Faced with the entire kibble shelves of supermarkets, pet stores and specialized brands, it is difficult to make a choice. Cereal-free, rich in protein, organic, for seniors, for sterilized dogs, for large dogs, for diabetic dogs… how do you know what food is best suited to your dog? To help you make your choice and find quality kibble to meet your pet’s nutritional needs, we will guide you through the different steps to follow.
A first sorting according to the profile of your dog
First of all, the first sorting is done automatically by your dog’s profile. No need to compare puppy kibble labels if your dog is older, or diabetic dog kibble if yours is in great shape. The dog kibble market distinguishes three main categories of kibble, each subdivided into several sub-categories.
- dog breeds: certain breeds of dogs have specific needs due to their energy, health, fragility or susceptibility to several diseases or disorders. We thus distinguish between croquettes for Yorkshire, croquettes for bulldogs, for husky, etc.
- the dietary needs of dogs: there are kibbles specially developed to meet a medical profile. We thus distinguish kibbles for allergic dogs from those for diabetic dogs, dogs suffering from heart problems or digestive disorders, etc.
- the physiological needs of dogs: each profile has its croquettes, for example for adult dogs, seniors, sterilized dogs, puppies, pregnant dogs, sporting dogs, indoor dogs, etc.
However, if this first selection helps you and directs you to a certain type of croquettes, it is not enough. Indeed, your dog can fall into several categories without finding what is necessary for his needs. Indeed, your senior dog may have other needs than just senior food. Your Labrador may not find the same nutritional qualities for its balance in a large dog diet as in a breed-specific diet. Even the latter may be insufficient if he suffers from a particular pathology, if his physical activity is important or if his energy needs are different.
So, if this first sorting helps you to turn to certain categories of croquettes and to eliminate some of them, other criteria must be taken into account to make the right choice.
A second sorting by studying the nutritional quality of the croquettes
To further refine your choice, you will need to study the labels of dog food in order to analyze their nutritional qualities.
The list of ingredients
As with the products we consume, the list of ingredients for dog food details the ingredients in order of importance, in other words from the most represented to the least present in the composition.
The first ingredients on the list are therefore the most important, because they are the most numerous. It is essential that these are quality ingredients.
You can already eliminate kibbles that have too much grain; these are cheap foods that are not good for your dog’s balance. However, be careful, because some clever industrialists divide the different cereals into sub-headings to better pass the pill. Analyze the whole list.
Why is it recommended to avoid too much grain? Quite simply because cereals were not part of the original diet of dogs. However, as with cats, many dogs have developed their ability to digest starch. A diet containing a reasonable proportion of good quality cereals is generally preferable to kibbles without cereals, but based on poor quality proteins.
Don’t always trust meat directions. Indeed, to place it first, manufacturers base themselves on the share of fresh meat. However, once in the finished product, it lost its water and was therefore reduced considerably. Divide the quantity by four to know its real value; you will find that it does not often stay in the first position.
Choose animal protein sources over vegetable protein sources. The former are provided by meat, offal or fish. The second are provided by cereals and soybeans.
Prefer kibbles that contain as few additives as possible. Avoid preservatives, colorings, texturizers, flavor enhancers and artificial flavors. Prefer kibbles that contain natural preservatives such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and tocopherols (vitamin E). On the other hand, natural preservatives are less effective and the croquettes will not keep as long.
It is best to choose a brand of kibble that offers a detailed and clear list of its ingredients. Bad brands tend to stay vague and use vague terms. Likewise, if the sachet indicates that the ingredients have been cooked at a low temperature, this means that the proteins have been better preserved during cooking and that they will be better digested by your dog.
These elements are indicative of the nutrients present in the diet.
Prefer kibbles that contain a major portion of protein and few carbohydrates. However, the choice is not as simple as that, again! Indeed, some brands boast a high protein level, but these are only tendon and bone type by-products and not good cuts of meat. However, these parts are unfortunately poor in terms of nutritional quality, which is misleading for the buyer.
To make the right choice, compare this rate by detailing the list of ingredients as well as the share of ash.
Proteins are a real source of energy and essential amino acids for your dog. However, these needs can only be met by proteins of animal origin. To be of good quality, the protein rate (provided they are of good quality) should be at least 25%.
A high ash content, that is to say greater than or equal to 12%, should alert you. It means the kibble is high in poor quality protein. However, a low ash level can also mean that most of the protein is of vegetable and not animal origin.
These quality kibbles should provide a good balance between protein and caloric intake. This balance is calculated using the RPC, or protein-calorie ratio. The values of the report depend on the weight that your dog should ideally weigh and on certain factors such as sterilization, age, breed and sedentary lifestyle.
As a result, for kibbles to be suitable for your dog, their RPC must be greater than or equal to your pet’s RPC. If they have a lower CPR, they won’t be able to meet their daily nutritional needs.
Vitamins, minerals and fiber
Quality kibble should provide your dog with nearly 1% omega 3 and 4 times more omega 6. Also check the intake of vitamins, minerals and fibers that contribute to your animal’s well-being.
A third sorting by price
The price is a good indicator, because it reflects the quality of the croquettes. Low-cost food will necessarily be of poor quality. Avoid kibbles at less than 2 euros per kilo, they will systematically consist of mediocre ingredients and they will not be able to meet your dog’s needs. Some can even lead to digestive problems, kidney problems, irritations, allergies and cases of malnutrition.
Without necessarily throwing yourself on the most expensive croquettes, at least eliminate the low end ones. However, if you’ve done the first two sorting steps, you shouldn’t have to worry about this.
How do you know if you made the right choice?
A good quality diet covers your dog’s daily nutritional needs. However, even high quality kibble may not be sufficient for your particular pet’s needs. Like humans, dogs all have their specificities and your body may have higher expectations than the standards of its breed, age or profile.
Do not hesitate to do tests among the brands you have selected, but know that you will need a few months to see real results. Observe your dog’s general condition. If his skin is healthy, without dandruff, his hair shiny and dense, if you do not notice any degradation of his muscle mass or weight gain, his diet is probably suitable for him. Moreover, if his excrement remains small, well molded and normally fragrant, his croquettes seem adapted.