How to Choose Healthy Food for Dogs

Learn how to choose healthy food for dogs and you may prolong your dog's life and make his extra years healthier and livelier. Good dog food can promote healthier organs, muscles, bones, eyes, mouth, fur and a better disposition. Young puppies have different nutritional needs than older puppies and dogs. Dietary needs also vary by size, physical condition and activity level.


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    Read the dog food package to see whether the food is meant for a puppy, an adult dog, a small dog or a large dog. To keep your dog healthy, his food must have ample good quality protein and adequate fat, fiber and moisture. Percentages of protein, fat, fiber and moisture are listed on the package.
    • Read the dog food label's guaranteed analysis for minimum crude protein, minimum crude fat, maximum crude fiber and maximum moisture.
    • Feed your dog food with ingredients of about 50 percent vegetable, 40 percent meat and 10 percent grain. These ingredients are not listed by percentage, so you have to estimate. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, those weighing most listed first.
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    Buy puppy food--which has more nutrients--for smaller and medium-sized puppies. Buy adult food for large breed puppies because they need to grow more slowly to avoid health problems such as hip dysplasia. Puppies of small, chunky breeds such as pugs or French bulldogs should also be fed dog adult food to avoid hip dysplasia. Puppies need more protein (about 22 percent on the label) and more fat than adult dogs.
    • Puppies up to about 6 months old will eat 2 to 4 times as much as an older dog. Their nutritional needs are critical up to about 14 weeks. Buy food produced for puppies unless they are larger or chunky breed dogs.
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    Buy food for adult dogs and older puppies with about 18 percent protein. Active puppies and dogs need more fat. Compare labels of different brands to find a food with adequate protein and, if you have an active dog, more fat. Some of the highest quality dog foods have about 15 percent fat.
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    Buy food with natural or organic ingredients if your budget allows.
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    Feed your dog food without corn, cornmeal, wheat and soy because grains can cause allergies and are hard to digest. Buy dog food with brown rice, rolled oats, millet, barley and quinoa.
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    Feed your dog food with digestible carbohydrate and protein sources. Rice, oats and yeast are good sources of carbohydrates. Fish is more easily digested than muscle and organ meats.
    • Buy food without animal byproducts like feet, heads or other parts of feed stock that aren't nutritious.
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    Buy premium food. Buying cheaper food may save money in the short term, but economy brands may result in an unhappy, less-healthy dog and more veterinarian bills in the long-term.
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    Buy food with vitamins C and E, as those vitamins act as natural preservatives. Some experts believe artificial preservatives may cause health problems.


  • Meal--chicken meal for example, contains as much as 300 percent more protein than fresh chicken meat. Your dog may get more protein with food that has a vegetable listed as the first ingredient and meat, fowl or fish meal as the second ingredient.
  • Assess a dog's proper weight by look and by feeling his ribcage. You should be able to feel his ribs but not see them. When looking down, hips should be visible, and when looking from the side the stomach should slope up toward the back legs. If these criteria aren't met, you may feed your dog too much. If you can see his ribs, feed him more.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about what type food is best for your dog.


  • To prevent your dog from begging, instruct everyone in the family not to feed him from the table.

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Categories: Feeding Dogs