Which Are the Best Dog Foods and Treats for Your Pet?
What are the best dog foods and dog treats? Let’s start with what makes a good dog food. A good dog food depends on the quality of ingredients and the nutritional power of the food. It should offer a balanced diet and the label should state “formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrients Profile.”
Economy Dog Food Versus Premium Dog Food
Most dog foods found in grocery stores tend to be economy dog foods, which, interestingly, end up costing more to feed your dog than buying a premium or super-premium dog food. This is because standard dog foods tend to be lower in nutrients than premium foods and you have to use more food to get the same nutritional benefits of a higher priced premium food. For example, the suggested feeding instructions for one economy brand said feed approximately 6 cups a day for a 35-50lb dog. A super-premium food manufacturer recommends approximately 1 3/4-2 cups per day. So not only are you feeding your dog three times as much of the standard dog food, which reduces the cost benefit, with that kind of volume just imagine the extra poop you will have to clean up!
We looked at super-premium dog foods and found that they had an average of Crude Protein (Min) 23-27.0% and Crude Fat (Min) 13-15.0%. Lower end dog foods average 20% crude protein and 8% crude fat.
Economy dog foods usually contain corn meal as one of the main ingredients (an ok protein source, but may cause allergies in some dogs), along with chicken or animal byproducts or rendered meat/poultry. Byproducts are ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcasses of slaughtered animals or poultry and can include heads, feet, necks, viscera. These tend to be less nutritious but are often used in economy dog foods because them are much less expensive than whole turkey, chicken or meat. Rendered is often referred to as “byproducts meal” and it means cooked and processed remains of the leftovers in meat and poultry processing.
The blog site for Canidae All-Natural Pet Foods is a good resource for additional information on feeding your dog. The blog promotes responsible pet ownership as well as helpful tips for keeping your dog healthy and happy.
What to Look for in a Dog Food
Look for dog foods that are made from whole product, such as turkey, chicken and lamb. Also check the label to make sure the protein source is free of antibiotics, hormones and pesticides. Chicken fat is an excellent source of linoleic acid, which helps makes dogs’ coats healthy and shiny. Look for dog foods with chicken fat as the source of fat. Also look at the fiber content. 3-4% fiber is generally preferred for solid stools.
Some people even advocate a BARF diet or Raw Feeding in place of commercial dog foods.
What You Don’t Want to Find in a Dog Food:
rendered meats, poultry or fats
added growth hormones
protein from animals/poultry fed that were given antibiotics
brain or spinal tissue
artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives
corn, soy, wheat and eggs may aggravate or cause allergies
Which are the 10 Best Dry Dog Foods – Top Ranked Holistic Dog Foods
While we are not dog food experts, below is a list of our top ranked holistic dog foods, listed in alphabetical order. Note: within the brands there are usually several options such as grain-free, raw, etc:
California Natural Grain Free Dog Food
CANIDAE All Natural Dog Food
Flint River Ranch
Newman’s Own Organics
Pinnacle (by Avoderm)
Timberwolf Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
*Main protein source is natural, antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken. No animal by-products or rendered meat or fats. Does contain soy flour and corn gluten meal
How Much Dog Food to Feed?
The amount of dog food to give your pet varies depending on his size and weight and the brand of food. Usually with premium and ultra premium foods you need to feed your dog less than with grocery store brands.
Tip #1: Remember, whichever dog food you choose, always have a bowl of fresh water available for your pet.
Tip #2: Vary your dog’s food. Would you like to eat the same thing every day for your whole life? Neither does your dog. It is a good idea to vary your dog’s food so he doesn’t get tired of it. Further, eating the same food all the time can contribute to the development of food allergies. When switching foods, most vets—as well as dog food companies—recommend you take about a week to gradually make the change. Start by adding a small amount of the new food to the old dog food and gradually increase the new food and decrease the old one. This helps eliminate stomach problems (dogs find enough reasons to throw up etc., their dog food should not be one of them.)
Tip #3: As much as it may be tempting when you see that sweet face and those big brown eyes looking at you, try to avoid feeding your dog people food, especially rich or fattening foods. It can upset their digestive system and throw off their nutritional balance, plus it usually leads to them begging or getting in your way whenever you are in the kitchen or near food.
Next: Dog Treats
Recommended books about dog food and dog nutrition:
“Healthy Food for Dogs: Homemade Recipes” by John Miller
This is a best selling e-book filled with great recipes and info including healthy dog food recipes for young and old dogs, natural recipe to keep flea away, gourmet biscuits and treat recipes and dozens of other recipes for delicious, economical, healthful dog food. Get free updates to his book and free newsletter. 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee.
The Healthy Dog Cookbook: 50 Nutritious & Delicious Recipes Your Dog Will Love by Jonna Anne
Contains 50 nutritious dinner, snack and treat recipes for every type and size of dog. Also includes special diet requirements such as wheat-free (although many recipes do contain wheat). The recipes easy and inexpensive to make and a veterinarian provides health and nutrition comments.
Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Dr. Richard Pitcairn
Dr. Pitcairn has a holistic approach to pet nutrition and natural healing. This book is a classic and a must-have for pet owners. It contains comprehensive info on nutrition and includes a host of recipes, as well as helpful info on a variety of health issues, environmental concerns, vaccines, weight problems, emergencies, pregancy, worms, and much more.
Raw Dog Food: Make It Easy for You and Your Dog by Carina Beth MacDonald
An excellent resource if you are considering switching your dog to a raw food diet. This entergaining book explains the logic behind a raw food diet and how to make the change.
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