It’s easy to become overwhelmed while trying to pick a food for your pet. After all, there are so many options to choose from, and even different types of foods like wet, dry, dehydrated, fresh and frozen. How are you supposed to know where to start?
“Every pet is different and every pet deserves a food for their unique needs,” Lisa Lippman, DVM, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She recommends keeping the following criteria in mind before you buy a new food:
Think about your pet’s age. “Our pets go through many life stages,” Lippman says. “Your pet’s food should change as they do.” There are specific formulations on the market targeted toward young pets, mature pets and pets in between. If you’re not sure where your pet falls on the spectrum, ask your vet.
Read the label. This can be confusing if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. “Trying to understand your pet’s food by reading the label can leave you more confused than when you started,” Lippman says. Ingredients tend to be listed in descending order by weight. So if you see meat, poultry or fish as the first ingredient, it usually means that meat is the most abundant ingredient by weight, she says.
Look for foods that are AAFCO approved. AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, Lippman explains, and its officials work to enforce their state’s laws and regulations over the safety of pet food.
“Choosing a pet food that follows these guidelines is probably a good start,” Lippman says. “But, if you find yourself stressing over choosing the right food for your pet, step away from the internet, take a deep breath and head to your vet’s office.”