Healthy dog food and diets can look quite different depending on the animal’s breed, lifestyle and other health factors. However, as a general rule, the best dry dog food contains specific ingredients, comes from a handful of trusted manufacturers, and follows strict local or state regulations.
What ingredients should dog owners prioritize? How can they know if they’re buying from a sanitary and compliant manufacturer? Here are some key details that constitute healthy dog food in 2022.
Pet ownership has become more popular in recent years — especially among young people — and new trends have emerged. It’s good to ditch generic dry kibble, but putting your dog on a vegan or another diet fad isn’t the answer. Like humans, dogs need nutritionally balanced food that includes natural proteins, carbs, fats and plenty of fluids.
Key Ingredients of Healthy Dog Food
Start by making sure your dog food contains these key ingredients:
Meat: Real meat should be the primary food source of all canine species, whether wild or domestic. Dogs need protein from chicken, beef, fish, venison and rabbit. Meat meal is another healthy dog diet alternative.
Fibrous carbs: Rice, oats, barley and other fiber-rich carbohydrates are great for dogs. They provide loads of energy and help with digestion.
Vitamin-rich greens: A strictly vegetarian or vegan diet is a bad idea, but dogs still need vitamin-rich greens. Carrots, sweet potatoes and peas are chock-full of minerals that can aid your dog’s immune system, heart health and even vision.
Healthy fats: Fish oils, chicken oil, omega-3s and omega-6s are healthy fats crucial for proper digestion and cell function.
Essential minerals: Other minerals and amino acids like zinc, manganese, L-carnitine and DL-methionine help balance your dog’s energy levels and promote healthy cell production.
The best dry dog food contains all the above ingredients. Before you make any purchase, check the nutrition facts on the bag to ensure your dog is getting all the necessary nutrients.
Safety and Sanitation Regulations
Along with having the right ingredients, your dog’s food brand must follow safety and sanitation regulations. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have a specific premarket approval procedure. Still, it does require all pet food to have ingredients that are generally safe for use according to its Code of Regulations.
The FDA also regulates pet food labeling. The product must properly identify the quantity, name and place of business, as well as ingredients ordered from highest to lowest weight. Any special claims about the product, such as “promotes bone health,” automatically get reviewed.
Your state’s agriculture department also has some regulatory responsibilities. Most states require pet food manufacturers to register all products sold there. The registration fee sometimes changes based on the weight sold. Some states also randomly test food or investigate consumer complaints to maintain compliance.
However, the FDA and USDA often don’t coordinate their efforts. There is no guarantee that these organizations enforce all the rules and regulations at each manufacturing facility. Dog owners must do their own research when shopping to ensure they buy from trustworthy sources.
Healthy Dog Food Research Tips
Along with investigating the food products, you can determine a facility’s safety based on employee regulations. Workplace mishaps have many direct and indirect costs, including fines, worker’s compensation and low employee morale. Pet owners must look for companies that investing heavily in workplace safety to protect themselves and their beloved animals.
For example, one pet food plant in Missouri was shut down in 2013 because of employee complaints about adverse reactions from close contact with the products. If manufacturing the food is not safe, chances are the final product is also dangerous. You should always do a quick background check on the facility before finalizing the purchase.
The FDA recently passed the Food Safety Modernization Act that helps address the issue of employee safety. It requires manufacturers to create their products with the understanding that human consumption is a possibility, which incentivizes them to choose their ingredients and assembly processes more carefully.
Another way to make more informed buying decisions is to involve your dog. You could complete a survey and get free dog food to test certain brands. You might take your dog to the pet store and try out samples, if available. Spending time with your dog outside the home is also a great way to relieve separation anxiety.
Vet-Recommended Dog Food in 2022
Of course, you can always look to your veterinarian for advice. They know your dog’s health condition and nutritional requirements better than anyone. Here are some vet-recommended dog food brands you should consider:
These brands pride themselves on using natural, organic ingredients and providing lean protein sources. They even offer size and breed-specific dry dog food, so you know you’re getting a formula that meets your pet’s unique needs.
Give Your Dog the Diet He Deserves
A healthy dog diet requires many nutrients, vitamins and minerals. If you want to find the best dry dog food, research manufacturers to confirm their ingredient quality, safety and sanitation. Ask for advice from your veterinarian if you’re on the fence. Take this buying process seriously to give your dog the well-balanced diet she deserves.