a review of the top dog food brands

A Review of the Top Dog Food Brands

Before delving into the topic, it’s important that we first deal with the following question. It’s among the most common questions pet parents ask in relation to dog food.

Does it really matter what I feed my pup?

The simple answer is yes! What you feed your pooch matters.

High-quality well-balanced dog food will definitely keep your furry friends healthy and fit. It will keep their coat looking shiny and sleek and their immune system will be much stronger as a result.  Good dog food also helps pups to have a healthier digestive system.

In this article published by the HuffPost, Kristina Johansen, a certified expert in advanced canine nutrition, explains in depth why what you feed your dog matters.

Even though the ideal food for most dogs is the type that has moderate fat, low carbohydrates, and a high amount of proteins, it would be best if you consult with your vet to find what dog food is appropriate for your pup.

Now, with thousands of dog food varieties to choose from, we are determined to make your search for the best dog food brand and type less overwhelming.

Check out the rest of our guide.

Top Dog Food Brands

To identify the top dog food brands, we went about analyzing customer reviews, gathering recommendations from dog enthusiast and vets, trying out the products, as well as visiting the product’s official website to learn more.

At the end of it all, we narrowed down our selection to these five as the best dog food brands to look out for.

1. Taste of the Wild

Taste of the wild is made by Diamond Pet Food, a family-operated company based at Meta, Missouri.

Recalls

In 2012, Diamond, the parent company, voluntary recalled one of their pet foods as a result of contamination from bacteria. However, it’s important to note that Taste of the Wild is a brand and looking at this list by FDA, there are no recalls for the brand’s foods.

Ingredients and Product Ranges

One of the things that distinguish Taste of the wild from other dog food brands is that their line of product includes only nine dry foods and five varieties of canned dog food.  They also manufacture dry and canned cat food.

taste of the wild

As the brand’s name suggests, their products are inspired by the fact that the native diet of most animals was initially only found in the wild.  That explains why their product’s recipe is formulated with among other things:

  • Real vegetables, legumes, and fruits
  • Unique protein sources (salmon, real venison, wild boar, lamp, etc.)
  • Premium ingredients like chelated Minerals, prebiotic fiber, and taurine.
  • Guaranteed probiotics

As the brand’s name suggests, their products are inspired by the fact that the native diet of most animals was initially only found in the wild.  That explains why their product’s recipe is formulated with among other things:

  • Real vegetables, legumes, and fruits
  • Unique protein sources (salmon, real venison, wild boar, lamp, etc.)
  • Premium ingredients like chelated Minerals, prebiotic fiber, and taurine.
  • Guaranteed probiotics

On their website, the brand says that all their foods are made with non-GMO ingredients, have no artificial preservatives, colors or preservatives, and are grain-free, which makes them a perfect option for those trying to cut down on potential allergens and fillers.

In their review of the Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon, DogFoodAdvisor found the distribution of nutritional content in the food as follows (dry matter basis): carbohydrates– 43%, protein – 32%, and fats – 17%. Obviously, the distribution of nutritional content is perfect and so, they highly recommended the product and rated it 4.5 stars.

Target Dogs

Dog foods from this brand are well suited to:

  • Puppies
  • Adolescents
  • Active and healthy adult dogs
  • Dogs with allergies
  • Small and large breeds
  • Picky Eaters
  • Working and athletic dogs
  • Pregnant or lactating

So, if you have overweight or senior dogs, dog food from this brand may not be suitable for them.

Reviews

On Amazon, one of the brand’s famous product,  Taste Wild Prairie Formula 30-Pound, has garnered over 11,000 positive reviews.  

Taste of the Wild products have moderate prices and that is amongst the reasons DogFoodGuru also rated them highly.

2. Nature’s Variety

Natures variety

Nature’s Variety is a privately-held pet food company based in Lincoln, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri.

Recalls

In 2007 (controversial), 2010, 2012, and 2013, Nature’s Variety had recalls. The reason for the recalls was different for each instance.

To avoid similar occurrences, the company refined their quality control process and the fact that no other recall has been witnessed to date means the changes worked.

Ingredients and Product Ranges

Nature Variety specializes in dog and cat food. They make two major brands of pet food:

  • Instinct raw-Includes raw frozen pet food, dry foods, canned foods, kibble, limited ingredients diets, freeze-dried formulas, high-protein recipes.
  • Prairie- Includes wet and dry food recipes for holistic pet food. They are made with natural ingredients such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fresh meat

Unlike other dog food brands, this company sets itself apart by offering a huge variety of products in multiple forms. While most dog food brands only offer their foods in dry, wet, and canned form, Nature variety has taken things a notch higher by including frozen raw diets and other forms on their list of products.

All foods by Nature Variety are completely free of wheat, soy, corn, artificial flavors, and colors. Also, the meats they use in their foods are free of hormones, antibiotics, and are completely free-range.  

What’s more, each of their recipes features a premium-quality protein and all are formulated to provide optimal nutrition.

The company also makes several varieties that are gluten- and-grain-free with limited ingredients.

Nature variety says that they utilize AAFCO Feeding trials in formulating their foods and adds that their dog foods, like the Instinct Rae Chicken Formula, offer a completed and balanced nutrition for all life stages.  

The company makes dry kibbles, treats, wet dog food cups, canned food, and also a combination of kibble, raw and freeze-dried. Raw foods comprise of 95% meat, raw ground bones, and bones plus 5% vegetables and fruits and are made at the company-owned facility

It’s important that you read the descriptions and the feeding instructions as some of the foods come as mixes rather than complete diets.

Target Dogs

Nature’s Variety products are well suited for:

  • Puppies
  • Adult dogs
  • Seniors
  • Large breed puppies
  • Pregnant/lactating dog
  • Dogs with allergies.

The price of Nature Variety’s dog foods varies based on the recipe you chose.

Reviews

On Amazon, the majority of Nature Variety Dog Foods boasts of multiple positive reviews and high ratings.

In their reviews, DogFoodAdvisor awarded both Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diets and Variety Instinct Original (Dry) 5-star ratings, partly because of their quality recipes, rich ingredients, and well-balanced nutritional content.

3. Merrick

Merrick Pet Care Inc. has been dealing in dog food since 1988 as a privately-owned company. However, in 2015, Merrick was bought out by Nestle-Purina.

Recalls

In 2010 and 2011, the company faced several recalls. All of them happened due to potential contamination with salmonella, a bacteria.

Merrick Dog Food

Ingredients and Product Ranges

Merrick creates dry and wet dog and cat food, in addition to dog treats. The four popular formulas made by the brand include:

  • Backcountry
  • Grain free
  • Limited ingredient diet
  • Classic

On their official website, Merrick states that they utilize high-quality ingredients sourced straight from ranchers and farmers. Also, all of their recipes are generated in the company’s test kitchen and plants based in Hereford, Texas.

To make their foods 100% healthy, the company doesn’t add any preservatives, artificial flavor, or color to their foods. Everything, including the meat, is purely fresh and real. No by-products are included as well.

In place of lackluster fillers, the company utilizes sweet potatoes, which function as a carbohydrate source.

In each of their recipes, the top ingredients are always fresh produce or deboned meat, both of which are USDA-inspected. What actually makes their foods unique is that their recipes boast very few ingredients and feature healthy additives such as fish oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil and in some instance, fruits.

In their review of the Merrick Grain Free Real Duck and Sweet Potato, DogFoodAdvisor gives the product a 5-star rating and puts the estimated dry matter nutrient content as follows: protein – 38%, carbs – 39%, fats – 25%. Each value is close to the required averages for dry dog food.

Generally, Merrick products have earned their reputation based on variety, quality, and consistency.

Target Dogs

Merrick food is suitable for:

  • Healthy adult dogs
  • Dogs with allergies
  • Puppies
  • Athletic or working dogs
  • Picky Eaters
  • Overweight dogs
  • Small breeds

However, when it comes to senior dogs, large breed puppies, and pregnant/lactating dogs, there are no Merrick products that suit them.

Even though the company provides premium dog food, their products are relatively affordable in comparison to other high-end brands. And with a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their products, you don’t have to worry about the possibility that the company’s dog food might not live up to their promise.

Reviews

Over at Amazon, current users and previous buyers continue to give products like Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato massive positive reviews and ratings.

Also, DogFoodAdvisor rates Merrick’s products highly because of the fact they contain quality ingredients and come completely free from preservatives and artificial colors and flavors.

4. Wellness

Wellness

Wellness dog food is created by WellPet LLC, a pet food company headquartered near Boston, Massachusetts. It’s among the several pet food brands owned by the company.

Recalls

Wellness’s latest recall was in 2017 in which the company recalled several canned dog food varieties after their in-house team of experts found that the foods had a potentially unhealthy material.  Previous recalls took place in 2011 and 2012

Ingredients and Product Ranges

On their website, the company says that wellness recipes are provided by veterinarians, nutritionists, and animal lovers. The recipes include whole grains, lean meats, veggies, and fruits and are without corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, preservatives or colors.

In their review of the Wellness Complete Health Dog Food, the dog food experts at DogFoodAdvisor found the distribution of nutritional content in the product as follows (dry matter basis): carbohydrates - 52%, proteins - 28%, and fat - 12%. Clearly, the values are within the required averages. The product is among their highly recommended dry dog foods. 

Target Dogs

Besides their wide selection of dry and wet dog food, the brands’ products include a variety of dog foods suited to:

  • Pups
  • Adults
  • Seniors.
  • Active and less active breeds
  • Small breeds
  • Overweight dogs
  • Picky Eaters
  • Dogs with allergies.

Wellness products can be found in different sizes. As for affordability, they fall somewhere between the most expensive and bargain brands.

Reviews

On Amazon, Wellness products have gathered significant positive reviews and high ratings. For example, the Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food so far has over two thousand positive reviews and an average rating of 4.5.

Over at DogFoodAdvisor, Wellness Core Dog Food (Dry) is among their most highly rated dog foods. And at Dog Food Guru, the general feeling is that Wellness products are of high-quality, despite a few controversial ingredients like rye flour, flaxseed, and peas.

5. Orijen

Orijen

Orijen dog food is manufactured by Champion Petfoods, a company based in Alberta, Canada but with manufacturing facilities in the US as well.

They began operations in 1975 and today, their foods are available in over sixty countries. Orijen brand also has sister brand called Acana that also deals in pet foods.

Recalls

Except for the few reports in Australia in 2008 about their loose bone shards being irradiated, the dog food brand has not faced any other recall or incident that comprised the quality of their foods.

Ingredients and Product Ranges

Orijen prides itself in making biologically appropriate foods comprising fresh local and regional ingredients sourced from western Canada. Some of the ingredients include nest-laid eggs, cage-free poultry, wild-caught fish, and ranch-raised meats.

Other ingredients present in their foods include Alberta Lamp, heritage pork, free-range bison, free-range wild boar, and fresh vegetables and whole fruits. No preservatives or artificial ingredients are added to their foods.

Because of all these fine ingredients, Orijen products count among the most expensive today.

 Their line of products include:

  • Eight dry dog foods
  • Nine types of free-dried treats
  • Three types of freeze-dried dog foods

In future, the company plans to venture into canned foods.

Orijen strongly believes that dogs should have a diet containing foods that are no different from what they consume while in the wild. Thus, their foods come with plenty of meat protein. Generally, they comprise of 75-80% meat, 38-42% protein, 15-20% fats, and 18-22% carbohydrates.

This is way above what most dog foods are made of. The Orijen Regional Red has lists the estimated dry matter nutritional content as follows (dry matter basis): protein – 42.2%, fat – 20%, carbs -22.2%. Evidently, all the three fall within the required average.

Another unique aspect about the company’s foods is that they consist of up to 40% fresh meats and in each formula, they utilize not less than five fresh meats.

Thanks to their quality dog foods, the company has won awards in both USA and Canada.

Target Dogs

  • Puppies
  • Adult dogs
  • Senior dogs
  • Active dogs
  • Large breed dogs

Orijen foods are quite often hard to find as they run out of stock pretty quick. Even though expensive brands like Merrick have dog foods that cost way less than Orijen’s, many dog owners still prefer Orijen due to the meat content and the fact that their recall record is almost spotless.

Reviews

After reviewing Orijen Original, DogFoodAdvisor gave it a 5-star rating. On Amazon, the same product has an average rating of 4.5/5 with dozens of positive reviews.

6. Fromm

Fromm

The Fromm Pet Food Brand has been around for 165 years. All through, their main focus has been on dog food. Currently based at Mequon, Wisconsin, the company has grown to become of one of the top dog food brands.

Recalls

In 2016, Fromm initiated a recall after the company’s in-house testing team noted unusually extra levels of Vitamin D in 12-ounce cans of their Gold Pate Recipes. It’s reassuring seeing that the recall was initiated by the company rather than a third party.

Ingredients and Product Ranges

Currently, the company makes well over 100 types of dog foods compressed into four formulas/product line. They include

  • Fromm Four-Star- Comprises three dry foods, seven types of treats, and three varieties of canned food
  • From Gold – Includes foods designed to offer dogs of all lifestyles and in different life stages a complete and balanced diet and nutrition.
  • Fromm Classic – Includes two dry food varieties: adult and mature.
  • From Pate- Comprises canned foods.

Each product line is designed to provide the dog with specific nutrient profiles.  Grain-free varieties are also available.

All Fromm products are made exclusively from US-based meats and grains and are formulated by veterinarians. Besides requesting their suppliers to test all their products for safety, the company also has an in-house team that tests the supplies to ensure they meet safety and quality standards.

Each recipe boasts of a nutritious meat as their top ingredient. The meat is obtained from lamp, duck, fish, and chicken.

Several of the brand’s recipes also comprise of vegetable content obtained from barley, rice, and oatmeal. Fat and additional proteins are obtained from chicken fat.

Additional vegetable matter in such recipes is supplied by alfalfa, flaxseed (controversial ingredient), tomato pomace (controversial ingredient), and brewer’s yeast (controversial ingredient).

Some of their recipes also contain extra sources of insulin, prebiotic (for dry food formulas), vitamins, and tryptophan and boast of naturally sourced antioxidants. No artificial additives, colors or flavors are added to Fromm Foods.

Another ingredient common in some of their recipes and worth mentioning is cheese. Besides making the food taste better, cheese offers more fat and protein content. Cheese is very rare in other dog foods.

Besides ensuring that their products meet AAFCO nutrient standards, Fromm regularly adjusts their recipes to meet the latest standards in relation to dog health and nutrition

Target Dogs

Fromm foods are available based on the size, age, and weight of your dog. They also have special foods for obese, overweight, pregnant and sick dogs. Finicky eaters are also taken care of by the brand’s Fromm Gold varieties.

However From foods may not be a suitable option for those with dogs that require breed-specific nutrition

Generally, the company’s dog foods are created to address the health needs aged dogs face and to prevent specific canine illnesses and age-related complications.

The foods are easy to find and cost pretty much the same as other upscale foods from top brands.

Reviews

Buyers of Fromm products, like Fromm Gold Adult Dog Food Small Breed, rate it highly and have left behind plenty of positive reviews. Many have found Fromm Foods to be delicious and nutritious for dogs in different life stages and those with specific dietary requirement.

At DogFoodGuru, they have expressed admiration for the food’s quality meat and ingredients, thereby giving it a 4/5-rating. However, they are of the opinion that of use of tomato pomace and pearled barley should be done away with as they are just inexpensive fillers.

Also, Fromm's Gold Dog Food has been rated highly by DogFoodAdvisor, even though they feel the protein level could be higher given their expensive nature.

In addition to the six dog brands we’ve mentioned, there are other top dog food brands known to make quality pet food.  The brands also have impressive reviews from dog owners and enthusiasts.

  • Natural Balance  
  • Organix (bought by Merrick)
  • Purina
  • Whole Hearted
  • Hill's Science Diet
  • Organix

Well, one thing is clear from all the brands we’ve looked at: They all provide a balanced diet full of proteins, modest carbohydrate content, and with limited fats and artificial ingredients. I would have extra peace of mind feeding foods from these brands to my pets.

Next, let’s now look at what you should put into consideration before making the decision to purchase specific dog food for your pooch.

Picking the Right Food For Your Dog

Knowing the appropriate food for your pooch begins by factoring in the following things:

1. Breed

breed

Some dog breeds are prone to specific health issues that are partly brought about by what they eat.

For instance, dog breeds that are prone to obesity like the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever or Pug have to be fed a diet that is low in calories and in fats in order to maintain their weight. Feeding them things like treats or diets that are not specifically formulated for this issue only serves to make things a lot worse.

Similarly, large deep-chested breeds, like the German shepherd or Boxer, are more prone to bloat and so, they don’t have to be fed the same foods that those less prone to such a condition eat.  According to PetMD, there are certain types of food that are better than others when it comes to controlling bloat.

Other conditions that are more specific to certain breeds include deafness, diabetes, and seizures. If you would like to know the conditions your dog breed is predisposed to, check out this Cambridge University website.

Once you know the condition(s), find out if what you feed your dog breed will have an impact on keeping the condition away and making them healthier.

2. Age

age

The best food for your furry pal is the type that is able to meet their nutritional needs. And these needs vary based on the life stage they are in.  A puppy’s nutritional needs are completely different from those of an adult or senior dog.

Due to their fast growth rate, puppies have higher calorie requirements than an adult or senior dog and so diets that are labeled for growth are the most appropriate for them. This includes puppy formula or ‘all life stages’ dog food. However, PetMD advises against “all life stages” food because there are some pets that gain weight on such a diet.

Adult (those aged 1- 5 or 7 years) and mature dogs (aged 6 -8 years or older) should be fed a diet that is labeled for their life-stage I.e. adult or mature. Usually, the amount of protein, carbs, and fats included in the food will be based on the dog’s activity levels, metabolic functions, and other factors.

Since the dog foods vary in nutritional content, it would be better if you consult with your vet to know which foods are appropriate for your adult or mature dog.

If you are unsure about the nutritional needs of your dog, check out this guide by Merck Veterinary Manual which highlights recommended nutrients for dogs plus the recommended amount based on age and weight.

3. Size

size

According to the American Kennel Club, large dog breeds and small dog breeds have different nutritional needs. Small dog breeds, for example, can easily choke on those large kibbles the large dog breed finds comfortable. 

Large dog breeds, on the other hand, are more predisposed to musculoskeletal issues than smaller breeds. Thus, they need a diet that is formulated to control calcium and calories intake in order to make their musculoskeletal health better.

The same applies to puppies and adults. Pups, for example, are more comfortable feeding on smaller food sizes. As the dog matures, their teeth also develop and they become at better chewing large-sized kibbles. 

4. Master the “buzz words” Featured On Dog Food Packaging

buzzwords

Not many of us are aware that the wordings on dog food packages mostly convey the total amount of protein contained in the food.

After analyzing pet food labels, FDA found that wording such as ‘Chicken Dog Food’ or ‘Beef For Dogs” actually mean that the mentioned protein constitutes 95% of the entire product, not including water.

With water present, the percentage comes to 70%. If several ingredients are mentioned, they all have to make up 95% of the food at the minimum.

Another word to watch out for is dinner. Dog foods with labels such as ‘chicken stew dinner’ only comprise 25% of that protein. Other words that follow the same rule include nuggets, formula, entrée, and platter.

If there’s more than one ingredient, all of them combined have to amount to 25% of the entire product.

And if the name mentions ‘with’, say, ”….with cheese”. It means that just 3% of the listed ingredient is needed.

5. Activity

exercise

Dogs that exercise for more than an hour a day or several times a day will need a diet that is different from the breed that only exercises for about 15 -30 minutes a day.

An active or working dog should be provided with high-fat diets to boost endurance and foods high in calories in order to function at peak performance.

Dogs that exercise for more than an hour a day or several times a day will need a diet that is different from the breed that only exercises for about 15 -30 minutes a day.

An active or working dog should be provided with high-fat diets to boost endurance and foods high in calories in order to function at peak performance.

Also, a high protein diet, according to Veterinary Enterprises Group Ltd (VetEnt), a reputable New Zealand Vet Clinic, can help to cut down exercise-induced injuries.

6. Present Health

Dog Health

Before you go ahead and purchase dog food, consider the dog’s present health status. If your furry pal is suffering from conditions like arthritisgastrointestinal problems, and sensitive stomach; has allergies; or is on medication, then they are likely going to have specific dietary requirements.

In this case, the best course of action is to get in touch with your vet to find what diet is appropriate for your pet.

5. The Grains Controversy

grains

One of the most common controversies surrounding pet foods is the use of grains. A good number of pet foods contain grains, which is a great source of carbohydrates. Once metabolized, those carbohydrates can act as a source of energy for the dog.

Generally, grains are not that bad for our little canine friends unless they have a severe allergy to foods that contain them. If you are not sure whether your dog has a food allergy, here are some of the signs you should watch out for: vomiting, scratching, diarrhea, and licking the paws excessively.

One of the most common controversies surrounding pet foods is the use of grains. A good number of pet foods contain grains, which is a great source of carbohydrates. Once metabolized, those carbohydrates can act as a source of energy for the dog.

Generally, grains are not that bad for our little canine friends unless they have a severe allergy to foods that contain them. If you are not sure whether your dog has a food allergy, here are some of the signs you should watch out for: vomiting, scratching, diarrhea, and licking the paws excessively.

But before you get too involved in the grain or gluten-free debate, please visit your pet to find out the real reason behind the allergy. Some proteins, like meat and chicken, can cause allergy as well.

6. The Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Nutrition Facts Food Label

It’s recommended that you look out for the Nutritional Adequacy Statement on the pet food label. The statement is usually placed alongside other nutritional information on a can or bag.

Usually, the statement will go like “provides complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages” or “…..for puppies..,” or…..for adult maintenance” and so on. You get it?

Also, check if the label specifies how the adequacy statement was affirmed. It can be through feeding trials or formulation. Foods that have been subjected to feeding trials are more often preferred. This shows that the food has been fed to living dogs and it passed the necessary tests.

AAFCO membership is voluntary, but the statement being there on the label gives the assurance that nutritional value is present in the food and it can be relied on.

7. Does The Food Have Artificial Preservatives, Colorings, and Additives?

preservatives

Pet Food Companies seem to like artificial preservatives for the reason that they are cheap, preserve food longer, and are more reliable compared to natural preservatives like citric acid (vitamin C), tocopherols (vitamin E), and rosemary extract.

But by now, most of us are aware that artificial preservatives contain potentially toxic chemicals that are a threat to the dog’s life. Such ingredients usually don’t sound familiar. They are either too technical or scientific.

Examples include ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), tert-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), just to name but a few (more about them later under dog food ingredients to avoid). The WholeDog Journal lists more of these preservatives.

Presence of artificial ingredients is a clear sign that the food likely has poor nutritional value.

To identify such ingredients, always check the product’s label. However, some pet food companies have a habit of not disclosing such items on their labels. In this case, find out if there are any lab tests that prove the absence of such ingredients in the products.

If no tests are present and you are not comfortable taking a chance, there’s another alternative. Switch to wet dog foods or diets that are without any meat meals.

Generally, frozen diets and canned foods are made with fresh or frozen animal ingredients, both of which are naturally not treated with preservatives.

In addition to what we’ve looked at, you might also want to check out this simple guide by the American Kennel Club on how to select a proper dog for your pet. Remember, knowing all these information is a major step towards finding, not the just proper and healthy dog food for your pet, but also a dog food brand that meets your needs and that of your dogs.

Next, let’s educate ourselves about the several types of dog food available today.

Learn the Different Types Of Dog Food

Just like human food, dog food comes in several shapes, sizes, colors, and even flavors. However, unlike human food which is available in countless varieties, dog food can be classified into a couple of varieties.

The most appropriate dog food for your pup will definitely depend on factors like their nutritional needs, the diet they enjoy the most, your budget, the vet’s recommendation, and so on.

We’ve carried out an extensive analysis of the most common types of dog foods. Hopefully, by the end of this, you will be able to figure out easily what choice fits your dog well.

Check them out.

1. Dry/Kibble

dry food

Of all food types, dry food/kibble is the most economical. This is part of the reason why many pet parents prefer them. Thanks to the low moisture content, no refrigeration is required and usually, this type of food lasts relatively longer than its counterparts.

However, because of the low moisture content, you will have to supply your pup with fresh water at all times, especially if they feed on dry kibbles.

Another controversial advantage of dry foods is that they play a major role in keeping the teeth of your dog healthy. Their dental hygiene gets better when they bite and grind such food because it helps to cut down tartar buildup.

Most dry foods comprise of meat (added either in dried or fresh state). Common examples include extruded foods e.g. kibbles or shaped pellets, mixers/biscuits, and flake foods such as flaked cereals.

More often, they are packed in bags while treats such as biscuits usually come in small boxes. Sometimes they are offered dry while other times the buyer may be required to add water or things like gravy. It all depends on the instructions of the manufacturer.

Remember to watch out for artificial ingredients and unhealthy fillers.

2. Canned (Moist Dog Food)

Food for dogs

Canned or wet foods are pretty much the opposite of dry foods. Besides the high moisture content (up to 78%), they are soggy and cost a little higher than dry foods. Also, unlike dry goods, wet food Ingredients are cooked at higher temperatures in order to sterilize the food.

Since they contain plenty of water, you will have to feed your dog more of it (in both volume and weight) so as to deliver the required nutritional value. And considering that wet foods are generally expensive, this means you have to set aside a huge budget for them.

Compared to dry dog foods, canned foods consist of more meat protein (by dry matter) and are made with fewer carbohydrates. Also, due to the air-tight packaging, canned dog food contains no artificial preservatives.

They often come in cans, pouches, or foil frays and their content includes chunks in gravy or jelly and meat loves. Chilled and frozen moist forms are also available.

Dogs, especially senior dogs that suffer from chronic dental issues that make chewing dry foods difficult find canned food more comfortable.

On top of that, canned food is good for overweight dogs that need to shed off some pounds. The moisture content in wet food can deliver the same nutrients dry foods would and also occupy more volume, making your dog feel fuller.

But that’s not all. You can visit The Whole Dog Journal’s website to learn more about the benefits of canned dog foods.

3. Raw

raw food

A raw diet for dogs usually consists of raw muscle meat still attached to the bones. Sometimes, it’s mixed with a few organs. Bones act as a source of calcium and phosphorus.

One reason raw diets work well for the majority of dogs is that dogs have strong stomach acids and short intestinal tracts, both of which enable them to easily consume and digest such diets.

According to PetMD, raw foods have potential benefits, some of which include cleaner teeth, healthier skin, shinier coat, increased energy levels, and smaller tools.

Potential risks exist as well, and they include the presence of bacteria, the possibility of bones chocking the dog, and an unbalanced diet likely to mess up the dog’s health if served for long periods of time.

Nevertheless, if handled properly, raw diets for dogs can dramatically improve their health. They are available in freeze-dried or frozen forms.

But before you feed your dog such a diet, it would be better if you talk to your vet to know if there are any risks involved.

4. Home-cooked

If you would love to be in complete control of what your dog eats, this is the best type of dog food to opt for. It involves making meals for your dog from scratch.

But before feeding your dog any homemade food, first get to know which foods your dog should never eat and those they should. Also, learn how to balance the ratios when it comes to the different nutrients your dog needs in their diet. Remember, just like humans, dogs need to be fed a balanced diet and so one must know the basics.

Well, if you don’t where to begin, PetMD’s Homemade-Dog –Food-Guide has you covered. Also, consult with your vet or a nutritionist just to be sure that whatever you are feeding your dog will help to keep them healthy and happy.

However, note that feeding your pup a homemade diet is not only time-consuming but also expensive and so, if you are not willing to bear with that, this option may not be suitable for you.

6. Semi-Moist

semi moist

Semi-moist foods are those commercial dog foods that come shaped like burgers, pork chops, or other meaty foods. They have a water content of between 60-65% and are often a little pricier than other types of dog food.

Even though semi-moist dog foods are soft, which makes them easier to consume and digest, the disadvantages they have far outweigh the benefits.

Of all dog foods, they are the type that contains the least nutritional value. In fact, some comprise chemical preservatives, artificial colorings, and flavors plus higher levels of sugar and salt, making them a bad choice for most dogs.

If you really have to feed your dog semi-moist food, do it as you would any other occasional treat, but since they lack the required nutritional value, never use the food as a diet.

7. Complete Vs Complementary

complete dog food

Complete dog foods are the type that come bearing all the required nutritional content for your dog. On top of that, they deliver the nutrients in the proportions and amounts required for your furry companion.

This is what makes them perfect for daily feeding as one doesn’t have to add any other food products.

Complementary dog foods, on the other, are made to complement your pup’s regular diet. On their own, they don’t meet the required nutritional requirements. They have to be fed alongside other foods like biscuits or mixers in order to be a complete meal.

When buying dog food, always check out the labeling to know if the food is complete or complementary.

Dog Food Ingredients To Avoid

On March 2007, there was a huge pet crisis, in which dozens of dogs and cats suffered kidney failure and a reasonable number died after consuming pet foods that contained melamine. The main product behind this crisis was contaminated wheat gluten imported from China.

Even though this incident made most pet food manufacturers to put in more efforts in making foods that utilized quality ingredients, our pets are still prone to life-threatening toxicity from diets and treats that continue to utilize artificial preservatives and other similar ingredients.

Besides being harmful, some of these ingredients deliver zero nutritional value and are the main culprit behind the digestive issues many dogs face today. 

Today, we expose the leading toxic ingredients you should watch out for. They include:

Chemical Preservatives

chemicals

EthoxyquinButylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) are the most common and dangerous chemical preservatives found in dog food.

In the US, it’s illegal to use ethoxyquin in human foods, but not in pet foods. Well, that’s not exactly reassuring given reports that the chemical can be hazardous if ingested or if it comes in contact with your skin.

Besides, Science Direct links ethoxyquin to kidney and liver problems, dermatological problems, leukemia, immune deficiency syndrome, reproductive disorders, and many other illnesses.

BHT and BHA are mostly added to oils used to make dog food to act as preservatives. However, the National Toxicology Program, Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledges that BHA is a potential carcinogen (cancer-causing agent)

Even though both chemicals are approved and recognized as safe by some organizations and administrations, it may not be worth it subjecting your pup to foods containing such chemicals, given the overwhelming number of risks they will be exposed to.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

Propylene Glycol is classified as a humectant (a moistening agent) commonly added to dog foods and treats to reduce moisture and growth of bacteria.

However, most dogs require intestinal bacteria in order to absorb and digest food and since PG prevents bacteria growth, it also inhibits the dog’s natural growth.

Also, given that the chemical reduces moisture, which is a requirement for smooth digestion, it follows that its presence exposes the dog to intestinal blockage and cancerous lesions that might develop within their intestines.

In addition to that, Pet Poison Helpline considers Propylene a toxic glycol.

Rendered Fat

Rendered animal fat can contain a bunch of awful substances. Rendering is a process in which questionable waste animal tissue is converted into value-added materials.

The tissue could be anything from slaughterhouse waste or restaurant grease to expired meat sourced from grocery stores or meats belonging to animals that in transit or in farms

The materials are then cooked until the fat and the solids separate. Thereafter, the fat is added to commercial dog foods like Kibbles to provide flavor enhancement.

The solid leftovers are converted into meat meals that then act as sources of cheap protein in bargain pet foods. The protein is usually low and considering that fats, moisture, and ash make up the rest of the product, this makes such foods unsuitable for dogs.

Rendered animal fat can also be a breeding ground for microorganisms such as salmonella and toxins. This happens when moisture gets to penetrate the dry food packaging, thus leading to the growth of bacteria and mold. 

Corn and Soy

corn

Some Pet Food Manufacturers prefer to use corn and soy as they are both cheap protein substitutes. Unfortunately, they don’t deliver sufficient protein for dogs.

Corn, for instance, delivers excess carbohydrates exposing the dog to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and allergies.

Soy, on the other hand, is a known allergen. Soy allergies bring about an Itchy skin, pruritus, self-trauma, among other uncomfortable effects.

Also, both corn and soy are among the top genetically modified crops and this makes them unsuitable for dogs.

Animal By-products

Animal by-products are basically animal leftovers.  They could be from lamp, fish, chicken, turkey, or any other feed animal. Muscle meat is rarely included in animal by-products.

Because they are unregulated, animal by-products could be anything from hooves, teeth, and beaks to organs, bones, feathers, and fur.  It may be hard to tell if the product contains infected tissues. Besides, their nutritional value is questionable.

Sweeteners

sweeteners

Dogs, just like humans, need certain kinds of sugars to live and operate optimally. The kind of sugars they need can be obtained from carbohydrates, which is usually converted into glucose by their body. 

Sugary treats and diets shouldn’t be fed to pets because they don’t add any nutritional value to their body. Instead, they expose them to serious conditions like diabetes, weight gain, and a bunch of other health problems brought about by sugars.

PetMD lists more reasons why you should never feed your dog sugars. Sometimes these sugars will come disguised as fructose, dextrose, or sucralose. Well, just avoid those dog foods bearing such ingredients.

Some dog foods also contain poisonous artificial sweeteners like xylitol. Xylitol can lead to loss of coordination and vomiting.

To sum up, the ingredient part of a product’s labeling will always list the ingredients contained in the food. So, always scrutinize the product’s labeling to rule out the presence of these toxic ingredients.

If you need extra assurance, get in touch with the pet food manufacturer. Let them explain any questionable ingredients and confirm that they are safe for dogs.

Also, read reviews by previous customers and dog experts to know how their experience with the product in question was.

More importantly, always go for dog foods that contain whole food ingredients, natural preservatives, and real meat protein as they are the healthiest and reliable.

Final Thoughts

Any serious pet parent would not pass up the opportunity to give their pooch a long and healthy life. That’s probably why you exercise your dog regularly, keep her well groomed, and train her to be better a furry friend.

Well, if you are doing those three right, then there’s only one thing left that you should master: Feeding them right.

As our guide has shown, there’s a lot to learn when it comes to that, from knowing the top dog food brands of today and learning how to pick the right food for your dog to mastering the different types of dog foods and educating oneself about the dog food ingredients to avoid.

It’s simple as that. So, take your time to learn everything you can for the sake of you lovely canine friend.

Have any thoughts you’d like to share in regard to all we’ve learned? We’d be glad to hear in the comment section below.