- What is the Best Dog Food on the Market in 2021?
- The Basics of Dog Nutrition
- Feeding Different Sizes and Life Stages
- What to Look for in the Best Dog Food
- Our 2021 Review of the Best (Top Rated) Dog Food Brands:
- Here are 6 Top Rated Dry Dog Food Recipes for 2021:
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Chicken Recipe
- I and Love and You Lovingly Simple LID Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Puppy Recipe
- Canidae Grain-Free PURE Senior Real Chicken Recipe
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small-Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large-Breed Adult Chicken Recipe
- The 6 Best Canned Dog Foods on the Market
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Real Chicken Recipe Canned Food
- Zignature Duck Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Food
- Canidae Grain-Free PURE Foundations Puppy Formula
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey & Chicken Grill Grain-Free Senior Recipe
- Merrick Lil’ Plates Petite Pot Pie in Gravy Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Large Breed Chicken Dinner
- Frequently Asked Questions
When it’s dinner time for your dog, you probably head to the pantry or cupboard to grab some dog food. If you’re like many dog owners, you may not even think about what you’re feeding your dog – the fact that the package says “dog food” is enough.
- Extremely Affordable
- Buy 1 Get 1 Free
- Grain-free recipes
What you may not realize, is that all dog food is NOT created equal and quality varies greatly from one product to another. Your dog has specific nutritional needs and, while they may not be the same as yours, they are just as important. Choosing a healthy dog food that meets those needs is essential for your dog’s long-term health and wellness.
In this article, we’ll explore the subject of dog nutrition and will apply that information to choosing the best dog food. We’ll talk about the basics of your dog’s nutritional needs and how they change according to his age, breed size, and life stage. We’ll also help you learn what to look for in dog food and provide you with our top 15 picks for the best dog food.
What is the Best Dog Food on the Market in 2021?
- NomNomNow Fresh Pet Food Delivery
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry – Most Popular 2021 Pick
- American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe – Most Affordable 2021 Pick
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free
- I and Love and You Lovingly Simple LID Grain-Free
- Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Puppy
- Canidae Grain-Free PURE Senior Real Chicken
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small-Breed Adult
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large-Breed Adult
The Basics of Dog Nutrition
In your dog’s eyes, food is food. Your dog has no understanding of his own nutritional needs, so it is your job as a dog owner to understand them for him. Most of the commercial dog food you see at the pet store is formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional requirements, but that doesn’t mean it’s all equal. In fact, a lot of the dog food you see online and in pet stores is made from low-quality ingredients.
We’ll talk more about what to look for in the best dog food later, but for now let’s talk about your dog’s nutritional requirements.
All dogs require a blend of protein, fat, and essential nutrients in their diet. Protein is the most important nutrient because it provides a healthy foundation for strong muscles. In puppies, protein supports growth and development, and, in adult and senior dogs, it helps your dog maintain lean muscle mass. Protein should come from animal sources (like meat, poultry, and seafood) to ensure that it is digestible and complete. Complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids your dog’s body is not capable of synthesizing on its own.
Fat is a concentrated source of energy in the form of calories. The most nutritious sources of fat for your dog are animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil. Healthy fats provide energy as well as support for your dog’s skin and coat – particularly omega-3 fatty acids. Your dog needs a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in his diet to support his health and to help him absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
Carbohydrates are not a significant part of your dog’s natural diet, but they are a component of most commercial dog foods. The key is to focus on animal protein and healthy fats, using carbohydrates as a supplemental source of energy, nutrients, and fiber. Carbohydrates should be nutritious and highly digestible, so that includes options like whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Avoid grains like corn and wheat because they are low in nutrition for dogs and hard to digest.
Now that you have a basic understanding of your dog’s nutritional needs, let’s take a closer look at how those needs change according to a dog’s breed size and life stage.
Feeding Different Sizes and Life Stages
Your dog’s basic nutritional requirements do not change significantly throughout his life. As a puppy, he requires a minimum of 22% protein and 8% fat in his diet. These are minimum values, so remember that it is usually better to go higher in protein, no matter your dog’s age. Puppies need more protein than adult dogs to develop strong muscles with higher fat content to provide the additional calories they need to grow. After your puppy stops growing, you can cut back a little on fat and calories.
Adult dogs require a minimum of 18% protein and 5% fat in their diets. These values do not change when your dog becomes a senior and they are no different for small dogs versus large dogs.
You do need to keep in mind, however, that calorie needs vary depending on your dog’s age, breed size, and activity level. Puppies and small dogs have very fast metabolisms, so they require a higher concentration of calories in their diets. Large-breed puppies are the exception – their growth needs to be controlled to prevent them from developing bone and joint problems. Senior dogs may also require a lower concentration of calories to prevent weight gain.
The best way to make sure your dog’s needs are met is to choose a commercial dog food appropriate for his breed size or life stage. Puppies should be fed puppy food until they are about 12 months old – it is best if you choose a small-breed or large-breed puppy food as well. Adult dogs can be fed a standard adult diet, though there are formulas for small-breed dogs and large-breed dogs. Formulas exist for senior dogs as well, and for dogs who need to lose weight at any age.
What to Look for in the Best Dog Food
In an ideal world, you’d be able to walk into the pet store and pick any dog food off the shelf without having to worry about whether it’s good for your dog or not. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of difference between dog food brands, and even between different product lines created by the same company. The best way to choose a healthy diet for your dog is to learn about his nutritional needs and to know how to identify a product that meets them.
Here are some general things to look for in a good dog food:
- Complete and balanced. The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has created nutrient profiles for puppies and adult dogs, so check the label to make sure the product is complete and balanced according to that profile before you buy.
- Wholesome, natural ingredients. Whole-food ingredients are more digestible for dogs than by-products, so look for a recipe made with real ingredients. The quality of the ingredients matters as well, and the first 5 to 10 ingredients on the list should be real, nutritious foods.
- High-quality animal protein. Dogs are scavenging carnivores which means that they will consume plant products from time to time, but their bodies are optimized for utilizing nutrition from animal sources. Whole animal proteins like poultry, meat, and fish should be the foundation of your dog’s food and should contain at least 18% but ideally upwards of 25%.
- Essential fatty acids. Fats provide your dog with a concentrated source of energy as well as support for skin and coat and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil are best, though plant oils (like sunflower oil and flaxseed) can be used to balance omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content.
- Digestible carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should not be a primary component of your dog’s diet but those that are included need to be digestible. Whole grains are a nutritious and digestible source of fiber, energy, and nutrients for most dogs but dogs who can’t tolerate grains may require a grain-free diet featuring options like legumes and starchy vegetables.
- Vitamins and minerals. Synthetic supplements help to ensure proper levels of essential nutrients, but fresh fruits and vegetables provide a more valuable source of vitamins and minerals for dogs. You should also look for chelated minerals.
- Beneficial supplements. In addition to synthetic vitamins and chelated minerals, look for other beneficial supplements. Prebiotic fibers and probiotics, for example, can boost your dog’s digestion, as can natural enzymes. Avoid artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners because they have no nutritional value for dogs.
- No artificial additives or by-products. Artificial additives are sometimes used to make dog food look or taste better, but they provide no nutritional value and can actually trigger negative reactions. When it comes to dog food brands to avoid, it is the ones that use by-products and additives that are on the list.
When doing a dog food comparison, it is important to consider not only these factors, but also your dog’s specific nutritional needs. Remember, when reading dog food reviews, the best food for puppies is different from the best food for seniors. Similarly, the best dog food for small dogs is different from the best dog food for large dogs. Keep in mind everything you’ve learned when you start shopping for the best food for your dog.
Our 2021 Review of the Best (Top Rated) Dog Food Brands:
The best dog food is one that meets your dog’s nutritional requirements through the inclusion of wholesome, high-quality ingredients. It should be packed with premium animal proteins, balanced with essential fatty acids, and supplemented with digestible carbohydrates. Look for beneficial supplements and fresh fruits and vegetables as well, avoiding anything made with artificial additives or by-products.
If you’re not quite sure where to start looking for the best dog food, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with our best dog food comparison! Keep reading to see our top 15 picks for the best dog food starting with our favorites for the best dog food brand overall as well as our favorites for the most popular and most affordable brands:
Overall Best Dog Food Brand: If you had the choice between eating a microwave dinner or a freshly prepared meal, you would probably pick the fresh food and so would your dog! Pet experts agree that fresh pet food offers the highest quality nutrition and optimal digestibility for dogs. You can find fresh pet food in stores and online, but NomNomNow is one of the only services that delivers it right to your door. What makes this company unique is that they portion out your dog’s food according to his calorie requirements, making sure he gets all the nutrients he needs in every bite. Meals are prepared with fresh, high-quality ingredients in small batches to ensure nutritional quality. They are delivered right to your door on monthly basis and you can cancel or adjust your shipment at any time.
Most Popular Dog Food Brand: If you’re not sure what to feed your dog, it’s not a bad idea to go with a popular brand like Taste of the Wild. This brand is extremely popular on Chewy and other online retailers, having thousands of positive dog food reviews and near-5-star ratings. Taste of the Wild offers both dry food and wet food formulas including recipes for puppies and all life stages. Every recipe is grain-free and made with premium animal proteins including roasted meats like venison and bison as well as more conventional options like chicken, salmon, and beef. These recipes are packed with protein, balanced with healthy fats, and made with digestible grain-free carbohydrates. They also contain beneficial supplements like chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption as well as probiotics for digestion.
Most Affordable Dog Food Brand: Cheap dog food isn’t good and good dog food isn’t cheap. There is a difference, however, between cheap and affordable. The quality of your dog’s diet is of the utmost important, but there are plenty of dog foods out there made with wholesome, natural ingredients and formulated to meet your dog’s needs without breaking the bank. American Journey is a relatively new brand created by the online pet supply retailer Chewy and it offers a wide variety of products for dogs and cats at an affordable price. Not only does American Journey offer both dry food and wet food formulas, but there are both grain-inclusive and grain-free options. You’ll find several recipes for limited ingredient diets as well as formulas for puppies, seniors, and large breeds. Every recipe features real animal protein as the first ingredient with digestible carbs, healthy fats, and beneficial supplements for balanced nutrition.
Here are 6 Top Rated Dry Dog Food Recipes for 2021:
The three brands reviewed above are great for dogs no matter what size, breed, or life stage yours is in. NomNomNow is customizable according to your dog’s unique nutritional needs and both American Journey and Taste of the Wild offer a variety of recipes to choose from.
If you’re not sure that one of these is the best option for your dog, here are six more top-rated dry dog food brands we heartily recommend:
|Our 2021 Picks: Review of the Best Commercial Dry Dog Foods|
|Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Chicken Recipe||CHECK PRICE|
|I And Love And You Lovingly Simple LID Grain-Free Lamb||CHECK PRICE|
|Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Puppy Recipe||CHECK PRICE|
|Canidae Grain-Free PURE Senior Real Chicken Recipe||CHECK PRICE|
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small-Breed||CHECK PRICE|
|Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large-Breed Adult Chicken Recipe||CHECK PRICE|
Best Dry Dog Food Overall: Nothing beats raw dog food when it comes to nutritional quality but, unfortunately, it is too expensive and too inconvenient for most dog owners. If you want to give your dog the nutritional benefits of raw food with the convenience of dry food, consider this Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Chicken Recipe. This recipe features high-protein kibble (made with real chicken) and contains freeze-dried raw bites for a boost of flavor and nutrition. Made only with wholesome, natural ingredients this recipe is supplemented with probiotics for digestion, omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, and antioxidants for strong immunity. Overall, it contains a whopping 37% protein, 20.5% fat, and 4% fiber.
- Pros: High-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw bites, real chicken as first ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, probiotic supplements, plenty of omega fatty acids, 37% protein and 4% fiber
- Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet, may be too high in fat for some dogs
Best Dry Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach: Many dogs suffer from digestive issues related to sensitive stomach. In some cases, it is the result of a specific food allergy, though in other cases, it is an issue of quality and digestibility with the dog’s diet as a whole. No matter which of these categories your dog falls into, this I and Love and You Lovingly Simple LID Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe is a great option. Not only is it made with a limited number of main ingredients to reduce the risk for a negative reaction, but it is highly digestible because it is made with a novel source of protein, grain-free carbohydrates, and all-natural ingredients. This formula contains 30% protein from fresh lamb and menhaden fish meal with chickpeas, peas, and sweet potatoes for carbohydrates. It contains sunflower oil and fish oil to provide a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with chelated minerals and probiotics as beneficial supplements.
- Pros: Limited number of ingredients, highly digestible, grain-free carbohydrates, blend of omega fatty acids, probiotic supplements, chelated minerals, contains 30% protein and 15% fat
- Cons: Contains some plant proteins (pea protein), expensive to feed as a staple diet
Best Dog Food for Puppies: All dogs deserve high-quality nutrition, but a healthy diet is particularly important for growing puppies. This Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Puppy Recipe is a great choice because it is made with wholesome, natural ingredients in a high-protein formula infused with freeze-dried raw pieces. With fresh chicken as the first ingredient, this formula provides a full 30% protein. It also contains supplemental proteins like turkey meal and deboned salmon with digestible grain-free carbohydrates and fresh fruits and vegetables. This recipe contains a relatively limited number of ingredients, inclusive of several proteins and healthy fats, and it is balanced with vitamin supplements and chelated minerals. It also contains dried fermentation products to provide digestive support.
- Pros: High-protein kibble infused with raw bites, real chicken as first ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, blend of omega fatty acids, probiotics, chelated minerals
- Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet
Best Dog Food for Seniors: As your dog gets older, he may not need as many calories, but protein and balanced nutrition are just as important as ever. This Canidae Grain-Free PURE Senior Real Chicken Recipe is a great choice because it contains just 9 simple ingredients with fresh chicken as the first one. This formula is highly digestible and comes with a low risk of triggering food allergies and sensitivities. It features sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans, and peas as the primary carbohydrates with a blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. You’ll find that this recipe contains plenty of protein (28%) to help your aging dog maintain lean muscle mass with moderate fat content (10%) for energy. You’ll also be glad to know that it is rich in fiber to support healthy digestion and contains both probiotics and chelated minerals.
- Pros: Formulated for senior dogs, just 9 main ingredients, real chicken as first ingredient, highly digestible, rich in protein moderate in fat, chelated minerals, probiotics
- Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet, not a single-source protein recipe
Best Dog Food for Small Dogs: Small-breed dogs have fast metabolisms and therefore require a higher concentration of calories than larger dogs. This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small-Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is formulated to meet the requirements of small breeds and is complete and nutritionally balanced. This recipe features fresh chicken as the main ingredient with brown rice for digestible carbohydrates. It contains supplemental sources of protein like menhaden fish meal as well which is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Overall, the formula provides plenty of protein (26%) to help your dog maintain lean muscle with higher fat content for additional calories. It is supplemented with vitamins and chelated minerals as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.
- Pros: Higher energy for small dogs, real chicken as first ingredient, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, rich in omega fatty acids, probiotics, chelated minerals
- Cons: Not a grain-free recipe (some dogs may be sensitive)
Best Dog Food for Large Dogs: Large-breed dogs need adequate protein in their diet help them maintain lean muscle mass for a healthy body weight – they also need additional glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support. This Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large-Breed Adult Chicken Recipe is a great option because it is formulated specifically for large breeds and is made with wholesome natural ingredients. This recipe features farm-raised chicken as the main ingredient with whole-grain brown rice for carbohydrate support. It contains dried fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients with vitamin supplements and chelated minerals for nutritional balance. Overall, it is a healthy and high-quality source of balanced nutrition for large-breed adult dogs.
- Pros: Formulated for large breeds, real chicken as main ingredient, whole-grain carbohydrates, dried fruits and vegetables, supplemental glucosamine and chondroitin, chelated minerals
- Cons: Could be higher in protein, not a grain-free recipe (some dogs may be sensitive)
The 6 Best Canned Dog Foods on the Market
Dry food offers the convenience of being shelf-stable and it is affordable to buy in bulk. The problem is that it is often higher in carbohydrate content than most wet foods and lower in moisture. If your dog is a picky eater, has trouble chewing kibble, or requires a low-carb or low-glycemic diet, the best dog food might be a canned or wet food recipe.
If you’re not sure that dry food is the best option for your dog, here are six top-rated canned dog food brands we heartily recommend:
|Our 2021 Picks: Best Canned Dog Foods Reviews|
|Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Real Chicken Recipe Canned Food||CHECK PRICE|
|Zignature Duck Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Food||CHECK PRICE|
|Canidae Grain-Free PURE Foundations Puppy Formula||CHECK PRICE|
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey & Chicken Grill Grain-Free||CHECK PRICE|
|Merrick Lil’ Plates Petite Pot Pie In Gravy Dog Food||CHECK PRICE|
|Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Large Breed Chicken Dinner||CHECK PRICE|
Best Canned Dog Food Overall: The Instinct line of products from Nature’s Variety offers high-quality nutrition for dogs in all life stages. This Real Chicken Recipe Canned Food is part of the original lineup, made with fresh, cage-free chicken as the first ingredient. It is a grain-free recipe, featuring digestible carbohydrates like peas and carrots with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for essential vitamins and minerals. This recipe is supplemented with flaxseed for omega fatty acids with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption. Overall, it is loaded with protein and flavor to provide your dog with a delicious and nutritious source of balanced nutrition.
- Pros: Real chicken as first ingredient, high in protein, blend of omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, fresh fruits and vegetables, highly digestible, rich in fiber
- Cons: Could be too high in fat for some dogs
Best Canned Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach: If your dog has a sensitive stomach or food allergies, you need to limit the number of ingredients in his diet and, ideally, switch to a novel source of protein. This Zignature Duck Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Food fulfills both of these requirements. This recipe features farm-raised duck as a single source of novel protein with peas, carrots, and chickpeas for carbohydrate energy and essential nutrients. It contains plenty of protein to help your dog maintain lean muscle mass with duck broth for flavor and vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure nutritional balance. It contains no by-products or artificial additives and is designed for digestibility.
- Pros: Limited number of ingredients, single source of novel protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals
- Cons: Fairly expensive to feed as a staple diet
Best Canned Food for Puppies: Get your puppy off to the right start with this Canidae Grain-Free PURE Foundations Puppy Formula canned food. It features fresh chicken as the main ingredient and contains just 4 primary ingredients to reduce the risk for triggering food allergies and sensitivities. This formula is highly digestible, containing grain-free carbohydrates in the form of peas. It contains salmon oil as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and is balanced with omega-6 fatty acids as well. It contains essential vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and is complete and nutritionally balanced as a whole.
- Pros: Formulated for puppies, just 4 main ingredients, real chicken as first ingredient, blend of omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, rich in protein and fat
- Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet, contains some thickeners (agar-agar)
Best Dog Food for Seniors: When your dog starts to get older, his metabolism slows down, and he may be prone to weight gain. This Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey & Chicken Grill Grain-Free Senior Recipe is a great option because the Wilderness line as a whole is designed to be high in protein. This recipe features real turkey and chicken in a flavorful, high-protein dog food formulated for senior dogs. It is rich in fiber for healthy digestion with moderate fat content to prevent weight gain. It contains chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption with synthetic vitamins as needed for balanced nutrition. Overall, it has a limited number of main ingredients and provides all the nutrients your dog needs.
- Pros: High in protein, real chicken and turkey, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in fiber, chelated minerals, complete and balanced nutrition
- Cons: Contains some thickeners (carrageenan and guar gum)
Best Canned Dog Food for Small Dogs: Merrick has an entire line of wet foods for small breeds and this recipe is our favorite as the best dog food for small dogs. This Merrick Lil’ Plates Petite Pot Pie in Gravy Dog Food is a flavorful recipe made with wholesome natural ingredients like fresh chicken, potatoes, carrots, and peas. It is loaded with protein and balanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It contains slightly higher fat and calorie content than the typical wet food as well to help meet your small-breed dog’s higher energy requirements. Overall, it is highly digestible and packed with quality ingredients to deliver a premium dose of protein and natural flavor.
- Pros: Formulated for small-breeds, high in protein and energy, real chicken as first ingredient, fresh fruits and vegetables, grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals, blend of omega fatty acids
- Cons: Contains some thickeners (guar gum), may be too high in starch for some dogs
Best Dog Food for Large Dogs: If you’re looking for a protein-rich diet for your large-breed dog, this Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Large Breed Chicken Dinner is a great option. It features real chicken as the first ingredient with digestible carbohydrates like brown rice, carrots, and oatmeal. This recipe is packed with protein and contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for essential nutrients. It is rich in fiber for healthy digestion with natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin as well as a blend of omega fatty acids. Overall, it is complete and balanced for your large-breed dog.
- Pros: Formulated for large breeds, real chicken as first ingredient, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain carbohydrates, blend of omega fatty acids, chelated minerals
- Cons: Contains some thickeners, not a grain-free recipe (some dogs may be sensitive)
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much should I feed my dog? – It probably goes without saying that you would feed a 6-pound Chihuahua less than a 60-pound Black Lab. It’s obvious that larger dogs need more food than smaller dogs, but just how much should you be feeding your dog? The answer depends on several factors including your dog’s activity level, age, size, and life stage. Puppies need more food than adult dogs to fuel their growth and development, and active or working breeds need more fuel to sustain their high energy levels.
Generally speaking, toy breeds 6 pounds and under need no more than ½ cup of food per day while small breeds up to 20 pounds need about ¾ cup to 1 ¼ cups. Medium breeds 30 to 50 pounds need about 1 ¾ cups to 2 ½ cups while large breeds 60 to 100 pounds need between 3 cups and 4 ½ cups. Keep in mind that dog foods differ in terms of calorie content – these estimates are based on an average calorie content of 430 calories per cup.
To determine exactly how much you should be feeding your dog, refer to the feeding recommendations on the dog food package. You’ll use your dog’s age and weight to determine the proper amount to feed your dog, keeping in mind that this is the recommended amount to feed over a 24-hour period. Most dogs eat at least two meals a day, so you’ll need to divide that amount. You should also keep an eye on your dog’s weight and body condition while following these instructions and make adjustments as needed if he gains or loses too much weight.
- How many times a day should I feed my dog? – Most dog owners feed their dogs twice a day. This is perfectly fine for most dogs, though you’ll need to make some adjustments for puppies and high-energy breeds. Puppies need at least three meals per day to sustain their metabolisms and to fuel their growth and development. Active and working breeds have higher energy requirements as well and may do best with their daily intake divided over three meals.
- Some dog owners choose to free-feed their dogs by simply keeping the bowl full. This option works well for puppies and for high-energy breeds – it can also work for toy or small breeds who have very fast metabolisms but do not tend to overeat. If you have a large-breed puppy or a medium to large-breed adult dog, it is recommended that you divide the daily feeding into two meals to control growth and body weight for your dog’s health and wellbeing.
- Is dry dog food better than wet dog food? – There is no simple yes or no answer to this question because what is “better” depends on numerous factors. Dry dog food is shelf-stable which means that it stays fresh when properly stored for much longer than an opened can of dog food. You can also purchase dry food in larger quantities, making it the more affordable choice in many cases. Dry food or kibble can also provide dental benefits, physically scraping plaque and tartar off your dog’s teeth as he chews, plus it is less hassle than canned food.
- Canned dog food only stays fresh for about 3 to 5 days after opening, but due to the canning process that keeps the food shelf-stable, it is often made with fewer preservatives. Wet dog food recipes tend to be higher in moisture, protein, and fat than dry food recipes and are usually lower in carbohydrate content. Canned food may be more expensive, but the higher calorie and protein concentration helps even things out in terms of cost and quality.
- Do puppies and senior dogs need different food? – All dogs have the same basic nutritional requirements, but there are a few adjustments you may need to make according to your dog’s life stage. As a puppy, your dog will need a higher number of calories per pound of bodyweight as well as more frequent feedings to sustain his growth and development. Puppies need a slightly higher protein and fat percentage than adult dogs as well. Senior dogs sometimes struggle with weight gain as their metabolisms slow down, so you may need to reduce your dog’s feeding amount or switch to a lower calorie recipe. Protein is still extremely important, however, because it helps your dog maintain lean mass.
- How many calories a day does my dog need? – On average, dogs need about 25 to 30 calories per pound of body weight. Your dog’s specific needs will vary depending on his age and his activity level. Puppies, for example, burn calories more quickly than adult dogs and senior dogs – the same is true for active and working breeds. You also need to consider your dog’s breed size. Toy and small breeds have very fast metabolisms so, while they may consume fewer total calories than larger dogs, their needs per pound are higher – somewhere between 30 and 40 calories per pound. Large breeds have slower metabolisms and their growth needs to be controlled, so something between 20 and 30 calories per pound is more appropriate.
Choosing the best dog food for your dog is no easy task, especially with so many options to choose from. Take the time to learn the basics about your dog’s nutritional needs and to learn how to tell the good from the bad. Using the information you’ve learned here, you can make an educated decision about which diet is best for your dog.
If you’re still not sure where to start looking for the best dog food, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Simply try one of the 15 best dog foods we’ve reviewed above. Best of luck!