Selecting the Right Food Maia is the Nutritionist over at Vitalin Pet Foods, who have been great supporters of our charity. She spends her time formulating and testing pet food recipes to ensure your beloved furry pals are getting everything they need in their diet. As part of our Pawsitive Nutrition Campaign, we asked Maia to give us a rundown of what we should be considering when selecting a food for our canine companions. ‘Choosing the right food for your dog can be daunting. There are so many different products, so how do you find the right one? Creating a checklist can break down the different things you and your dog want, or need in a dog food, and make the choice easier. For most people, the first point on their checklist is their dog’s age. Choosing the right food for each life stage is important as your dog’s nutritional and dietary requirements change throughout their life. For example, puppies have different nutritional requirements to adults, which means the diet you choose should be specifically for puppies or a diet that has been developed to be suitable for all life stages. A key thing to check is if the food is ‘complete’ or ‘complementary’, which will be written on the pack. A complete diet is the easiest way to make sure your dog gets everything that they need nutritionally from their food without you having to add any extras. Whereas with a complementary food, such as a mixer, you will need to add other foods to make it nutritionally complete and balanced. Another point on your checklist should be any dietary needs that your dog has and anything extra that you want the diet to support such as dental health, digestive health or even stool odour. Your dog may prefer certain flavours or if they have allergies or intolerances you may need to find a diet that does not include a particular ingredient. The composition, which lists the ingredients, and any claims that are made on-pack can help. However, it is also important that if your dog has or if you suspect that your dog has allergies or medical conditions to seek advice from your vet when making the choice. Feeding guidelines on the pack will give suggested amounts to feed your dog each day and can be a handy way to work out how much it is likely to cost you per day to feed your dog. They are a good starting point, but factors such as breed, sex, age, body condition and activity levels are also important to think about and will affect how much your dog needs. They can also provide and remind us of important information such as the need for a gradual change onto the new food from the old one to help to prevent digestive upset that may be caused if this is done too quickly. Another point people often forget on their checklist is their own needs! You might want to include a price range or if you have limited storage space, you may need to be able to buy smaller bags. If you have young family members who are likely to interact with your dog and their food, you may need to consider food hygiene including storage and preparation (the pack will give information such as storage conditions or how long it can be used after opening or defrosting). It may also be, if you put your dog into kennels or someone helps to look after them, that these people have requirements too! There really is something out there to suit everyone but remember when choosing your dog’s diet, you’re not alone. Whether the most suitable person is your vet or a nutritionist from the company who makes the dog food, we’re always happy to help!’ For more information on canine nutrition, you can download our free ‘Good Nutrition Guide’ HERE. This guide also includes a 25% off voucher for online purchases at Vitalin Pet Foods with the added bonus that for every voucher redeemed; Vitalin will provide us with a day’s worth of food for one of our rescue dogs for free!