. Knowledge is power.