Ask your dog – Your dog’s opinion is important in choosing a dog food, but it’s not the only consideration. Dogs evolved as scavengers, and thus many of our pet dogs today will consume pretty much anything they can find. So choose a dog food that your dog enjoys and eats readily without coaxing, but remember that low-quality grocery store brands tend to have lower-quality ingredients and may not provide the best nutrition for your dog, even though he appears to enjoy them.
Know the ingredients – In general, foods that are less expensive have lower-quality ingredients. It makes sense when you think about it — a serving of fresh salmon costs more than a meal at Taco Bell, after all. So choose a food for your dog that has as many “whole” ingredients on the label as possible.
One very important nutrient that’s typically left to the discretion of the food manufacturer is omega-3 fatty acids. Most foods don’t add this nutrient because even though we recognize the huge importance of it, we also know that keeping it stable in a bag of dry dog food is problematic. That’s why omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil capsules or liquid are a great thing to supplement in any dog’s diet.
Treats are not food – There’s a dizzying array of dog treats available to pet food consumers these days, and it’s worth reminding everyone reading this that treats are not food. Treats do not have to be “complete and balanced,” so on their own they do not provide adequate nutrition for adult dogs. Remember this when you find yourself giving more and more treats and less and less actual food. If your dog prefers treats to the point of not eating his food, he’s either got you well-trained or it’s time to consider a switch to a new diet that he considers more palatable.