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Finding the best dog food for your furry friend takes effort, of course, but the convenience, price and assortment of dry dog food may make it a good option to consider for your pup. In commercials, the dry dog food kibbles hit the bowl and a good pup comes running — every pet owner might want that kind of love story for their dog, and dry dog food also sports some unique benefits for dogs (and their owners). “There are many benefits of dry food,” says Shelly Ferris, DVM, the regional director of Petco Veterinary Services. “It comes in several varieties. It doesn’t spoil easily. It keeps dogs’ teeth clean in between vet visits and you can easily transition your pet to new foods if needed.”
“For humans, it’s much easier to clean out a bowl and dry food can be left out for a longer time,” says Kristin Neuhauser, DVM, of Noah’s Ark Animal Clinic. “For dogs, the main benefit to being on a commercially-prepared dry dog food is that they are eating a complete and balanced diet.” Dry dog food, in essence, marries convenience and nutrition as much as possible. But which dry dog food should you get? We consulted experts about the differences between the leading dry dog foods and how to pick the best dry dog food for your dog companion.
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How to shop for dry dog food.
As with anything else regarding your pet, a good place to start is talking to your veterinarian — in this instance, about your dog’s dietary requirements. Then look at the ingredient list on a bag of dry dog food. “You can easily tailor a dry food diet to your pup’s unique needs because it is convenient and available in a variety of flavors, formulas — from life-stage and breed-specific to weight management,” says Ferris.
While your dog can’t speak, their body can tell you a lot about whether or not you’ve picked the right brand of dry food, too. “Dogs should have stools that are of normal consistency, formed and relatively easy to pick up,” says Neuhauser, who also points out that a healthy coat and skin, and maintaining weight — not gaining or losing too much — are signs of good health.
When shopping for dog food, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a nonprofit that helps set standards for animal feed and pet foods, recommends that you read the label, select a food based on your pet’s breed, age and health, and follow the manufacturer’s feeding guidelines. When it comes to ingredients like preservatives, Ferris suggests dog owners look for natural options over synthetic ones. “Natural preservatives such as vitamin C , vitamin E and oils of rosemary , clove or other spices are better alternatives to chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, which are often added in dog foods,” says Ferris.