What to Look for When Buying Dog Food

Walking down the dog food aisle at a supermarket or pet store can be pretty intimidating!

There are so many dog food brands to choose from…including those well-known commercial brands that say their dog food is “the best.”

It’s easy to get “decision fatigue” about which brand of dog food to buy if you don’t know how to differentiate between what’s healthy and what’s not healthy for your dog to consume.

dog food
Credit: Playbuzz

So, how can you know which brand of dog food is right for your dog?

We know that every bite of food your Shih Tzu or small dog takes can be beneficial or detrimental to their health – so make sure you look at all the facts, do your research, and read the labels when deciding what to buy for your dog’s food.

Below are some key things to look for when buying dog food that will help guide you into making the best possible decision for your furry friend(s):


Dogs need a protein-rich diet to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When searching for the right food for your dog – you’ll want to look at the list of ingredients that are usually located on the back of the bag.

If the first ingredient is not real meat (i.e. poultry, fish, eggs, etc.), then move on. Although plants and animals can have a source of protein, a dog’s digestive system is made to ingest animal-based ingredients.

A dog’s ability to process plant products is very limited – so to be safe, it is always better to go with an animal product versus an animal by-product. This isn’t to say that the plant proteins are bad for your dog, but they should not be the alternative to increase the amount of protein your dog is consuming.

The best way to make sure you are not giving your dog an animal by-product is by reading the label. If the label reads “meat” instead of a specific type of meat – that “meat” is most likely an animal by-product.

Tip: make sure you avoid the four D’s of meat (meat from dead, dying, diseased or destroyed animals).


Small dogs are playful creatures, which means they require a certain diet.

Even though protein should be the first ingredient you look at when deciding what type of food to buy, fat is also an essential part of their diet as well.

Fat is the most highly concentrated source of energy that dogs consume, and the high levels of fat help to maintain their bodily processes – especially in small dogs.

Shih Tzus and other small dog breeds have a very high metabolism because the fat from their food gives their metabolism the energy it needs to work properly. Just like in humans, too much of something can be a bad thing for dogs – including the fat in their food.

Make sure you find the correct balance of fat for your dog’s diet. If you go overboard on the fat intake for your dog, it can result in unhealthy weight gain that can lead to even more health problems in the future.

The ideal amount of fat your dog should ingest is: 1g of fat for every 2g of protein your dog consumes.

Tip: make sure you avoid generic animal fats, just like you would avoid protein animal by-products. Instead – look for better animal fat alternatives, such as healthier oils.


Just like in a human diet – a dog’s diet should not contain too many carbs that can potentially disrupt their stomach’s ability to digest the food properly.

To ensure proper digestion, the carbohydrates you should be looking for are fibrous ones (i.e. whole grains and vegetables).

As stated before, your dog has a limited ability to digest plant-based food sources – which is why digestible carb sources such as whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans, etc. are the best options.

Tip: make sure not to exceed a diet containing more than 5% of crude fiber and be wary of the amount of carbs you supply your dog with because too many carbs can lead to your dog becoming overweight and other health problems.

Things to Avoid Feeding Your Dog

For your furry friend’s health and safety, make sure you avoid the following:

  • By-products
  • Fillers (corn bran, hulls, dried grains, etc.)
  • Generic Meats (the four Ds)
  • Artificial Additives (chemical preservatives, coloring, flavoring, etc.)
  • Preservatives ethoxyquin, BHT or BHA
  • GMOs
  • Hormones
  • Antibiotics (this is different from the antibiotics a vet may prescribe)
  • Food that does NOT contain the AAFCO Seal of Approval (Association of American Feed Control Officials)
  • Fruit pits and seeds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • High Sodium Chloride
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Onions
  • Chocolate
  • Raisins/Grapes
  • Corn, Soy or Wheat Gluten
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener)

This list helps to ensure that your dog is getting the best possible nutrition.

The AAFCO is responsible for making sure that the foods you supply your furry friend with contains all the proper ingredients – but this does NOT mean that you shouldn’t look at the ingredients yourself as well.

Tip: Make sure NOT to buy ANY food for your dog that contains ANY of the ingredients in the list above to protect the health and safety of your dog.

Wet vs. Dry Dog Food Options

dog food

When looking at the wet vs. dry dog food options – it’s important to study and learn what your dog prefers to eat.

The better choice for your dog is dry food because dry food can be beneficial for your dog’s teeth.

However, if your dog prefers wet food – you will not want to switch their food up too quickly because that can be bad for your pet’s digestive system.

To find the perfect balance of wet and dry food, you can try putting either of these menu options in your dog’s bowl:

  • Half wet dog food and half dry dog food
  • Dry dog food mixed with some chicken broth, to water it down

Then see which menu option your dog prefers eating more and more of – and viola – you found the perfect balance!

Tip: The more watered down your dog’s food is, the less beneficial the food will be for your dog’s teeth. This isn’t to say that wet food is detrimental to your dog’s teeth, only that there is a positive to giving your dog dry food to eat.

Best Source of Water for Your Dog: Tyent Alkaline Water

alkaline water

Just like you know to feed your dog only at specific times of the day – make sure that your dog has access to a constant supply of clean water (preferably alkaline water) throughout the day in a clean bowl.

The best source of clean water for your dog is alkaline water that is rich in molecular hydrogen (H2) and antioxidants from a Tyent water ionizer.

Hydrogen water is rich in antioxidants and essential minerals that your dog needs to eliminate toxins and free radicals from their body – such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Your dog needs to get these essential minerals and nutrients from their diet because the magnesium helps build stronger bones in their body that contain about 99% of calcium, while the potassium will help give your dog energy.

Dogs also have a faster metabolism than their human companions, so by drinking hydrogen water – they can get alkaline water benefits more quickly because the small size of the molecular hydrogen in the water makes it easier for your dog’s cells to absorb directly.

Tip: Don’t give your furry friend alkaline water with their meals. Give them purified water during meals because your dog’s stomach relies on acidic juices to break down the food in their body. You can learn more about other rules and uses of giving your dog alkaline water here.

 Healthy Dog, Happy Life!

water ionizer

You know your dog the best. You know what they like and what they dislike.

By ensuring that your Shih Tzu or small dog sticks to a proper diet of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, they will be able to enjoy a healthy and happy life that’s full of love and adventure.

It is important to remember to read the label on the bag or can of dog food to help you determine if the food you are choosing for your dog to eat contains the proper nutrients in the correct ratios.

The easiest thing to look out for is the size of the food itself. Since Shih Tzus and toy dog breeds are smaller, they have smaller mouths.

Buying food that is the right size for your dog’s mouth is an essential part of getting them to eat the food. If the food is too large, it can be difficult for your dog to bite into.

Always think of what is in the best interest of your furry sidekick, and you can do no wrong!

If you would like to start giving your dog the benefits of alkaline water from a Tyent water ionizer machine, then this FREE cheat sheet will help you learn what you need to know about the healing power of an ionizer for you and your dog.

You can also give the friendly water specialists over at Tyent a call at and they will take the time to teach you more about their premium ionizers so that you can rest easy knowing that your dog is drinking the healthiest and best alkaline water on the planet from Tyent’s award-winning water ionizers.


This guest post on dog food was written by Adam Conrad. Adam Conrad is a passionate writer and a dad of 5 Shih Tzu pups. He loves to write about dog grooming, best food for dogs and CDV (Canine Distemper Virus). His guides are aimed at pet parents to help them look after their pups. He writes for the blog The Shih Tzu Expert.

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