What Is the Best Maintenance Dog Food?

Dogs might not have the most discerning taste, but what's in their bowl matters.
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Inherent in dogs is their willingness to eat just about anything. Dogs tend to gobble up everything from yesterday's newspaper to your best shoes, and any kibble you place in front of them. While their palate may be satisfied with a variety of interesting foods, a nutritious maintenance food is the best choice for sustaining good health and well-being.

Peas Please

If dog's could talk, it isn't likely they'd ask for a plate of peas, but vegetables are an important ingredient in commercial dog food. A good maintenance food should contain proteins, vitamins and minerals, vegetables, essential fatty acids and grains. According to Mike Sagman of Dog Food Advisor, the first five ingredients listed on a bag of maintenance dog food are the most prominent, as federal law requires ingredients to be listed in order of most prominent in terms of weight. Knowing what to look for is essential, but the overload of choices can be baffling.

Individually Speaking

To further educate dog owners, Dog Food Advisor sifted through thousands of commercial dog foods to compile a Best Pet Foods list in a variety of categories. The reason behind their decision to break down the list categorically is simple -- dogs are individuals, and their nutritional needs vary as much as they do. Many dogs develop food allergies, especially dogs who've eaten the same diet for a prolonged period of time. If your dog is food allergic, kibble that excludes ingredients he cannot tolerate is the best choice. Equally as important is your dog's age, activity level and ideal weight. Senior dogs benefit from dog food formulated for older or geriatric dogs, and overweight dogs are better maintained on food lower in calories.

The Name Game

With hundreds of choices, it's difficult to pick the right kibble to maintain the good health of your canine friend. You might be lured by identifiers such as "natural" and "gourmet," but according to Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York, there is no standard when it comes to labeling commercial food in this manner. With such conflicting information, it's difficult to know what to trust. To make the right choice, it may be necessary to call in the professionals.

In Their Expert Opinion

Wellness visits are an important part of your dog's life, and a great opportunity to talk to your veterinarian about nutrition. As your dog ages, his dietary needs may change, and as your veterinarian builds a relationship with you and your pal, he'll be able to identify which maintenance food meets your canine friend's specific nutritional needs. He may suggest a prescription diet, but if that's not an affordable option, when armed with his recommendations, you can more easily navigate the dog food aisle.