Dog eating

Choosing the right food for your dog

As a dog lover, you want to feed your pet pooch the best possible diet that’ll help to keep them healthy and happy.

But with the vast range of options out there, how do you choose the best food for your dog?

We look at the various types of dog food available, to help you make the right choice.

Dog food that suits your pet… and your budget

There’s no getting away from it: while you want to give your pet pooch the very best in life, the food you buy your dog will depend on your budget.

Prices range dramatically, from super-premium Hill’s and Royal Canin, top brands such as James Wellbeloved, Iams and Wainwrights, vet-approved Nature’s Range and cheaper options such as supermarket own-brand dog food.

Remember, you get what you pay for, and the more expensive brands often contain carefully balanced vitamins and minerals, as well as benefiting from the science and research that go into the development of their premium dog food.

Cheaper dog food is often made from inexpensive ingredients that can be harder for your dog to digest, and have less nutritional value.

“A dog food that has meat, fish or egg either first or second in the ingredients list is likely to be a good source of protein.”

What’s best – wet or dry dog food?

Every dog responds to food in his or her own way, so it’s impossible to recommend one type of food that’s best for your dog. Dry dog food – often called biscuits or dry kibbles – is often recommended, but canned foods can also be a good choice. You may even find your dog enjoys a combination of wet and dry food.

You may want to try out different brands and feeding schedules before settling on one that suits your dog. Your vet can provide advice on wet or dry dog food options to suit your dog’s age, health and lifestyle.

Choosing the right dog food for your pet’s stage of life

On that note, it’s important to choose a dog food that’s been specially developed for your dog’s stage of life.

Puppies, with their immature digestive and immune systems, have different dietary needs to older dogs. Younger dogs may need to consume more calories to fuel their energetic lives, while older dogs – who are often less active – may need less food, or a senior dog food that’s easier for them to digest without putting on weight.

Similarly to life-stage, size can make a difference too, for example large breed dogs have specific diets due to growth.

The nutritional value of dog food

When you’re choosing a healthy dog food, it’s always a good idea to check the list of ingredients on the packet.

It’s the law for pet food manufacturers to list their ingredients by weight.

Choosing a dog food that has meat, fish or egg either first or second in the ingredients list means it’s likely to be a good source of protein – one ingredient vital for a healthy dog.

How do I know I’m feeding my dog well?

Once you’ve decided on a dog food, see how your pooch is doing after a month or so on their new diet. If they’re energetic, have a shiny coat, bright eyes and is neither over nor underweight, chances are you’re doing a good job with your pet's nutrition.

My dog has a health problem. What should I feed him?

If your dog has been diagnosed with a health issue, or a dietary intolerance, your vet will advise you on a specific diet to suit their condition.

Need advice on choosing the right food for your dog?

For expert advice on a nutritious diet to feed your dog, speak to your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.