Choosing the right food for your dog can be one of the most important decisions you make in your dog’s lifetime. Dog food has been specifically designed to meet the needs of dogs based on the nutritional needs required for them to be happy and healthy.
Most brands of dog food are created by a team of veterinarians who use science and medical knowledge to come up with formulas that are healthy and nutritious. Many dog foods are free of various ingredients that are not considered healthy for dogs. These ingredients may include wheat, corn, soy, and all types of grains.
Dog food is designed specifically for dogs based on the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need each day. Most dog foods will include a feeding recommendation on the bag based on the weight and size of your dog. It’s important to follow these recommendations to optimize you
Top 5 Dog Food
- Contains one (1) 20.4 lb. bag of PEDIGREE Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food, Roasted Chicken,...
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- 40 lb. Bag - Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Chicken & Rice Formula Adult Dry Dog Food
- Real chicken is the No.1 ingredient
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- 16.5 Lb. Bag - Purina One Smartblend Natural Lamb & Rice Formula Adult Dry Dog Food
- Made With High-Quality Protein Sources, Including Real Lamb As The #1 Ingredient
How we chose our favorite dog foods
We started with 3,009 formulas
We began by collecting every adult dog food currently sold in the U.S. That came to 3,009 dog foods. We then made two exceptions: We excluded products that failed to list their ingredients and any manufacturer that lacked a working website. This gave us a list of 2,969 formulas, including both dry and wet dog food. It took us about a month to compile our list. But we wanted to be sure we considered every formula pet owners are likely to run into, whether they’re browsing for dog food online, at the grocery store or at a specialty retailer.
Cut: Toxic ingredients
We weren’t surprised to find that most of our 2,969 formulas were free of ingredients known to be toxic to dogs, like avocados, grapes, and chocolate. We were surprised to find that garlic and onion turned up in almost 200 formulas. Despite the punch that these two ingredients add to bland food, they are members of the Allium plant genus, which is toxic to both dogs and cats. Along with leeks, scallions, chives, and shallots, garlic and onion can make dogs immediately sick in large quantities. If eaten in small amounts over time (say, as a flavoring in their regular food), they can damage red blood cells, causing anemia.
Cut: Low-quality mystery “meats” and “meals”
Whole meats are expensive, and many manufacturers supplement their formulas with meat meal to ensure your dog is getting a balanced diet at an affordable cost. Although meat meal sounds gross if you’re not a dog, there’s nothing terrifying about it. It’s created through a high-pressure, high-temperature process called rendering: Fat and moisture are separated out from dried, solid protein by grinding everything up and steam cooking it all at extremely high temperatures. The dried solids make up the meal.
First, manufacturers aren’t required to be transparent about how their meals are rendered. The nutritional quality of meal can vary since natural enzymes and proteins are sometimes destroyed during very high-temperature manufacturing processes. But there’s no way for consumers to monitor this since companies aren’t required to disclose their exact practices.
Second, the animal parts that meal is made out of are often low quality, to begin with. The American Association of Feed Control Officials, a group that helps the FDA establish labeling standards, allows anything that’s labeled “meat meal” to be sourced “from mammals other than cattle, pigs, sheep or goats without further description,” which means you can’t be sure exactly what’s in it. We were pretty grossed out to learn meat meal can also be sourced from stuff like restaurant grease, diseased livestock and expired supermarket meat.
Guide to Finding the Best Dog Food
Just like humans, dogs have preferences. One of our office dogs, for example, devours salmon with gusto but acts offended if he’s served bison. Since no single protein source is superior, it’s fine to cater to your dog’s preferences — or to explore a variety of flavors if you’re a new pup owner.
Signs that your dog may have a food allergy include itchy skin, diarrhea, and gassiness. If you don’t think your dog has a food allergy, he’s probably fine: Food allergies make up 10 percent of all dog allergies. But if you’ve noticed any of the issues above, it might be time to switch formulas. “When pets have food sensitivities or allergies, it is most commonly due to protein in the food,” Dr. Gary Richter told us. “Sometimes the problem is meat like chicken or beef, and sometimes it is the protein component of plant material, such as wheat, corn or rice.”