How to Find the Right Pet Food Store

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I am very dedicated to my dogs, Scout and Zoe. I try to do right by them and get them the best of care for their allergies, regular vet visits and any injuries that occur. I also am extremely diligent with regard to their diets. Since both dogs have allergies, I am vigilant about reading labels and spending inordinate amounts of time with research on the most up-to-date advances in pet nutrition. I want them to live long, healthy lives.

So today, I went to Paws Stop, my pet food store of choice for my kibble run for both dogs. After I had purchased three of the four bags I needed, I spent the next hour talking to Dave, the owner of the store, about their conditions.

Zoe, my German Shepherd, bless her heart, is allergic to beef. So no bones, no rawhides, no flavored treats; not even beef flavored heartworm meds. She eats two kinds of kibble that are both high quality and keep her coat smooth and silky. No complaints with her food other than the fact that I am the only one who can figure out what and how to feed her daily meals.

Scout, my sweet little GSP boy, is allergic to chicken and requires a high performance diet with a lot of calories. To just maintain his weight, dog foodhe must eat about 3500 calories a day. Doesn’t sound difficult right? Well, until you read the nutritional panels. Most performance kibble is loaded with….wait for it…..chicken fat. Bad news for Scout.

So he is on a blend of high quality food without chicken and a prescription food from the vet….which I have a problem with. After speaking with Dave, I now understand more about this prescription food. It is very low fat and low protein but the carbs….they are out of sight. The first ingredient in the food? Potatoes. The third ingredient? More potatoes. High glycemic index too.

Even though I knew it wasn’t great food, now I completely understand why it isn’t. If I fed Scout this food without the addition of the high end food, he couldn’t maintain his weight. It is the wrong kind of calories.

This is a daunting task to figure out what is not only appropriate for your dog but also figure out on which food your dog will thrive. Wanting both of my pups to have long and extremely healthy lives, I am willing to invest the time to do a lot of research.

Here are some key points to look for when you are searching for a pet food partner.

  • Visit your local, trusted pet food store. Don’t have one? Find one. They are like gold for you and your pet. The folks who work there are passionate about pets and nutrition.

Look for one that stocks a variety of food…modestly priced brands up to the really pricey ones. But remember, just because a food costs a lot doesn’t mean it is right for your canine pal. Variety and lots of choices are key here. Invest the time to learn which is right for your dog.

  • When you visit the store, consider the knowledge level of the staff. Do they just point to where the food is located or do they walk over with you and begin asking about your pup’s lifestyle, the nutritional requirements and special diet restrictions of your pup?

A great sign for me, even though I have shopped at this store for a while now, was noticing a binder with back copies of The Whole Dog Journal at the register. If you don’t know about The Whole Dog Journal, you should. It is a great resource not only for food, but all things dog.

  • Does the store offer a money back guarantee if the food doesn’t work, the dog won’t eat it or gets sick? Great stores do. They will help you find one that will benefit your pup.
  •  Kibble, canned, raw, frozen, grain free, dehydrated or freeze dried? Natural or holistic? Know the difference nutritionally? The store staff educated in canine nutrition does. They can help you know the difference too.
  • Does your dog require dietary supplements? Once again, a great pet food store will know the ins and outs of these supplements and the staff is happy to spend time with you to sort it out for your pup’s needs.

Bottom line? Find someone you trust to assist you with all things diet related for your BFF, best furry friend. That way, you and your fur pal can both enjoy a long, healthy life together.

Cindy Dunston Quirk is the Chief Dog Lover at Scout & Zoe’s Natural Antler Dog Chews. Scout & Zoe’s chews are allergy-free and a green, organic, renewable resource created only from 100% naturally shed elk antlers.

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