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How to choose dog food.

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Today, you have more choices than ever when it comes to choosing dog food — and that can be a little overwhelming. Wondering how to choose dog food that will set your pup up for a lifetime of good health? Take these key considerations for choosing the right dog food into account, and you'll be well on your way!

Consider your dog's needs.

Your dog's age or life stage, adult size and activity level all play a role in determining his optimal diet. For instance, a puppy needs high-quality protein to support all that growth, while seniors may need a diet focused on weight management or increased palatability.

Similarly, a large or giant-breed dog may need ingredients that offer joint health support, while a miniature might need a small kibble size. A highly energetic, active dog may need a more nutrient-dense diet compared to a pooch who takes a quiet stroll once a day.

Luckily, many dog foods are expressly formulated for these characteristics. In addition, you can find diets for special needs, such as sensitive skin, weight management, sensitive stomach, allergies, food or flavor preferences, and so on.

Check the dog food ingredients.

Meat typically should be high up a dog food ingredients list, and the American Kennel Club says you shouldn't be put off by quality meat byproducts. While they might not sound palatable to us, they can be a nutritious part of your dog's diet — and regulated dog foods can't include things like hooves, hair or floor sweepings as byproducts. Grains, fruits and vegetables are also healthy additions to dog food, providing vitamins, minerals and fiber.

It is a good idea, though, to avoid artificial colors and flavors, and added sweeteners, which don't bring any nutritional assets to pet food.

Look for signs of quality dog food.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) governs the claims that pet food companies make on their labels and has strict requirements to help ensure what's in the bag is a complete, balanced diet. Look on the dog food label for a statement saying the food has been "formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles."

You should also look to see if the pet food manufacturer's claims are supported by a credible source, such as independent research, a veterinarian or a dog nutritionist.

Many dog owners also want to know where the ingredients come from. For instance, is the food made in the U.S.A.? And where do the actual ingredients come from? If those details aren't on the dog food bag or the maker's website, call the company directly and ask.

Ask your veterinarian.

If you're still unsure which dog food is best for your pal, talk with your veterinarian. You can use your CareCredit credit card to pay for the cost of a vet consultation, as well as other products and services at participating veterinary practices. Use the Acceptance Locator or the CareCredit Mobile App to find one near you.

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