As a dog owner, you know the importance of giving healthy food to your pet. What you feed them will determine their appearance, general health, and even their mood.

Like humans, dogs need fresh and nutritious food they can easily digest and one that will make them active. However, as dog owners you must be careful not to fall for marketing or packaging. There were over 50 dog food recalls last year, and many were from well known brands such as Stella & Chewy’s. In addition, Blue Buffalo just had a $32M settlement over their ingredients. Here are some tips to make sure this does not happen to your and your pet.

Check the ingredients

Healthy food boils down to the ingredients. If you give your pets food containing the wrong ingredients, you may jeopardize their health, leading to more expensive veterinarian bills later in their life.

As we already mentioned, Blue Buffalo had to recall and refund their customers after offering foods containing significant amounts of chicken by-product meal. Generally speaking, by-products can contain any part of the animal from slaughterhouses besides teeth and fur. This is the lowest quality of meat you can add to your pet’s food. However, while most customers know to stay away from by-products, the pet food is largely unregulated even honest companies can lie about their ingredients.

In addition, pet owners should look for the words rendered in their pet food. Rendered meals (e.g., chicken meal or salmon meal) are the result of a cooking process to turn parts of the animal into a powder. Due to this process the FDA allow pet food factories to use 4D animals (dead, diseased, dying, and disabled), and while some rendered meats might come from higher quality muscle meats, there is no way to be certain.

To stay away from by-products and rendered meals make sure you only buy dog food that lists the animal in the ingredients, and look at all of the ingredients to make sure something is not hidden at the bottom of the ingredients list. However, you can avoid all of this by only buying dog food that has fresh, natural, and healthy ingredients you can recognize.

Look for research-backed products

Luckily for consumers there are organizations such as AFFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) to help vet ingredients and ensure dogs food have all of the nutrients our pets need. Any pet food you buy should be formulated or tested to meet AAFCO guidelines. You can usually find this claim on their website or food label.

Check reviews

Finding out what other users say about certain pet food is paramount. Online users are typically candid, and they won’t hide the truth about any product they used in the past. While every product may have a few negative remarks, the number of positive reviews should overwhelm the negative ones to convince you that the product is excellent.

You can't gamble with your pet's life, and that’s why you need to exercise due diligence to give them food containing healthy and nutritious ingredients that will improve digestion and make them energetic.