No bones about it, your pup needs proper nutrition every day. This shouldn’t seem so hard in the land of whole-grained goodness, but with many options, come many choices. What’s right for your dog? Only your vet knows for sure, so consult with your vet before choosing or changing your dog’s diet. But for everyday tips on choosing top dog chow, The Whole Dog Journal serves up these tasty morsels:

Know thy pup. Is your dog a puppy or just a pup at heart? Does he dash all day or lumber from bowl to bed? Considering your dog’s caloric needs is the first step in choosing the right food.

Honor special diets. Allergies? Digestive issue? Think through your dog’s problem foods first.

Don’t believe the hype. As for feed tend to mislead. So read the ingredient labels of any dog food you consider — don’t let the packaging, photos and adjectives fool you.

Be pro protein. Top dog foods list one or two animal proteins within the first three to four ingredients on the package, and the first ingredient listed is always the main ingredient. Looks for beef, fish, poultry, but no animal bi-products (which really means a mix of whatever’s on hand –feet, feathers, other icky things).

Go for the grains. Whole grain ingredients and vegetables are essential for your dog, but grains are often used as cheap fillers. Avoid dog foods that include corn since it’s a common food allergy for dogs and very hard for their tiny intestines to digest.

Reserve the preserves. Not all preservatives are trouble. Natural ones such as vitamins B, C or E are healthier choices than any artificial colors or flavors. And skip the sweeteners too. Quality foods don’t need fake fillers and sugar to please a pup’s palette.

Get what you pay for: Sure, you can find cheaper dog food than the good stuff, but not in the long run. Pay for quality chow now and you’ll have a healthier dog with fewer trips to vet.


The Scoop:

For more information about dog foods and healthy dog care, check out The Whole Dog Journal.

Thank you to Liz and Buddy from in Hawaii for the photo.