Choosing the right food for your new dog can seem like a daunting task. There are so many options! But before you head to the store, consider if you really need to change his food. Is your dog happy and thriving on what he was eating before you adopted him? Ask the shelter or rescue what they fed him while he was there, and if he’s doing well with it, you may not need to switch. In fact, feeding him the food he’s accustomed to could be comforting for him during a time of change.
If you do decide to change his diet, think about the following factors as you search for the right food:
How old is your new dog?
Dogs’ bodies change as they age, and their nutritional needs change along with it. They thrive on food that’s formulated for their specific life stage. Puppies, for example, are in a phase of rapid growth and development. They do best on puppy-specific formulas, which often provide high levels of protein to fuel their high-energy, growing bodies, and DHA to help support vision and brain development. Adult dogs require fewer calories and less protein than puppies to maintain an ideal body condition.
How big is his breed?
Large and small breed dogs have different needs. Large breed dogs do best on formulas that help support joint health and maintain an ideal body condition. Large breed puppies also benefit from food that’s specifically formulated to meet their unique needs. Small breed dogs have small mouths, so they may have difficulty chewing kibble that’s designed for medium and large breed dogs. Small breed formulas have smaller kibble pieces, so they’re easier to chew.
How active is your new dog?
Very active dogs and working dogs need high protein dog food to meet their energy needs and build lean muscle. More sedentary dogs don’t burn as much energy, so they don’t require as much protein, fat and calories.
Reading the labels on dog food packages is an important part of selecting the right food. Once you’ve found a formula that fits your new dog’s life stage, breed size and activity level, flip the bag over and look at the ingredient list. All ingredients are listed in descending order by content weight. What kind of protein does it contain? Which vitamins and minerals are in it? Is the formula 100% complete and balanced?
If you’re still confused, don’t hesitate to ask others for advice or recommendations. Your veterinarian, trusted friends and family members can all be helpful resources. Once you’ve selected a food, transition your dog to his new food slowly over the course of 7-10 days to avoid digestive upset. Each day, give him a little more of his new food and a little less of his old food, until he’s only eating the new food.
Here’s to giving your new dog the best start with proper nutrition. Keep up the great work!