Recently, my blog "5 Pet Food Secrets Corporations Don't Want You to Know About" got a huge response. There was lot of surprise and disgust over those industry practices. Also, a lot of questions about better pet food options.
Personally, I feel that optimal canine health is achieved with raw or fresh food rather than dry kibble. But, as many families have been experiencing some difficult times in recent years, the convenience and cost of dry kibble is tough for many to pass up. Despite this, please understand that our pets' diets affect every aspect of their health, and that kibble, purely from a wellness perspective, is probably not the best way to go. However, if you do choose dry kibble, it's important to spend time researching and learning about the various brands and varieties. I've offered a few of my top choices below to help assist you in this process.
In general, there are a few things I recommend when selecting a dog food brand:
- No "Meat" or "Bone meal." When no source - chicken, beef, ect. - is listed, "meat" could be ANYTHING - even spoiled leftovers, roadkill or euthanized pets! Seriously. No thanks!
- No By-Products.Beaks, hooves, feathers, tumors... by-products could literally be anything and I don't see them offering much nutrition.
- No Corn or Soy. Companies use this because it is inexpensive and filling, but it offers little of the nutrients your pets need.
- First 10 ingredients make up 80% of the formula. A lot of times, companies add in minute amounts of the best ingredients simply so they can list them on the packaging. You should know what they first 10 ingredients are and they should represent the majority of what goes into the food.
Still, as a dog trainer, some of my clients are interested to know which specific brands of dog foods I like. Here are my top 3 commercial dog food picks. All 3 come in a GRAIN-FREE version that I HIGHLY recommend.
Earthborn is actually so tasty to dogs, I often use it for TREATS during a training session (they sell small sample bags at your local pet stores for around $2.99) and as a result, I have many clients asking me what I use because their dog loves it so much!
Earthborn's brands not only offer great nutritional value, but a product made with the environment in mind! The company has a policy of using earth friendly materials and reducing waste. They even have a program where they they will plant trees in deforested areas if you send in the UPC's from their packaging!
COST RANGE: $15.00 - $50.00 (depending on size of bag and selection)
INGREDIENTS: Earthborn Holistic® Primitive Natural™ Dog Food (GRAIN FREE)
- Turkey Meal,
- Chicken Meal,
- Whitefish Meal,
- Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E),
- Dried Egg Product,
- Tomato Pomace,
...Peas, Spinach, Garlic, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Taurine, Cottage Cheese, L-Lysine, DL-Methionine, Beta-Carotene, Calcium Carbonate, Zinc Oxide, Magnesium Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, L-Carnitine, Vitamin B12 Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Ferrous Sulfate, Biotin, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Calcium Iodate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Manganese Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product.
This is one of my new favorites! Innova is part of the Natura Pet food collection which includes another of my favorites, California Natural (see below for more information).
The Innova company focuses on the five food pyramid groups for our pets. Innova offers puppy, large and small breed, low-fat, and senior selections to choose from.
They also offer a "Frequent Buyer Club" membership that when you buy 10 you get 1 free deal!
COST RANGE: $7.00 - $64.00 (depending on size of bag and selection)
INGREDIENTS: Innova Adult Dry Dog Food - Large Bites
- Chicken Meal,
- Brown Rice,
- Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, a Natural Source of Vitamin E),
...Natural Flavors, Herring, Apple, Carrot, Pumpkin, Egg, Sunflower Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, a Natural Source of Vitamin E), Sea Salt, Potassium Chloride, Herring Oil, Cottage Cheese, Alfalfa Sprouts, Vitamins (Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E Supplement, Betaine, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Beta Carotene, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Calcium Carbonate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate), Direct Fed Microbials (Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product), Lecithin, Rosemary Extract
California Natural is part of the Natura Pet food collection and is one of the brands that I have reviewed, researched and recommended as dog food for my clients. This brand is focused on the "less is more"; motto.
As you can see from their ingredients below, they are limited, only focusing on the more nutritional aspect leaving out ingredients that our pets don't need.
- NO wheat
- NO corn
- NO soy
- NO artificial preservatives
- NO artificial flavoring
- NO added coloring
- NO by-products
COST RANGE: $11.00 - $73.00 (depending on size of bag and selection)
INGREDIENTS: Herring - Sweet Potato Adult Dry Dog Food
- Herring Meal,
- Herring Oil,
- Sunflower Oil (Preserved with Natural Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid),
- Sweet Potato...
...Natural Flavors, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Betaine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Beta Carotene, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Folic Acid), Minerals (Calcium Carbonate, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate), Potassium Chloride, Rosemary Extract
What benefits do high-quality dog foods offer?
All three of these commercial dog food brands are manufactured and packaged here in the U.S as well as their packaging materials are made here in the U.S. Please note that although these foods are higher in price, they are also higher in quality and grade and that means:
- More nutritious food, means your dog won't need as much to satisfy them.
- Nutritional superiority means your dog will be healthier and less likely to develop diseases.
- Better mix means less bowel movements throughout the day.
- Bowel movements will be healthy and solid, not runny.
- Food is fresher. The closer the food manufacturer is to you, the less preservatives they will need to add.
- AAFCO regulation and certification offers peace of mind.
Please note that the above brands are just my personal recommendations. There are MANY other great commercial and from scratch diet plans for dogs out there!
Food is the foundation of your dog's health so I encourage you all to do your research to make sure you are providing your fur kid with the best food possible!