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How to Choose a Healthy Dog Food

Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
By Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
Updated: 5/8/20242-4 minutes
healthy dog food

Feeding your dog a complete and balanced dog food is one of the most important things you can do for their health. So, what do you need to know about making smart choices when choosing a dog food?  

The truth is, there is no “perfect dog food” because different dogs have different nutritional needs. Instead, there are a few key factors you should consider when you’re choosing a healthy food for your dog. A good start is making sure that the food you’re giving your dog is complete and balanced. Also, choose a dog food that has an AAFCO statement on its packaging.  

What to Consider When Choosing a Dog Food

The same way that there’s no dog food that’s uniformly perfect for every dog, there’s also no dog food that will be perfect for your dog throughout the entirety of their life. Changes need to be made from time to time based on several factors including age, size, activity level and nutritional needs.  


Dogs have different nutritional needs at different points in their lives. Feeding your dog a healthy food formulated for their life stage means they’re getting all the nutrients they need in just the right balance.  

If you’re looking for a healthy puppy food, choose one with high-quality protein and fish oil. Protein helps support growing muscles and DHA, an important nutrient found in mother’s milk. Meanwhile, fish oil is excellent for supporting brain development and trainability. From the age of about one to seven, using an adult maintenance dog food can provide the right nutrients at the right level for this life stage. As your dog gets older, you may want to switch to a senior dog food formula


Some dogs do better on a diet formulated specifically for their size. Large or giant breed dogs may benefit more from dog food made with glucosamine and Omega-3 fatty acids, which support healthy joints. Small or toy breed dogs, meanwhile, may find it easier to dig into food with small, bite-sized kibble.  

Activity Level

Working dogs are going to burn more calories than a dog whose only exercise is the occasional walk. If your dog is an athlete, they may benefit from a nutrient-dense dog food designed for athletic dogs. On the other hand, if your dog is less active, you may want to consider a dog food for weight management to maintain their ideal body condition. 

Specific Nutritional Needs

Does your dog have a food preference or a condition like sensitive skin? You may want to consider a food formulated for their specific nutritional needs. Targeted nutrition can help support your dog’s condition. Create a personalized healthy dog food or find the Purina dog food that meets your dog's specific needs. 

Remember, dog food is the fuel that keeps your dog moving. Feeding them with a robust food option for their life stage, activity level and specific nutritional needs will be instrumental in supporting their health and longevity. 

Taking the time to do a bit of research and consulting with your veterinarian is essential. Make sure you know the appropriate food quantity to feed your dog so they can stay lean and healthy. Taking these steps can make a big difference for you and your dog.  

Get more tips on dog food, nutrition and more from our experts on our Pet Expertise page.

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