Originally published on ArlNow.com 

The dog food market has exploded. There is almost an endless variety of dry dog food options, making it more difficult to determine what the best option is for your dog. Here are some tips to help you make an educated decision.

Bottom line, do what works – If your dog is healthy and fit on whatever food you are feeding him or her, there is probably no need to make a change. A couple of ways to determine if things are going well is to evaluate the results: you need to check the poop. If you dog is pooping more than twice a day, or if your dog is not producing solid formed stool, you may need to reevaluate what you are feeding.

Read the Label – Make sure you recognize the ingredients in the food. The first ingredient should be a whole meat product such as “chicken” or “beef.” Not chicken by-products or chicken meals. If you aren’t sure what a by-product or a meal is, don’t feed it. Look for other whole products like “rice” or “carrots” as well. You want as many whole ingredients as possible.

Choose higher quality, ignore the packaging – Do not be fooled by the packaging. Just because there are fruits and vegetables on the bag, doesn’t mean they’re in the food. Those fancy multicolored kibbles are colored with food dye, not natural ingredients. Pay attention to what is in the food, not what food is on the bag.

Don‘t always follow directions – When determining how much to feed your dog, simply look at your dog. It makes no sense to feed a dog by volume. For example, feeding it two cups, two times per day. Not all 50-pound dogs should be eating the same amount of food each day. Age, energy level, fitness level and body type are all much more important than weight.

Also, keep in mind that the faster you finish a bag of dog food, the faster you go out and buy a new bag. The dog food company has an incentive to encourage you to overfeed. If your dog is fat, feed less. If your dog is skinny, feed more. Adjust as necessary.

There is no doubt that good nutrition leads to healthier lives, so try and choose the best possible option for your pup.