Americans spend about $10 billion a year on commercial dog food, and there are plenty of commercials on TV touting different brands as the best. But with so many to choose from, deciding which dog food to buy can be confusing. Our pet pro, Luciano Aguilar, is here with a little advice.
"People ask me all the time, 'Luciano, what should I feed my dog?' Well, there really isn't an easy answer. Like people, dogs are individuals and what works for one dog may not work for another," he explains.
Here are some basic things to remember about the nutritional needs of dogs.
A very active dog needs more calories than a dog that just likes to cuddle up next to you. Younger, energetic dogs that are still growing need a high protein, low-fat diet; whereas older, take-it-slow dogs need less of both to maintain their body weight.
Whatever age and energy level your dog is at, when it comes to determining the best diet for him, you want to start by assessing his overall health and condition. For example, does he have allergies that you know of? What about dry, flaky skin; bad breath or diarrhea?
Every commercial dog food contains a variety of ingredients and has different levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Depending on your dog, each combination can have positive or negative effects.
"As a rule of thumb, avoid foods with artificial flavors, colors or preservatives," says Luciano. "I also try to avoid brands with corn, wheat and any by-products."
"The best, and frankly, only way to learn which food is right for your dog is through trial and error." he adds. "Buy a medium-sized bag of the food you'd like to feed your dog and try it for a month. If, in those 30 days, you see no negative effects, then keep on using that brand. But if you notice allergy symptoms or loose stool, it's time to try a different brand of food."
Cost and availability are also factors in the dog food you choose. So, take the time to compare the ingredients and nutritional content of different brands and buy the best-quality food you can for your budget.
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