Choosing the Best Premium Dog Food
PETCO sells a variety of premium nutrition foods for dogs. Premium nutrition food helps alleviate skin problems, reduces stool volume, lessens intestinal disorders, provides more energy and contributes to the long-term health of the pet. Premium nutrition foods are designed to meet dogs' nutritional needs at all stages of life.

Choosing the Best Premium Dog FoodPet Food Labels

Pet food labels contain a lot of information. When choosing a quality pet food, look for these items:

1. Manufacturer and Brand Name - The reputation of the manufacturer will help determine if the food is made according to quality standards. Quality pet foods are based on science, and each product is backed by research.

2. Nutritional Adequacy Statement - This tells you whether or not the product provides complete and balanced nutrition. It also indicates whether food is for a specific life stage or all life stages.

3. Guaranteed Analysis - Certain nutrient guarantees are required on the label of all pet foods. This section of the label provides minimum guarantees for protein and fat, and maximum guarantees for moisture and fiber.

4. Ingredient Listing - Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Ingredients provide nutrients such as fat, protein, vitamins and minerals.

5. Feeding Directions - Includes the amount of food recommended by size of animal, which should be a "rule of thumb" or a starting point.

When comparing basic nutrition store labels to premium nutrition food labels, refer to the nutrient profile. Be aware that the ingredients are listed in the order of their weight in the food, so the first ingredients listed may not be the primary ingredients. The first ingredient may be meat, but if the next several ingredients are cereal, it may not be a meat-based food. The total of all those ingredients may well surpass the meat content of the food, making it a cereal-based food. Also, be aware that different forms of the same ingredients can be listed separately. For example, each form of corn can be listed separately, such as corn meal, ground corn and corn gluten meal.

Which Food is the Best?

No food is the perfect diet for every pet. You should be able to find a premium nutrition food diet that meets your pet's needs. The best premium nutrition foods are designed to meet dogs' nutritional needs at all stages of life. Here are some important differences.

Premium Nutrition Food Basic Nutrition Food
  • Higher digestibility
  • No need for additional supplements
  • Smaller portions needed
  • Scientifically researched
  • Consistent ingredients
  • More palatable
  • Lower stool volume
  • Same or lower cost per serving
  • Lower quality ingredients make food less digestible
  • Not 100% nutritionally complete
  • Need to feed more because of less nutrients
  • Lower quality protein and fats
  • More sugars and artificial colors
  • Use of ingredients that are readily available and not consistent

PETCO carries dry food and wet food. Dry pet food provides the best nutrition for the value, and it costs about half as much as canned pet food. Wet pet food is very palatable to animals, but it is about 72% water and more expensive. Pets will also need to eat more wet pet food to get the same nutrition as in dry pet food.

Special Foods for Special Needs

The correct food is important for every stage in your dog's life. Most premium nutrition foods are designed for these stages.

Puppy Food

Puppy food is also known as "growth formula." Most puppies should be switched to an adult formula around 12 months of age. In general, larger puppies mature slower than small- to medium-size puppies. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations about when to switch to adult food. To avoid skeletal problems later, it is important that puppies, especially large puppies (adult weight over 55 pounds), grow at an average rate, not a maximum rate.

Size of Dog at Adulthood Directions PETCO Suggestions
Small to Medium Feed puppy food until 12 months of age.
(Examples: Chihuahuas, Lhasas, Cockers, Beagles)

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Large Feed puppy food until 12 months of age or older as needed.
(Examples: Shepherds, Labradors)

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Giant Feed puppy food or special food for large breeds until 12 months of age or more as needed.
(Examples: Mastiffs, Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes)

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Adult Food

This food is for the adult stage of a dog's life. Compared to puppy food, it should have reduced levels of protein, fat, phosphorous and salt because of lower requirements after growth.

Size of Dog Directions PETCO Suggestions
Small to Medium Put on an adult diet at approximately 12 months of age or older as needed.

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Large Put on an adult diet at approximately 12 months of age or older as needed.

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Giant Put on an adult diet until 12 months of age or older as needed.

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Senior Food

Many pet food companies make special foods for senior dogs, which usually have fewer calories and protein. Because your dog is not as active, cut down on the quantity you feed. An overweight dog suffers more stress on his joints, aggravating arthritis. The heart also has to work harder. Add carrots and other vegetables to his dinner if he's still hungry. Your vet can suggest supplements or medication for old age conditions like arthritis.

Size of Dog Directions PETCO Suggestions
Small to Medium Put on a senior diet at approximately 7 to 10 years of age.

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Large Put on a senior diet at approximately 7 to 9 years of age.

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Giant Put on a senior diet at approximately 5 to 7 years of age.

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Special Needs Formulas

PETCO carries premium nutrition food formulas for all of the following special needs. As always, we recommend consulting your veterinarian prior to introducing any of the special needs foods.

Special Need Description PETCO Suggestions
Overweight Animals Obesity is the most common nutritional disease in dogs and cats. Obesity is defined as weighing more than 15% above optimum body weight. Foods for overweight animals promote weight loss, have fewer calories and are higher in fiber. The pet may switch to an adult formula diet when the correct weight is reached. It is important to measure all foods to avoid feeding too much and negating the effect of these "light" formulas.

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Less Active Animals Recommended for animals that are not very active and need fewer calories and less energy.

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Active Adults High fat makes these foods a good choice for dogs that are very active, under stress or working.

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Small Breed Dogs/Small Bites The formulas contain small bite-size kibble ideal for smaller dogs or dogs that prefer a small bite size.

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Large Breed Dogs As puppies, large breeds need to be fed a diet that promotes the correct and proportional development of the bones and cartilage. As adults, large breeds need nutrition that supports skeletal and joint health. Proper nutrition ensures the long-term health of large breeds by developing extra strong bones and lean muscles, and maintaining healthy joints to support their heavier weight.

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Sensitive Skin These foods are good for pets with skin and coat problems, as they are formulated with extra fatty acids and lecithin.

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Sensitive Stomach These food formulas contain rice, a highly digestible, gentle ingredient for pets with sensitive stomachs. The unique blend of natural fibers helps nourish the gastro-intestinal tracts. It can also help the pet with excess gas, a rumbling stomach, occasional soft stools or vomiting.

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Allergy Formulas Allergy formulas are designed for dogs with intolerances to common food ingredients such as beef, poultry or lamb, which often result in dry, itchy and flaky skin. They are lactose-free and contain no color additives or preservatives.

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