What food should I feed my dog?
This article is written by Pet Circle pet expert and owner of a small chihuahua army,
Wondering which type of dog food is best for your pooch? Finding it difficult to choose between the vast array of products that all claim to be superior over the others? Follow our guide below to help choose the right food for your dog.
Things to consider when choosing the best diet for your dog:
Age specific formulas are designed for the different life stages of your dog. Puppy formulas will have higher levels of fats, proteins and essential vitamins to accommodate for the accelerated growth rate of your pooch in their first 12-24 months. Senior formulas are highly digestible and contain adequate protein to help maintain muscle mass, and higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids (sourced from ingredients like fish, chicken, or flaxseed) for anti-inflammatory effects that help conditions such as arthritis, renal disease, and skin issues.
Small dogs under 10kg
Smaller breeds will need less time on a puppy diet than larger dogs as they have less growing to do. If kept on a puppy formula for too long, they're likely to gain excess weight. Generally smaller breeds are weaned onto adult diets at 12 months and will stay on an adult diet until 8 years of age. Brands like Advance have diets with smaller sized kibble to accommodate for the daintier jaws of smaller breeds.
Medium dogs between 10-25kg
Medium breeds will usually be kept on a puppy formula until the age of 12 months. They will stay on an adult diet until 7 years of age after which you may look at transitioning to a food formulated for senior dogs. Royal Canin have diet formulas just for these breeds, as well as diets to support certain health conditions like sensitive skin.
Large Breeds over 25kg
Bigger dogs are generally categorized as either large (25 - 45kg) or giant (>45kg), and the food and medication they consume will also generally be grouped in this way. Dogs 25kg and over are usually kept on a puppy diet until 18-24 months of age. They are then fed an adult formula until 6 years of age after which they should be transitioned to a senior diet.
Due to their large body frame and weight putting more pressure on their bones and joints, large breed dogs can experience complications with arthritis and joint degeneration much earlier than smaller breeds. Advance Large breed, as an example, not only has a larger kibble size to suit these dogs, but the formula is designed to promote a healthy weight and reduce the impact of conditions such as arthritis.
Please note, ages and weights specified above are a guide only and some brands may have different specifications depending on their formulation. The weights for different breeds are based on the expected adult weight, not the weight they are during their growth state.
There are significant price differences between dog food brands. Just like human food, there are higher and lower quality foods available for our pets.
It's easy to be fooled by cheap pet foods as we naturally compare by the price per kilo, when really we should be looking at the cost per feed.
Premium foods have a higher absorption rate than cheap foods which means that you feed a lesser amount to your dog to get the required nutrients. The higher absorption rate also means less waste, so you should have smaller and fewer poopy landmines to dodge in your backyard.
Many low-cost foods will also be vague when specifying their ingredients which allows them to change their food formulas between batches. For example, formulations may change depending on the price of ingredients at the time of manufacture and these sudden changes in diet may cause digestive upsets such as vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Not sure how to understand what's in your dog's food? Check out our article How do I read the label on a bag of dog food?.
When taking both quality and cost into consideration, you'll notice that there are significant advantages to choosing premium dog food brands over the cheaper alternatives often available in your supermarket.
For example, Labradors are well known for hoovering their food which often causes excessive weight gain and digestive complications. Royal Canin Labrador kibble is unique in shape and size which significantly reduces the guzzling of food.
Advance has recently released a line of breed-specific diets for Aussie dogs, including a Terrier Diet suitable for staffies, which provides extra skin support and a tasty ocean fish recipe.
Our Top Breed Specific Varieties
Royal Canin Labrador is enriched with beneficial oils for healthy skin, targeted nutrients to support bone and joint health, an adapted calorie content to prevent excess weight gain.
Advance Terrier is made with increased levels of natural omega-3 fatty acids, a skin vitamin blend and high quality salmon, making it ideal for terriers including staffies, who are prone to itchy and sensitive skin.
Royal Canin Pug is specifically formulated with optimal levels of protein and l-carnitine to help maintain good muscle tone, as well as beneficial oils for healthy skin. It also has an exclusive kibble size, shape and texture designed with the pug jaw shape in mind.
Advance's diet for Shepherds uses turkey as a novel protein source and other highly digestible ingredients to support optimal digestion. Green Lipped Mussel is added to help manage joint disease, a condition that large breed dogs are particularly prone to.
For pets already suffering from medical conditions, super premium manufacturers Hill's, Royal Canin and Pro Plan have created Prescription/Veterinary diets for the prevention or management of common conditions.
Examples of these include; allergies, obesity, urinary crystals or bladder issues and kidney disease. These diets need to be prescribed by a veterinarian and regular check ups are recommended.
The natural pet food industry is ever-growing. More and more people are getting on board the 'natural' train and reaping the benefits. Pet owners generally report many improvements after swapping to a natural diet, the most common being improved skin and coat, as well smaller, firmer stools.
Our Top Natural Diets for Dogs
This salmon diet from Billy and Margot is one of the few diets on the market that includes either raw or fresh fish as the number one ingredient.
Using a grain-free formula and fish as the only protein source, this diet is very well-reviewed by owners of itchy dogs.
This dry food is very popular among owners of dogs with skin issues. It is Australian-made and grain free, and its high palatability means it is good for tempting fussy eaters.
Savourlife produces natural, Australian made dry food for adult dogs, and gives 50% of profits to rescue shelters. This formula is made with nutritious kangaroo; and dogs love it!
Every pet family is different
It may be overwhelming choosing the right food for your dog, but following our guide will give you a great head start!
Just remember that every pet family is different! To re-cap, your first step is to choose the food that best suits your dog's age and size. This will narrow down the available options making selection a simpler process.
If you know that your dog's breed is prone to certain conditions like joint degeneration, a targeted food such as Hills Science Diet Mobility to improve joint flexibility and motion may be the best option.
If you have multiple pets in your household consider whether a food that is nutritionally suitable for all breeds and ages, such as Canidae All Life Stages is a more convenient option.