What Is The Best Dog Food?
One of the questions dog owners most frequently ask is “What is the best dog food?” That’s also one of the hardest questions to answer for several different reasons.
Even good dog foods are always changing
Even if you have been feeding a very good dog food for several years, chances are that the food is different from when you first started feeding it to your dog. That’s because dog food manufacturers are always making changes to their recipes. They do this to improve the nutrition as more research is done and to improve their bottom line. Both of these things are important to most companies. In some cases you and your dog won’t notice a difference. For example, if a company changes from using whole chicken to chicken meal, it’s not usually a big change for your dog. But some changes can be more noticeable. There can be changes, up or down, in the protein percentage. The percentage of protein usually changes downward since protein is often the most expensive ingredient in dog food. Changes in the kind of carbs used in a food can make a difference to your dog, especially if he has any allergies or food sensitivities.
Even respected and expensive foods such as Orijen have changed their ingredients recently. The new Whole Prey diets have omitted potatoes and added lentils and chickpeas instead. While the food still boasts 50 percent “fresh meat,” more of the protein in the food comes from meals like chicken meal and turkey meal and from plant-based proteins now. The guaranteed analysis of the food remains similar to what it was in the past, but the ingredient changes likely save Champion Pets, the makers of Orijen, some money.
The addition of cellulose and cellulase in some dog foods can be problematic. Cellulose in pet foods usually comes from wood products and it’s used as a filler ingredient to add bulk without adding calories. It’s often used in weight control dog foods. Cellulase is added to help break down the cellulose. Unfortunately, many dogs have trouble digesting these ingredients and can experience gastrointestinal upset if they are in the dog food. And they can be in some expensive dog foods. When Canidae added cellulase to their foods a few years ago, there was an outcry from customers suddenly coping with dogs having problems with the food. The same is true of some other ingredients that dog food companies experiment with. Research tells them that the ingredients will work in dog food and save money but, in practice, they don’t agree with many dogs.
Dog food companies do not make these changes to foods to harm your dog or upset his stomach. If you are a good dog food company, you want to make nutritious food with good ingredients while keeping your costs down. As a dog owner, you should keep an eye on your dog’s condition to note any changes, even if you are feeding the same food all the time. Check the label for any changes to the ingredients. And keep reading about dog foods to see if there are changes in ingredients. If your dog’s coat starts looking different or you notice changes to his stool, the first place to look is your dog food bag to see if there have been changes to the ingredients.
You should be aware that whenever a dog food company makes a change to their food, they are going to tell you that it’s a wonderful thing. Many of them have public relations people who put out this kind of information as part of their job online, on Facebook, and other places. That doesn’t mean it’s true. Always trust your dog and what he is telling you about the food.
Every dog is different
Another reason it’s difficult to say which dog food is best is because every dog is different. You would not feed the same food to a six-month-old puppy that you would feed to a mature dog. You probably wouldn’t feed a Chihuahua the same food you would feed a Great Dane puppy. An active hunting dog has different nutritional requirements from a lapdog.
Some brands of dog food make very good foods for dogs that have different nutritional needs – dogs of different sizes, ages, and activity levels. However, there are a number of brands that make good foods. We also have to consider that there are dogs with specific allergies, food sensitivities, and serious health issues who have their own needs. When it comes to dog foods it’s really not a case of one size fits all. There is no one best dog food for every dog.
Dog owners are different, too
Dog owners also have different attitudes about feeding their dogs – and different budgets. Some owners prefer a grain free diet for their dogs, even if their dogs do not have any allergies to grains. Some owners like a diet for their dogs that emphasizes meat for carnivores. Other owners are more comfortable with a diet that includes grains. Some owners have ethical concerns about how food is raised and they want meat that has been humanely-raised and vegetables that are organic.
All of these choices come with economic ramifications for dog owners. Dog food can be very cheap or extremely expensive. Most dog food is somewhere in the middle. Many dog owners are looking for the best possible quality in dog food for a good price. A lot of dog owners spend more than they can really afford to buy their dogs a good quality dog food because they care so much about their dog’s health and well-being.
We think it’s important to tell you the truth about dog foods so you don’t feel like you have to follow the latest trend. There are many good dog foods for people of different budgets. You don’t necessarily have to buy the most expensive dog food for your dog to be healthy. Many expensive dog foods are very good. That’s true. Some are over-rated. There are also some medium-priced dog foods that are very good. Cheap dog foods usually have cheap ingredients and other ingredients that we don’t recommend you feed your dog such as artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT), dyes/artificial colors, and artificial sweeteners.
The Best Dog Foods
With all of that said, there are still some dog foods that stand out.
- The Honest Kitchen
- I and Love and You Dog Food
- Natural Balance
Five-star foods are those that primarily use whole meats or meals such as chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, or other named meats. They may have some organic ingredients. They are generally high in protein and low in carbs. Many of them have grain free foods in their product line. They do not use artificial preservatives, dyes, or sweeteners. They have high standards and pass required certifications. The companies have a good reputation and recalls have not been a problem. Most of these foods are produced by smaller dog food companies and they are more expensive.
Four-star foods may draw protests from some dog food purists because some of them use by-products and grains in some of their products. Instead of being produced by small, independent companies, they are mostly produced by large dog food manufacturers. However, they are widely available and popular with large segments of dog owners. They typically cost less than the five-star foods but they still offer good nutrition and many dogs have lived long lives eating these products. The companies that make some of these foods are at the forefront of nutritional research for dogs. We do not recommend all foods made by these companies but their top-of-the-line products are typically very good. For example, if you have a dog with a specific health problem, the prescription diets from Hills’ Science Diet are excellent. Purina ProPlan is absolutely used by a large number of people who breed and show the dogs you see exhibited at Westminster each year. That is not just an advertising gimmick. It’s true. Taste of the Wild, made by Diamond, is somehow a very good food.
You can read more extensive reviews of most of these foods on the DogFood.guru web site.
Choosing the best dog food for your dog food
If you are trying to choose the best dog food for your dog you should consider several factors.
- How old is your dog?
- Does he have any special health issues or allergies?
- What is his activity level?
Dog foods are divided into three main life stages: growth for puppies and nursing dogs; maintenance, and all life stages. Every dog food is required to have a statement saying which life stage it meets. If you are looking for a food for a puppy, you should choose a food that is made for growth or all life stages. That means the food has proven that it can meet those nutritional requirements.
If you have an adult dog (over a year old), you can choose a food for maintenance or all life stages.
If your dog has any special health problems or allergies, you will need to look for a food that meets those needs. Read the label carefully, especially the ingredients. It’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian to see if she recommends a particular food.
You should also consider your dog’s activity level when you choose a food. Many people don’t realize that dog foods have different calories, just like foods for people. More active dogs need more calories than dogs that sleep all day. Some dog foods put the calories per cup on the label but in other cases you can find this information by visiting the company’s web site. The feeding guidelines on the bag are based on recommendations for feeding dogs based on their weight and size. You can follow these guidelines when you start feeding a food but you may have to adjust it if your dog starts gaining or losing weight after eating the food. One food can have more calories than another, so if you feed two cups of one brand it doesn’t mean that your dog will need the same amount of a different brand.
The best advice for choosing a food is to read, look at the ingredients, and see how your dog likes the food. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error but you will find a good food for your dog