What to look for when choosing dog food

By gapnsw.com.au
According to Choice, Australians spend more than 2 billion dollars every year on pet food. With an industry this big, it’s concerning that the pet food industry in Australia is unregulated and standards for manufacturing and the marketing of pet food are voluntary.
Poor nutrition can lead to long term issues for your pooch, including shortening their lifespan. So, with so many pet foods on the market, how do you ensure you pick the right one for your dog? Here’s a list of what to look for and help you navigate the range of options available on the market:

Dry food

It’s not surprising that this is one of the most popular ‘low mess’ food choices. You might be surprised to know that it offers the same level of nutrition as wet foods – minus the mess. Here are some things to look for on the back of the pack:

1.    Animal protein should be at the top of the ingredient list: Ingredients are listed by weight so it’s a good sign of quality if the largest component of the mixture is protein-based.
2.    Specific animal protein: look to see if the animal protein has been called out (eg. chicken, lamb, beef, etc). If the protein has been referred to as ‘Meat’, this is a sign that low-quality protein has been utilised.
3.    Vegetables, fruits, and grains: Look for a good representation of vegetables, fruits, and grains such as peas, berries, and oats. If you find whole non-starchy veggies like carrots, alfalfa, or apples – this is always a winner.

Tinned food

Look for ‘complete and balanced’ on the label which means the food is formulated to contain all the nutrients required in adequate proportions to maintain good health. The same rules apply as dry food when navigating in the ingredients list on the back of the can (see above).

Fresh meat

Traditionally these come in the form of packs or rolls and are toted with being a wholesome alternative to heavily processed or commercially packaged foods. While fresh meat can be beneficial for your dogs health, there are a few pitfalls to watch out for:

1.    Fresh meat alone does not provide your dog with the balanced diet they need to stay healthy, ensure you supplement their diet with vegetables, grains, and healthy carbohydrates
2.    Raw meat can harbor high levels of bacteria if not stored correctly. Ensure you follow the right storage procedures to prevent your pooch from getting sick.

This is general advice only, speak to your vet about your dogs' specific nutritional needs before changing their diet.