As pet parents examine their dog food options, there are several different claims that come up on both the packaging and marketing materials. One common phrase used in the dog food space is “veterinarian recommended.” While veterinarians often attest to the health and nutritional value of certain foods, some pet parents may not be aware of what factors influence their decision to recommend certain options over others. To help pet parents who want to further evaluate their pet’s diet, Freshpet includes a few factors that tend to influence whether an option is considered a veterinarian recommended dog food.

The Nutrient Content

There are many reasons that the specific ingredients included in pet food have been under a microscope in the past few years. Pet parents, veterinarians, and professionals that handle animals regularly recognize that the quality and source of ingredients matter when we consider the overall health of a pet food option. Still, part of the bigger picture for whether an option is a veterinarian recommended dog food tends to be the nutritional content of the meal as well. Vets will recommend foods that contain a desirable ratio of water, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Dogs need these nutrients to stay happy and healthy and, while the amount of each mineral recommended may differ from pet to pet, a common thread will be that they are present in adequate amounts. Vets often encourage pet parents to read the labels on veterinarian recommended puppy food and dog food options. You will likely notice high-quality ingredients and sources of nutrients.

Lack of Artificial Ingredients or Harmful Fillers

Artificial ingredients such as certain added flavors, colors, and preservatives are not necessary for pets and are not likely to be ingredients in a veterinarian recommended dog food. These ingredients may contain harmful chemicals that offer no nutritional value at best, or can contribute to health issues at worst. That also goes for fillers such as non-desirable animal parts and other additions that do not add any nutritional content to your dog’s meal.  Surveys show that the pet community has noticed the correlation between a pet’s health and well-being and being fed foods that have no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in recent years. This mean vet recommendations and advances in the pet food space are already influencing how we as pet parents make our choices. Options that are transparent regarding their ingredients, choose natural components, and only include additions that fortify that foods nutritional value are much more likely to be veterinarian recommended over others.

Breed, Size, Age, and Activity Level Matter

Experts often say that what works best for one dog may not work best for another, as there are several factors that make a food recommended by a vet. Breed, size, and activity level play a huge role in the nutritional needs of a dog and subsequent vet recommendations. For example, large dogs have different caloric needs than small dogs. Puppies of large breed dogs need a diet tailored to large breed puppies to grow and develop at a safe rate. Because rapid growth can add to bone health problems that can be common in larger breeds, a veterinarian recommended puppy food must address these specific needs. Small dogs differ from large dogs in that they cannot consume as much food as their larger counterparts. This means that their food addresses this point, and a veterinarian recommended dog food for a smaller furry friend will often be higher in fats and proteins as well as more nutrient dense to ensure their health.

Additional Health Needs

Similar to how dogs differ in terms of their breed, size, and activity level, they also are unique in terms of what health issues they may develop over time. We like to think that our dogs will always be in tip-top shape, but even healthy dogs may eventually need additional care as they get older. For this reason, a veterinarian recommended puppy food or dog food will often be an option that addresses these additional needs to avoid adding to complications they may have. There are multiple health needs that may affect whether a food is veterinarian recommended including potential urinary issues, digestive track problems, dental health, or different metabolic needs. Certain diets are better at staving off potential issues than others, and pet parents should ensure that their pet’s diet reflects these recommendations-, which can become particularly important as a dogs age.