In 2021, U.S. households spent a whopping $123.6 billion on their pets. Of these expenditures, $50 billion went toward pet food and treats. Veterinarian care was the second largest spending, amounting to $34.3 billion.

After all, 73% or 90.5 million U.S. households lived with a pet in 2021. And of these families, the majority (69 million or 75%) had dogs.

Those figures prove that canines remain the favorite animal companions of Americans. So if you’re getting or adopting one yourself, it’s wise to learn more about proper dog feeding tips.

Luckily, you went to the right place. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to choose the best dog food, so keep reading.

Mind Your Pal’s Age

Choosing the best dog food requires considering your pet’s age. Age, in turn, determines a dog’s nutritional needs.

For one, pups need more calories than adults due to their rapid growth rate within the first five months of life. During this period, they gain an average of 2 to 4 grams per day per kilogram of their expected adult weight.

That growth rate then plateaus after six months. By 8 to 12 months, small to medium breeds have grown completely. On the other hand, giant breeds finish growing by 10 to 16 months.

Therefore, the best dog food brands have formulas based on age-related energy needs. For the same reason, you’ll see products labeled as “puppy food” or “adult dog food.” Puppy food has more energy-giving nutrients than those for older dogs.

That said, please feed your canine pals based on those age considerations. Otherwise, if you feed pups with adult food, they may become undernourished. Conversely, giving adult dogs puppy food can make them overweight or obese.

Factor in Your Canine Companion’s Breed

Canine organizations worldwide have recognized over 350 dog breeds. For example, the Federation Cynologique Internationale, the world’s largest canine organization, recognizes 350+. On the other hand, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has 195 recognized breeds.

In any case, breed matters in dog nutrition, as it’s a primary indicator of size.

For example, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds are “large size” breeds. Thus, they need more nutrients than smaller dogs. However, they also reach their senior years faster.

That’s also why sites like,, and, review pet foods based on breed. So if you need extra help picking dog food brands that are best for your pal’s breed, check out these resources.

Have Your Pup Tested for Allergies

Although not as common as flea allergies, food allergies can also occur in dogs. According to vets, about 10% of reported canine allergies have to do with food allergens. Some common symptoms are itchy skin, hives, swelling, chronic infections, and gastroenteritis.

Because they can’t talk, it’s best to have pups tested for food allergies first.

An elimination trial is the most accurate way to diagnose a food allergy in dogs. It involves putting them on a special hypoallergenic diet for eight to twelve weeks. In addition, the meals shouldn’t contain any ingredients they’ve eaten in the past.

A veterinarian can also perform blood tests on your dog to determine food allergies. Known as serum IgE tests, they involve taking a small sample of your pet’s blood. The vet can then analyze the test results to confirm potential food allergens.

Learn the ABC of Your Dog’s Diet

Dogs need protein-derived amino acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to survive. Therefore, you must know what these nutrients are when buying dog food. Fortunately, high-quality pet feed brands contain a balanced ratio of these dietary essentials.

Amino Acids

Canines need 22 amino acids from protein sources, 10 of which they can’t produce on their own. Also called essential amino acids, these ten must come from the food you give them. They’re the building blocks of proteins and compounds necessary for optimal dog health.


Carbohydrates provide dogs with energy, including dietary fibers, starches, and sugar. They often come from cereals, legumes, and other plant-based ingredients. Grains, fruits, and vegetables are other valuable sources of such nutrients.

Fatty Acids

Fatty acids play a role in the structure and functions of cells in your dog’s body. Essential fatty acids, in turn, are those your pet can’t make on its own, so they must be present in food. Omega-3 and omega-6 are some examples of essential fatty acids.


Like humans, dogs also need vitamins, albeit in lower concentrations. These include vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, D, E, and K. Choline is another nutrient they need in adequate amounts.


Dogs need two types of minerals: macro (major) minerals and micro (minor) minerals. The former include calcium, chloride, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur. The latter include copper, chromium, fluorine, manganese, zinc, iodine, and selenium.

Know the Danger Foods

While most foods safe for humans are also safe for dogs, some of your favorite treats may be toxic to them. Avocados and chocolate, for instance, can put them in grave danger. Grapes, raisins, macadamia, walnuts, mushroom, garlic, and chives can also harm them.

Consider Your Dog’s Current Health Condition

Another consideration when choosing the best dog food is if your pet has a health problem. For example, if your canine pal has diabetes, a low-fat, high-fiber diet may be ideal. If your dog has a heart condition, a low-calorie, no-salt diet may be better.

Either way, a vet can help develop a more appropriate meal plan for your beloved furry family member. So if you think your dog has a health condition, please don’t delay bringing them to an animal doctor.

Keep in Mind These Dog Feeding Practices

And there you have it, your ultimate guide on proper dog feeding practices. Now you know age, breed, allergies, and health conditions are vital factors to consider. You also learned about the nutrients they need and that some of your favorite snacks can put them in danger.

So, the next time you go shopping for dog food, remember all the tips we shared above.

Are you looking for other informative guides like this? We have more to share, so feel free to check them out now!

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