When you are walking down the food aisle in your local pet store you will notice a large variety of pet foods out there. This may be overwhelming but it is important to do some research about what you are going to feed your dog. Puppies have very different nutritional requirements than an adult dog since they are growing. Some food companies even specialize puppy foods into small and large breeds. It is very important for puppies to eat puppy food and for adult dogs to eat adult food. Remember to measure out the amount of food your are feeding your dog so that you can be sure they are getting enough nutrition without over feeding, resulting in obesity.

While many of the high quality foods seemed to be costly, in the long run they can actually be more economical. Most high quality foods do not contain fillers. As a result you feed less food to your dog because they can digest more of it. The other bonus is they poop less so you clean less. My fifty pound dog only eats one and one third cups of food a day because her food contains no fillers. Also many foods contain corn, barley, soy, as well as artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. Many dogs are allergic to these foods and additives. These things may result in digestion problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and skin problems so try and avoid them. Higher quality foods are also formulated with proper amino acids so your dogs coat will also become soft and shiny.

No matter how hard the companies try it is impossible for them to make a food with no nutritional deficiencies or excesses that will fulfill every animals needs. Dogs and cats are designed to consume a range of different foods so by rotating their foods you will also help them get the nutrition they thrive on. Food rotation also prevents animals from becoming bored with their food and more importantly helps prevent the development of food allergies. This only works if the foods you are rotating between have different main ingredients. Rotating every three months or sooner between three or four high quality foods is ideal. You can change food gradually over a week’s time to prevent any digestive problems. If you do decide to rotate between companies you not only want to make sure that you’re rotating the main ingredients but you also want to make sure that you are feeding a food appropriate for your dogs age and lifestyle unless you are using all life stages foods. If your dog is a puppy rotate puppy foods, if your dog is an adult rotate between adult foods and if your dog is a senior rotate between senior foods. And for those high active dogs feel free to rotate between high protein grain free foods.

When choosing a high quality food there are several things you want to look for. Stay away from sales gimmicks and labels and do the research yourself. Words like organic, holistic, and all natural are not regulated in the pet food industry like they are in human foods. Make sure the ingredients on the label are foods you recognize. Avoid foods with fillers such as soy, wheat, cornmeal, and white rice. These foods provide no nutritional value to your pet and often cause allergies. Beware of animal by-products. Animal by-products can be good or bad depending on the quality. AAFCO defines meat by-products as, “the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food.” As many of us know lung, and liver are packed with nutrients so why would by-products be a problem. This has to do with the quality of the by-product. Many by-products come from “4-D” meat sources. These are meat sources that have been determined to be unfit for human consumption because they arrived at the slaughter house “Dead, Dying, Diseased or Disabled.” High quality food companies that use any by-products often use high quality by-products but if it makes you more comfortable feel free to stay away from them. Also look for foods with meat meal. Meal is meat which has had the water removed so it is highly concentrated protein and nutrients which are easy for the body to absorb. Finally stay away from artificial food colorings and preservatives including but not limited too BHA, and BHT.

Check out http://naperdoodles.com/dogfood.htm for step by step instructions and a useful list of high quality pet foods.

Looking for more information on how to read food labels? Check out http://www. dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=betterproducts