Things to Consider When Selecting Food for Your Dog

Written by Lisa Baker for Sochi Dogs

It's hard to select a dog food these days. There are so many different choices in the pet food isle and so much buzz around different diets like grain-free, raw, and organic. Here are some things you should consider no matter the type of diet you select for your dog.

Quality Manufacturing

Pet food companies have a variety of considerations when making pet food such as whether to outsource operations, where to manufacture, where to get the ingredients and the proper process and controls. Ideally, they should have tight control over their manufacturing process and sourcing of ingredients to ensure your pet is getting the same quality food in each batch with no contamination. To evaluate different manufacturers check to see how many recalls they have had and what the recall was for. Not all recalls are bad, sometimes companies are trying to be proactive if they made a non-harmful error before too much is distributed. However, recalls due to major contamination like we saw with Evanger's and some of the JM Smucker's brands containing euthanasia drug are an indication of poor quality manufacturing or ingredient sourcing and should be avoided. It is also recommended to select a brand that manufactures in the USA with as many ingredients sourced from the USA as possible. 

AAFCO Feeding Statement

Any dog food you select for your dog should have an AAFCO feeding statement. This statement communicates that the food is complete and balanced. AAFCO has come up with several ways to determine if the food is complete and balanced and the statement must be substantiated by the state and pet food manufacturer. Along with the statement, it should tell you how the nutritional adequacy was determined. Feeding trials are preferred over other methods. If you have a puppy you will want to select a food labelled "all life stages". Adult dogs should eat foods labelled as "adult maintenance"


Just like in people, a balanced diet for dogs contains protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Look for the guaranteed analysis converted to a dry matter basis to be able to compare the amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates across brands. A brand with well-balanced macronutrients that adheres to the AAFCO feeding statement should suit your pup well. 

Ingredients and Packaging Can be Misleading

Ingredients and packaging labels may not always be what they appear. For example, many dog foods are labelled as "natural" or "premium" however, these words are not defined or regulated when it comes to pet food. On the other hand, "organic" has the same definition as in human food. Ingredients on the package are listed in order of weight; ingredients that are moisture rich may appear at the top of the list, like chicken or beef. Chicken or beef meal are dehydrated forms of the meat and may contain more protein than the fresh meat. By-products contain healthy organ meats like liver and lungs. It does not mean that hooves, hair, or other inedible waste products are included. Grains are a good source of carbohydrates and are easily digested by dogs. They do not need to be avoided so long as your dog does not have an allergy to them. Foods that are grain free can be higher in protein or fat. If you need to feed a grain-free diet try to find one that includes other healthy sources of carbohydrates and has balanced macronutrients.

Other Considerations

You want your dog to enjoy eating and have healthy regular stool. Choose a food that works best for your dog and that your dog enjoys eating. If your dog has an allergy or a sensitive stomach you may want to try to identify what's bothering them so you can avoid it. Dry or wet food can provide a complete and well-balanced diet for your dog. Evidence has suggested that dogs that eat only a wet diet may have worse dental hygiene as compared with those that ate dry food, however, this point has been debated. Dry food can be good to use while training your dog. You can use the kibble from a meal to exercise their skills instead of handing out lots of treats. Wet food can easily be put into Kongs or frozen which can also help with training or boredom. 


Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's diet in calories. You can select store-bought treats with similar considerations to how you select a dog food or you can consider feeding your dog healthy fresh foods as snacks. Dogs can eat a variety of healthy, low-calorie fruits and veggies as a treat. Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. All other veggies should be cooked before feeding and leave off the salt and butter. Veggies can be steamed and fed plain once cool. Fruits like strawberries and watermelon can also be fed as treats. Always check to make sure the food you want to give your dog is safe for consumption, things like grapes and raisins should never be fed to a dog.

Still confused about what to feed your dog? Speak with a veterinary nutritionist about your options. Always listen to the advice of your vet when it comes to nutrition for a dog with a disease or illness. Remember that above all else, keeping your dog at a healthy weight, not overweight or underweight, is the best thing you can do for your dog when it comes to nutrition and health. 


We Have a World Cup Visitor! 

A couple weeks ago were lucky to have Darren who was in Sochi for the World Cup visit our shelter and spend some time with the dogs. After his trip he wanted to share his experience with everyone on the blog. Read it below. 


As a football tragic, I selfishly spend a lot of money going to World Cups every 4 years. At the Brasil World Cup 2014, I decided to “off set” some of that selfishness by volunteering and donating to a local dog shelter. A simple google search “dog shelter Brazil” got me in contact with “Dogs in Brazil” a local charity near Rio. I did the same google search in June this year when I was in Russia and I found Sochi dog rescue.

Vlada, the founder, was amazing. Her passion for the dogs is palpable and only matched by the lovely Masha and her Mom, Lena, who basically live 24/7 for the 50 dogs at the rescue. I was particularly impressed with the setup and the dogs looked very happy there. The setting of the shelter is amazing! If only the dogs could appreciate the sea view! I strongly recommend anyone to visit Sochi dogs, it was a highlight of my trip.

Caper's story

On the night of 25 June, I was in a long queue to enter the FIFA fan fest in Sochi to watch a football match. At the corner of my eye, I saw a small black dog that appeared to be limping. He was about 100 meters away. My gut told me to investigate further to see if it needed help. But I was in a queue with friends and decided against my gut instinct. Through the match, my mind was not on the football, but this dog that I failed. I was not happy.

A few hours later I and my friends sat at a restaurant nearby. As fate would have it, I saw the same black dog again on the road. This time I followed my gut. I told my mates to cancel my food order and I went to investigate.

As I got close to the dog, he came happily to me, wagging his tail. He was clearly a pup, 3-4 months old and had only 3 legs. He wouldn’t survive long in the streets. So I called Vladka and she immediately came to pick him up. I named him “Caper”.  I visited Caper a few days later and spent some short but precious moments playing with him. He is a gorgeous boy. If Australia accepted dogs from Russia, I’d take him. But they don't. I hope he finds a forever home. His adopter will be one lucky person/family.


Polina's Independence Day

Today we’re celebrating Independence Day and a very special dog who got her freedom! Polina has been tied up to a chain with nothing but a small broken down dog house to give her shelter. 

Once we learned about Polina we made multiple attempts to get owners to give her up to the shelter. We even offered to buy her out but all of our offers had been refused. In Russia where dogs are considered personal property, there was nothing we could do to help Polina but we continued trying. Last week, her owners finally broke down and gave her up because they said she was too old. We couldn’t be happier to welcome this sweet girl to the shelter as one of our permanent residents. 

Polina is the friendliest most loving dog and now she will finally have the freedom to run around, roll in the grass, play and eat as much as she wants. 

Please consider sponsoring Polina’s stay at the shelter. As little as $1 a day helps us provide Polina with food, veterinary care, treats to make her new found freedom just little sweeter!  

A Warm Welcome to Palma and Stella

This weekend we welcomed Palma and Stella to the shelter and we still can't believe how this mother daughter duo survived on the train tracks.

Palma and Stella had been living near a small freight train service station. Earlier this week word got out that if they were not out on Sunday they'd be kicked out or worse, extermination service world be sent for them. 

We couldn't watch that happen to these two sweet girls so we jumped into action and they arrived at the shelter on Sunday to start their new lives with Sochi Dogs. 

Buck welcomed them into his pen, they got a big meal, and soon you'll find them on our adoptable dogs page. 

Welcoming Palma and Stella has put the shelter at capacity. We simply can't take in any more dogs and there are so many that need our help. Please consider adopting or fostering to help us make room. Summer is the perfect time to add a new dog to your family and by doing so you'll be saving athe life of dog that's still on the streets. 

Fill out an adoption application today!