One of the best things a pet owner can do for a canine is invest in the proper dog food. Canine health and well-being is directly correlated to diet, so if you want your dog to live a long and happy life, don’t be stingy on the food you’re feeding your pet. If you consider your furry friend to be man’s best friend, follow these tips for buying the best dog food next time you peruse the pet food aisle at your local grocery store.

Don’t Purchase Before Reading Labels

Most humans read the labels on food and beverage products before making the purchase, so why shouldn’t the same be done for canine food? The best way to avoid harmful ingredients is to understand how to read labels properly. If you’re on a budget, it might be tempting to throw the cheapest kibble in the shopping cart, or whatever is on special for the week.

This might be the budget-friendly practice now, but it is important to think about the future. Cheap dog food and wreak havoc on a canine’s health, which can directly translate into hefty vet bills down the road. So instead of having that instant gratification mindset, think in terms of the future when it comes to a dog’s health.

The best way to do this is to read the labels to ensure that no harmful products are being fed to the dog. Whenever possible, avoid wheat-based foods. A lot of people don’t realize that dogs experience gluten sensitivities just as humans do. Unlike humans, though, dogs have no control of what they eat since they rely on their humans to feed them. A gluten-sensitive dog will simply eat wheat-based food, but this can eventually lead to gut problems.

Protein is Extremely Important in a Dog’s Diet

This is fairly obvious to most dog owners, but it is time to reiterate the importance of proteins for canines. All dog foods will claim to have a certain level of protein, but understanding the difference between high quality and low quality protein is a must. Many pet food manufacturers will try to get away with low-quality proteins that have very little value, and still pass it off as a food high in protein.

DogFirst says that “most dry foods sold by vets are at the minimum required for growth, the legal floor they are permitted to include and call the product ‘complete’ dog food. The higher this figure is, generally, the better off your dogs are shown to be.” Technically for dogs, there is no such thing as too much protein (even though there is for humans).

Consider the Color

Technically the majority of dog foods are colored with some sort of coloring or dying agent. Without colouring, all dog food would be an unappetizing grey color. Natural colors like brown are fine, but pet owners should do their best to avoid unnatural red, yellow, and green colored dog foods.