As many of our regular followers have seen, we here at Cockapoo Crazy have been working hard on pointing out the problems with what we consider to be the low-quality pet foods that many manufacturers are putting out. It can be a confusing issue. They advertise the health benefits, put pictures of healthy pups, put it in attractive packaging…but how do we really know it is healthy?

Understandably, dog owners are concerned, and they want help in determining what dry dog food to give their cockapoo. They want to make the right decision for the sake of their beloved pups. Well, help is here. While we cannot choose your precise kibble for you, we can give you some ideas on a good way to make your decision.

And it all starts with the label.

When you look at the label of your kibble, be sure to pay close attention to the first five ingredients. Generally, the higher on the ingredient list an item is, the more there is of that in the kibble. So when you see something like corn, corn meal, or corn gluten meal, as the first ingredient in your dogs food, this means that your cockapoo is getting little to no nutritional value from the major ingredient in their food. Corn, although it is a food in nature, is not something that a dog would normally look for to eat. Ever hear about the issues with all the wild dogs and wolves gobbling up corn fields instead of hunting for game? Probably not, because it doesn’t happen. Dogs may eat corn if it is around, some dogs even like to chew corn cobs, but it is more of a filler than anything else. Think of corn like sugar for your dog. It will break down as carbohydrates in the system, so it should be very low on any ingredient list of kibble – preferably, not there at all.

Dogs need a good ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Protein is most often the thing that you should look for in a larger percentage, unless your cockapoo is on a special lower-protein diet. When choosing kibble for your dog, try to find one with the first ingredient being a labeled meat, or some kind of meat meal. Meats and meat meals are better choices than meat by-product meal, which can include things you might not want in your dog’s food. Animal digests do not fit into a healthy diet, either. The best choices for meats are turkey, chicken (sourced from a reliable place, since there has been a lot of trouble with chicken sourced in China lately), bison, ocean fish, lamb, or beef. Dogs with sensitive stomachs can usually tolerate ocean fish well, and it is considered a “gentler” protein than red meats. Very high protein foods can be too much for a dog if they don’t get a lot of exercise, so do your research and consult a veterinarian or nutritional adviser if you need extra help.

Grains are usually used for fillers, and this is okay to some extent, but you want to find high quality grain if you are going to go with a kibble that includes it. Good ones to look for are rolled oats, flax-seed, millet, barley, brown rice, and quinoa. These are all better choices than corn. The main reason fillers like these are often included, according to some, is to keep your cockapoo full between meals. As we said before, corn if a filler that is not nutritional, and some dogs develop allergies to corn when fed over long periods. We also are not fans of sugar in any dog food, and advise against getting any kibble with this in it. Sugar as an additive gives no benefit to your cockapoo, and likely is used solely to make your dog want to eat the food more. Not to mention the likely side effects of weight gain!

Lastly look for more natural preservatives, such as vitamin C and vitamin E. Ascorbic acid is preferable to citric acid, which may cause bloat. Questionable chemicals like propylene glycol should not appear in a quality kibble, nor should artificial dyes or colors. The majority of dry dog foods do need to have some form of preservative, since it takes a long time to get to your home from creation to bowl. Anytime you can find a natural vitamin as the preservative, it is better than artificial preservatives.

These are some tips to follow, but we must stress that only you can find the right dog food for your pet. Look up the ones you are interested in and find reviews on them online. Do a search for pet food recalls. Ask questions at our Facebook page, where well over 7,000 dog owners can tell you what works for them. Visit the Facebook pages of the companies you are interested in and ask questions there. Talk to the animal nutritionist in your area, or a veterinarian. Remember though, some people (including veterinarians) are representatives for dog food companies and may not be the best source to make a choice with. Small pet food shops are a better choice than supermarkets and big box stores, and will have more knowledgeable staff and a better range of products. Be sure to find as unbiased of a source as possible.

One more note. When switching dog foods, always remember to try to introduce the new one over a long period of time, incrementally switching one out for the other. At least make it take a week, unless its an emergency and you have to switch right away. Dogs have sensitive digestive systems and they need time to get used to new foods if at all possible.