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Dog Food Types FAQs


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Which food should I feed?
When choosing a pet food, consider your dog's or cat's life stage, body composition, and preferences. In general, we recommend feeding a healthy food containing high-quality ingredients. If you are unsure of which food to feed your pet, we recommend first talking with your local veterinarian. Learn more about choosing the best food for your dog. You can also call us toll free at 1-800-826-7206 if you have additional questions.
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Should I feed my specific breed a specific food?
Your pet's nutritional needs are not based specifically on breed, but rather on age, activity level, temperament, environment, and physical makeup. Essentially, your pet requires good nutrition to remain happy and healthy. Therefore, look for a food that fits your pet's basic health and nutritional needs, rather than breed. And as always, if you're unsure about what to feed your pet, contact your veterinarian.
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Which of your foods feature small kibble?
Whether you have a small pet, a senior pet, or a pet who simply prefers small kibble, Drs. Foster & Smith has delicious, small-kibble food to satisfy your pet's nutritional needs. All Drs. Foster & Smith pet foods feature small kibble. We also offer Eukanuba Adult Maintenance Small Bites dog food and Iams Adult MiniChunks dog food, two foods specially created for dogs who prefer small kibble.
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Should I avoid economy brands of dog food?
As with many consumer products, you basically get what you pay for when it comes to pet foods. Economy brands of dog food, while often easy on the pocketbook, are made of the cheapest ingredients available. As such, they are not as beneficial for your dog. Their energy values are lower, their proteins are lower-grade, and they contain higher levels of "filler" ingredients. This means that much of the food passes right through your dog's system without being digested and absorbed. Unfortunately, this can lead to a larger quantity of stool (and more to pick up in the yard).
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What are the benefits of premium brands of dog food?
Premium brands, which include those classified as Super Premium and Performance, use higher-quality ingredients from sources with higher biological values. Because better-quality ingredients mean better digestibility, your dog does not need to eat as much and he produces less waste (which means less to pick up in the yard).

Remember, the back of the dog food bag does not tell the entire story, including important information like percent digestibility - how much of the food your dog's body will actually use. Talk to your veterinarian about the best food for your dog.
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What are healthy foods?
Healthy foods - the newest addition to the pet food market - represent an evolution in quality. They provide pets with the highest quality, healthiest, and most nutritious ingredients. Formulated to provide optimum health benefits for pets, these foods often use whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, real meat as the primary protein source, and carbohydrate-rich whole grains like brown rice and barley. They should not contain artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. They will almost always be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, and will use the best natural sources for fatty acids to help build healthy skin and a beautiful coat. Because healthy foods use high quality ingredients, you should expect to pay a little more than you would on other types of pet food. Remember, though, with healthy foods you can feed less since healthy foods are more nutrient-dense than other types of food. Healthy foods are typically available for purchase online or direct from the manufacturer.
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Which is better - dry food or canned food?
Dry food has definite benefits over canned food:

  • Dry food is more convenient to serve.
  • Dry food is easy to store.
  • Dry food has less odor.
  • Dry food is more hygienic and less likely to spoil once placed in the pet's bowl.
  • Dry food is less expensive.
  • Dry food exercises the mouth and can reduce the buildup of tartar.

If your pet has certain medical conditions for which you need to increase his or her water intake (such as kidney disease or a bladder infection), feeding canned food may be more beneficial since it has a higher water content. Ask your veterinarian.
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Can I mix dry food with canned food?
Yes, you can mix dry food with canned food, but you will lose the benefits of dry food. (You'll have more odor, increased chance for spoilage, increased expense, and less dental benefits.) If you choose to mix your pet's food, be sure to adjust quantities accordingly.
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Should I feed my dog semi-moist foods?
Semi-moist foods, although convenient, generally have a high level of sugar or sugar products, such as corn syrup. Sugar and sugar products are not good sources of nutrition for dogs, and can contribute to dental disease. In addition, semi-moist foods often contain a number of artificial colors and preservatives. Finally, they can be hard on the pocketbook! For almost all pets, dry food is the food of choice.
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What types of food shall I feed my senior dog?
Your older dog will need a well-balanced diet that is lower in calories, protein, and fat yet higher in fiber. You may be able to continue feeding your dog her regular food, but in a smaller quantity. Or you may need a specially formulated senior diet. Commercially prepared senior diets have a protein of around 18% whereas diets for dogs in renal failure are around 14% protein. If your dog has significantly decreased kidney function, then a diet lower in protein will lower the workload for the kidneys. Lower fat usually translates to lower calories so many senior diets have a fat level of around 10 to 12%. Older dogs are more prone to develop constipation, so senior diets are higher in fiber (around 3 to 5%). You can also add wheat bran to regular dog food to increase fiber intake. Finally, feeding your dog dry food (if she will eat it) will help to control tartar build-up and reduce gum disease.
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