Food for Fido: How to make healthy choices for a long fur-life

Does your pup prefer canned or dry? Store-bought or homemade? There seem to be as many types of dog foods as there are dogs. How do you choose which food is a fit for your fido?

Nearly 40% of all Americans have a dog. That adds up to a lot of furry friends to take care of and feed. In fact, we spend about $99 billion a year on pet food and products. You want to make sure what you’re buying to feed fido is healthy.

Does your pup prefer canned or dry? Store-bought or homemade? There seem to be as many types of dog foods as there are dogs. How do you choose which food is a fit for your fido?

“It can be very complex. First, ask yourself what life stage my dog is in?” said Brooke Delaney, a veterinarian from Winter Park Veterinary Hospital.

Most importantly, make sure it has the AAFCO label.

“Make sure that the feeding officials have signed off that this is a balanced and complete diet that is not missing any important ingredients or nutrients. If it does not have that AAFCO label, I would put that food back and go to a different bag,” said Delaney.

It’s just as important to make sure the AAFCO label matches what the bag says. The label will say puppy if it’s for puppies or seniors if it’s for seniors.

“Maintenance can actually mean that it covers all life stages, which is something that you don’t want,” Delaney said.

Also, look for proof of clinical trials.

“If you don’t see that. And it just says that it’s a formulated diet, that should raise a red flag for you,” Delaney said.

And what about natural foods?

“Natural can be written on any bag. There are no standards,” Delaney said.

Delaney said expensive does not mean better. It can be pricey but not be AAFCO approved and not tested in clinical trials. It can cost a lot and not contain all the proper vitamins and nutrients your dog needs.

So bottom line, make sure it has the AAFCO label. You can also go online and check to see if your dog food company has a board-certified nutritionist on staff.