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How to Find the Best Dog Food at the Right Price

Adult Dog eating from a food bowlIt’s not wrong to want to save money on certain things to enjoy other luxuries, but does it really make sense to skimp on your dog’s food and get the “cheap” brand? Definitely not! Your dog is a wonderful friend, and he deserves a meal that will help keep him healthy for many years to come. The question then becomes, how will you know the dog food you’re considering purchasing is up to snuff? Let’s take a look.

Portions adapted from Pet Food Ingredients: How to Strike the Right Balance and What Does Made in the USA Mean for Pet Food?

1. Is Your Dog Food Balanced with Quality Nutrients?
“All animals need water, energy — from protein, fat, or carbohydrates — essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals,” says Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, and Professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center. In fact, as long as all nutrients are present in appropriate amounts for your dog — in proper balance, and available for absorption in sufficient quantities (which can’t be determined from reading the label) — Dr. Buffington believes that the source (of dog food ingredients) is irrelevant to the health of the dog.

What about balance? “Balance is important because of metabolism,” says Joe Bartges, DVM, PhD and Professor of Medicine and Nutrition at The University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “If you don't eat a lot of carbohydrates and eat more protein, some of the protein has to be used for glucose production for energy. It is this balance which leads to efficiency [when eating].” This need for balance is essential in all your dog food’s nutrients, and is the reason why reputable pet food companies hire trained veterinary nutritionists to select ingredients carefully. Which brings us to…

2. Is Your Dog Food Formulated by Nutritionists?
Formulating your dog’s food is not easy. In fact, quality dog food manufacturers employ pet nutritionists who must properly balance key ingredients in the dog foods (sometimes numbering more than 50 ingredients) as well as individual nutrients and minerals to help maintain your dog at optimal health. The best pet food manufacturers don’t just stop there, though. They also submit their dog food formulas for feeding trials.

3. Has Your Dog Food Undergone Feeding Trials?
According to Ashley Gallagher, DVM at Friendship Hospital for Animals, AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) feeding trials are the gold standard when it comes to feeding trials for dog foods. Dog foods that have been substantiated via this type of feeding trial have been fed to dogs under strict guidelines and found to provide proper nutrition. Look for a statement on your dog’s food label that reads: “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [Name of Dog Food Company] provides complete and balanced nutrition."

For the complete article on 5 Ways to Know Your Dog Food is Worth the Money, visit petMD.

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