Pet food manufacturers have made great strides in improving the quality of dog food over the past few years, with a strong focus on creating healthy, balanced and affordable foods you can feel proud to feed your furry friend. This is great news for both dogs and dog owners alike, but can make settling on one brand of dog food more difficult. Every dog food brand out there makes big claims about being the best choice in dry dog food, which can make choosing the best dry dog food brands for your dog a bit tricky. When selecting which brands of dry dog food to try, ask the following questions to make sure you end up with a food that's perfect for both your pet and your budget.
Does this brand of dog food contain digestive enzymes?
The better, more high-end dry dog food brands will have digestive enzymes added back into the food. These enzymes offer several benefits to your dog, including an immune system boost, better absorption of vitamins and minerals, improved respiratory health and better utilization of nutrients in the food. Always ask or check to make sure the food you're buying contains digestive enzymes, and if not, consider looking into other brands of dog food.
What type and grade of protein is used in this dog food?
One of the most important questions to ask when shopping for the best dry dog food brands is what type and grade of protein is used in the food. Some manufacturers use meat byproducts, while others use human-grade meats as the primary protein source in the food. As a general rule, higher quality dog food has more pure protein sources, which is better for the health of the dogs eating the food. While you may not necessarily need to opt for human-grade meats, you may want to steer clear of cheaper brands filled primarily with byproducts and protein meal (chicken meal, turkey meal, etc.).
Can I try a sample of dry dog food for free?
No matter how good the dry dog food is, there's no guarantee your dog will like the taste or texture. Especially when purchasing higher-end dry dog food, your best bet is to take home a small sample of the food to make sure your dog will eat it. This can eliminate the frustration of buying an entire bag of dog food, only to find your dog won't touch it! Most specialty pet food stores, veterinarian's offices and even manufacturers will offer coupons or free samples that allow you to try out the food before you buy.
What ingredients are used as a primary source of carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are an important part of your dog's diet, but it's also important to make sure the source of the carbohydrate is adequate and healthy for your pup. Many cheaper brands of dry dog food use corn meal is a primary carbohydrate and filler, but corn is one of the most difficult grains to digest and is not a good source of carbohydrates for your dog. Look for foods that use whole grains instead of fractionated or other types of grains. You should always check to make sure the carbohydrates are not the primary ingredient in the food (protein should be listed first in the list of ingredients). This will ensure your dog is getting the right balance of protein and carbohydrates to stay healthy and active.
Are vitamins mainly from ingredients or are they added in?
One way to determine overall quality of dry dog food is to look at where most of the vitamins and minerals are coming from. If much of the vitamin and mineral content has been added in after or during processing, that's a sure-fire sign that the ingredients used in the food aren't very high quality. In a quality dry dog food, most of the nutrients will come from the ingredients themselves, and very little, if any, vitamins and minerals will need to be added after the fact.
What sets this dry dog food apart from other brands?
One of the best questions you can ask a dog food manufacturer or sales representative is what sets their dog food apart from other brands. This gives them a chance to sell you on the brand, while also giving you valuable information about the ingredients, quality, and manufacturing process, especially when compared to other brands.
Do you offer a satisfaction guarantee?
Some stores and pet food manufacturers offer a satisfaction guarantee on all foods they sell. If you're not sure your dog will like the food and a free sample isn't available, ask about the return policy in the event your dog doesn't like it. The better brands of dry dog food will offer a satisfaction guarantee and will gladly offer your money back if you aren't completely satisfied with their product.
Are there any added salts, sugars or flavor enhancers in the food?
Cheaper dry dog foods may try to mask the flavor of poor-quality ingredients by adding in salts, sugars and flavor enhancers. Beware of dog foods that contain these additives, as they are often a sign of a very low-quality dry dog food.