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Does Dog Food Type Matter?

When it comes to our dog’s overall health, choosing the right food is one of the most important decisions every dog owner has to make. Many factors determine which dog food is right for your pet, including breed, age, size and ingredients. Does dog food type matter? Yes, yes it does. Here’s how.


The breed of your pet is an important factor to consider when choosing your dog’s food. A more active breed, such as the Labrador retriever, will require a higher calorie diet than a less-active breed, such as a basset hound.


Like breed, size can impact which food is right for your dog. In fact, smaller dogs may require higher calorie diets in comparison to larger dogs due to their higher metabolic rate.


Throughout different stages of your dog’s life, nutritional needs change. Young puppies have separate needs from adult dogs, and senior dogs (7+ years old) may start to struggle with maintaining a healthy weight.

Most dog food companies make specific puppy foods to help make the choice easier.
In larger breeds, it is especially important to promote healthy bone and joint growth to prevent future problems as your dog grows and ages. You can consult one of our veterinarians on nutrition and the process of switching from puppy food to adult food.

As dogs age, their nutritional needs change. Senior dogs can become overweight or underweight for various reasons, sometimes due to nutritionally deficient food. Some older dogs can struggle with eating dry food, creating a need to switch to wet food. Our veterinarians can help guide you to the right food for your older pet.

Ingredients to Look For and Avoid

It’s important to pay attention to the ingredients on the label to ensure your dog is getting all the nutrients they need and to avoid the wrong foods. Dog food ingredients are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), however, this does not guarantee that the ingredients are safe for your dog. For example, “rendering facilities” have no regulations, where animals are broken down and used in other products. This opens the door for products like horses, dead zoo animals, rodents, roadkill and even expired grocery store meat still in the plastic wrapper to end up in your dog’s food. A list of other harmful ingredients and chemicals is below:

  • Harmful chemicals – BHA, BHT ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, sodium selenite
  • Unspecified protein – meat, meat-meal, by-products
  • Unhealthy grains and fillers – corn, wheat, soy
  • Unregulated ingredients – “Made in China,” rendering plants
  • Toxins – xylitol, onions, grapes, garlic, avocado (if not processed correctly)

While the ingredient list does not disclose the quality of the ingredients, it does say what is in the food. This is important to ensure your dog is receiving healthy ingredients, especially in dogs with specific dietary needs or restrictions. It is also useful for owners who wish to feed their dogs with specific sources of proteins, grains, or preservatives to understand what is in food. A list of ingredients to look for is below:

  • Whole proteins – fish, chicken, beef, eggs
  • Whole grains – oats, quinoa
  • Natural preservatives – Vitamin C, Vitamin E
  • Fruits and vegetables – sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, blueberries

Is Grain-Free Food Healthier For Dogs?

There are many questions about grain-free foods and diets, but unless your dog has an allergy to grains, they should be included in their meals to supply them with essential nutrients. If you suspect your dog has an allergy to grains, talk to one of our veterinarians to discuss a healthy substitute to help maintain a balanced diet.

Consult A Veterinarian

If your dog is active, in good shape, has a healthy appetite and produces firm and healthy stools, then their food is adequate. One of our veterinarians can be a valuable resource for your dog food choices. They are experts on dog nutrition and would be happy to narrow down healthy options based on your dog’s specific needs. They are also here to answer any questions you may have and ensure your dog is getting the proper nutrients for a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Now that you know why dog food type matters, click here to schedule an appointment with us today at any of our 3 convenient Triangle locations!

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