As dog owners, we all love our pets and care very much for their well-being, so it’s natural to be concerned about the ingredients and type of food we put into their bodies. That may lead you to the question, what are the healthiest dog foods and best food brands? Are there better brands than others? What “bad” ingredients should you be looking out for?
Pampered Pets USA makes healthy soft-baked treats for dogs of all ages. Our treats are primarily made with oatmeal. We use the same ingredients you would use for your family. Our treats don’t contain wheat or corn, which makes them perfect for dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies.
As a company with over 25 years of experience baking healthy dog treats made with wholesome ingredients (ingredients YOU and your family can eat too), we have a good idea of what ingredients are healthy for your pet and what dog food ingredients you should look out for and avoid to ensure a happy and healthy pup!
What Makes a Dog Food “Healthy”?
The best way to know whether or not a dog food is healthy is by looking at the nutrition label and the ingredients the dog food is made with. If you don’t already know, the ingredients label on all products is written from “most” to “least”. For example, if the first ingredient on an ingredient list is sugar, then the product is primarily made of sugar. If the last ingredient on the list is water, that is the ingredient that was used least in the product.
The healthiness of dog food depends on the ingredients, type of food, your pet’s diet restrictions, and whether or not your dog has any allergies or food sensitivities. This is a general guide to figuring out the best high-quality dog foods that use whole, natural, and healthy ingredients.
The biggest indicator of whether dog food is healthy is based on the first 5 ingredients on the nutrition label. Wholesome dog food will contain whole and natural ingredients. It won’t be filled with flour or bone meals. Balanced and nutritious dog food should include meat, vegetables, fats, fiber, grains, vitamins, minerals, and water. The absolute best food for your dog includes high-quality versions of these ingredients.
Ultimately, the best dog food is the one that meets your individual dog’s needs. To ensure the dog food you choose is right for your dog, make sure to consult your dog’s veterinarian before you start feeding your dog.
Choose The Best Dog Food Brand With These Tips
The product name alone can tell you a lot about the dog food and what’s actually inside. The term “chicken” means that chicken should make up at least 70% of the entire product. The terms “chicken dinner,” “chicken entreé,” or “chicken platter,” only require that chicken makes up 10% of the product. Last but not least, the term “made with chicken,” only requires that 3% of the total product is made with chicken or chicken flavor.
The ingredients on a dog food label won’t tell you the quality of ingredients and whether or not they’ve been processed, and some dog food companies even split up the ingredients to make the distribution look more equal than it is. For example, they may spread out corn into multiple different types of corn so they can bump the amount of corn used in the dog food down on the ingredients label. Corn may be listed as ground corn, kibbled corn, or flaked corn. If they’re not all grouped as one, it won’t be considered a high percentage of the product, and it can be bumped further down the ingredient list.
The most important and tricky thing is determining how much meat/protein is in the dog food. Whole meats contain a larger percentage of water weight and fats, which means the overall percentage of meat after processing is lower than it appears. When you see chicken listed as an ingredient, it means unprocessed chicken, complete with water and fats. On the other hand, “meat meal” (whether it’s chicken meal, beef meal, or turkey meal), sounds less appealing but contains more meat and protein than “whole meats,” because there is no water weight or fat to throw off the calculation. So, don’t be turned off when you see a whole meat meal in a dog food ingredient label. Chances are, the whole meat meal will have more protein and nutrients in it than a whole meat ingredient. However, be aware that not all meat meals are whole or made the same. “Bone meals”, “by-product meals” or “soybean meals” are not as digestible or nutritious for dogs. Some manufacturers use cheaper ingredients like cartilage, bone, and viscera that are not as digestible or nutritious for dogs to make their dog food. So, be on the lookout for a whole meat meal when choosing the right food for your pet.
Disclaimer: This information is for commercial brands that are easily available in multiple retail and online stores. To find the highest quality brands, try searching at your local natural pet food store. The absolute highest quality pet food stores should offer frozen food, raw food, and kibble with only high quality ingredients. These stores usually have employees that are very helpful and help you select a specific dog food for your dog’s breed and needs. Usually, the employees at these stores are well-versed and trained in nutrition so they should be able to give you some good options for picking the right food brand for your dog. Vets are a good source for information too and it’s always good to consult with a vet before you change your dog’s diet.
Healthy Dog Food Ingredients To Look Out For
Whether you’re looking to feed your dog dry food like kibble, or canned wet food, there are some ingredients you should look out for. Even though these forms of food may seem processed or unappealing to us, most of these types of dog food contain all the nutrients dogs need to stay healthy.
The ingredients listed below are also endorsed by the American Kennel Club Organization and should be looked out for when you go pet food shopping.
Whole Food Ingredients
Whole food ingredients are minimally processed so they deliver the nutrients, vitamins, and fiber that pack the most value as opposed to powdered or synthetic ingredients. Whole food ingredients include:
- Fresh meats – whole animal organs, poultry, wild-caught or farm-raised fish naturally high in protein and healthy fats
- Fresh veggies – select fruits and veggies that add natural soluble fiber and nutrients
- Fresh grains – select nutrient-rich grains that promote a healthy digestive environment
Even though meat makes up a majority of a dog’s diet, dogs also derive nutrients from grains, select fruits, and vegetables. These non-meat ingredients are not simply fillers but are a valuable source of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that promote a healthy digestive environment for dogs. Here are some wholesome grains that can help your dog’s digestive health:
Whole Fruits and Vegetables (supports digestive health)
- Butternut Squash
Nutrient-Rich Grains (promotes a healthy digestive environment)
Is Raw Meat and Food Healthy For A Dog?
There are a lot of different opinions out there about whether or not raw meat is healthy for dogs. Some people believe that feeding their dog raw meat is the best way to ensure their pet stays healthy, while others think that fresh food could make their dog sick. So, what’s the truth?
There is no definitive answer, as there are pros and cons to both feeding your dog raw meat and commercially-prepared dog food, which doesn’t mean unhealthy. However, it is generally accepted that uncooked food includes more nutrients and vitamins than processed dog food (dry or canned wet food). Additionally, some experts believe that dogs are better able to digest and absorb nutrients from raw meat than they are from processed food.
What Is Fresh Dog Food?
Different types of raw dog food diets include homemade, store-bought, freeze-dried, and dehydrated. A raw diet typically contains organ meats, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, dog-safe fresh fruits and vegetables, and a dairy product such as yogurt. Those who support raw food diets say that there are benefits like shinier coats, healthier skin, improved dental health, increased energy, and smaller stools, which could mean everything fed to the dog is being used and processed by their digestive system.
Some veterinarians caution that raw diets might not be ideal for dogs who live with young children or people with weakened immune systems. Preparing and handling uncooked food requires extra care and cleanliness. Dogs with pancreatitis, cancer, or other diseases may need cooked food. Puppies are also better off having cooked food.
The American Veterinary Medical Association does not support the feeding of uncooked foods without regulation and advises against “feeding cats and dogs any animal-based protein that has not gone through a process to eliminate pathogens, as this poses a risk of illness to both pets and people.” If you’re interested in learning more about the American Veterinary Medical Association and the FDA’s regulations on feeding raw meat and food to pets, feel free to click here.
Even though the American Veterinary Medical Association and FDA advise against feeding your dog a raw meat diet, there are fresh food services and human-grade dog food services offered by subscription and delivered to your door. The best ones you should consider purchasing from work with veterinary nutritionists to formulate a plan customized just for your dog. They also provide more information about raw ingredients, feeding schedules, and things to consider before switching your dog to a raw food diet.
If you’re considering switching your dog to a raw diet, it’s important to do your research and consult with your vet to make sure it’s the right decision for your pet.
Choose The Right Food For Your Dog
As you probably have already seen, there are a ton of different food for dogs on the market. You’ll see everything from grain-free dog food, to canned wet dog food, to food by breed, and food geared towards adult dogs, senior dogs, or puppies.
If your dog isn’t allergic or sensitive to grain, then grain-free dog food probably wouldn’t be a good option for your dog as grains are actually a source of wholesome ingredients for your dog. It’s important to consult with your vet before making a decision on changing the type of dog food your dog consumes.
Also, depending on your dog’s breed and whether they’re a large breed or small breed, your dog food options may differ. Many dog foods are created for breeds that are large, and they have different meat, veggies, and fruit ratios. This means that the density and portions in which the nutrients are manufactured are specific to the breed size and weight. If you feed a small dog the same food that is advertised to large dogs, then your small dog may get sick from it.
To ensure you find the best dog food for your pet, be sure to talk to your vet to determine whether your dog has food allergies or a sensitive stomach.
Healthiest Dog Food Brands For All Dogs
There are many healthy food brands on the market, but not all of them are created equal. Some brands use lower-quality ingredients and fillers, while others use more natural and nutritious ingredients. When choosing healthy food for your pup, it’s important to read the label and understand what goes into each recipe. The best dog food will use high-quality proteins, vegetables, and fruits, and avoid artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors. To help you find the most healthy food brand for your furry friend, we’ve compiled a list of the best companies that are known to make healthy pet food.
When you’re looking for the best dry dog food for your pup, you’ll want to consider things like ingredient quality, nutritional value, and price. Some of the best dry food brands include Royal Canin, Wellness, The Honest Kitchen, and Taste of the Wild. These brands offer high-quality ingredients, complete nutrition, and great value.
This brand takes a nutrient-focused approach to their food and they offer breed-specific choices, which means the dog food is tailored to your pup’s breed traits and their common problems. Even the kibble shape is tailored and selected based on the breed’s jaw structure and bite pattern! It’s formulated by scientists and nutritionists and is highly palatable to most dogs. They provide food for adults, puppies and senior dogs. Royal Canin also employs nutritional and research teams that help create its products to create optimal diet profiles for the specific nutritional needs of each breed. Even though Royal Canin is known to be one of the best dog foods, the downside to this brand is that their formulas can be pricey!
The Honest Kitchen
The Honest Kitchen is known for making quality dog food with human-grade ingredients. There are no official regulations as to what human-grade entails, but the term in the dog food industry is used to explain that the food is stored, handled, processed, and transported in the same way as human foods. However, The Honest Kitchen ensures that they offer dog food without any “feed grade” ingredients like meat meals, fillers, by-products, corn, wheat, and soy. This brand sells dehydrated, dry and wet food. They offer formulas for adults, puppies, and seniors as well as a variety of different protein flavors. Although their products meet the nutritional guidelines of AAFCO, it’s unclear whether their formulas were formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. They are also on the pricey end of dog foods!
Wellness offers dog formulas for different-sized breeds, puppies, adults, and seniors. They also have formulas with different protein flavors. The first five ingredients of their formulas usually consist of deboned protein, protein meal, oatmeal, ground barley, and peas, which are all whole and healthy ingredients for your pup! Their dry matter label analysis reveals their formulas contain about 27% protein, 13% fat, and 52% estimated carbohydrates, creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%. Wellness is known to have one of the best grain-inclusive kibbles on the market, and they’re not too expensive for the quality they offer.
Taste of the Wild
High Prairie, the manufacturer of Taste of the Wild, has 9 kibble recipes in its product line. This brand would be perfect for your pet if they have a grain allergy or sensitive stomach as they are a grain-free food brand. Their first five ingredients consist of buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, and peas, which are also all whole and healthy ingredients for your pet. They have formulas for puppies and small breeds with different protein profiles like salmon and venison. They derive their meat protein for their dry food from fresh buffalo, along with chicken and lamb meals. The dry matter label analysis shows that their recipe contains about 36% protein, 20% fat, and 26% estimated carbs, producing a fat-to-protein ratio of 56%. Taste of the Wild is top-rated and has a line of nutrient-balanced formulas at an affordable price. You win all around with this brand. We would have to rate this brand as the best overall dog food on the market.
Wet dog food is becoming increasingly popular, as it is seen as being more nutritious and flavorful than dry food. Canned food is also a good option for wet dog food, as it is often cheaper and easier to store. Here are some wet food brands you can rely on.
Blue Buffalo has 12 canned recipes in their canned homestyle recipes for dogs. The first five ingredients in their food are chicken, chicken brother, chicken liver, carrots, and peas, which are all wholesome ingredients. This brand is grain-inclusive, but their canned food is for adults only, not for puppies. The recipe contains 39% protein, 27% fat, and 26% estimated carbs, producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 71%. This brand has a nutritionally complete formula ideal for all adult dogs.
Canidae has 4 canned recipes with the first five ingredients being chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, dried egg product, and brown rice. This brand actually makes food for dogs throughout all life stages, so you can use it for adult dogs and puppies! Their recipes are also free of corn, wheat, and soy. The recipe contains 41% protein, 30% fat, and 22% carbs, which would be a fat-to-protein ratio of 72%.
Wellness has 6 canned recipes with the first five ingredients being turkey, turkey broth, water, turkey liver, and carrots. Their food is best for adults, small or medium breed dogs at any life stage. Their recipes contain about 44% protein, 22% fat, and 25% carbs which puts it at a fat-to-protein ratio of 50%. This brand has a healthy wet formula with a great fat-to-protein balance.
When it comes to choosing a diet for your dog, there are certain foods and brands you should avoid. These include foods that are high in fat, sugar, and calories, as well as brands that use low-quality ingredients or have been linked to health problems in dogs. To ensure your dog is getting the nutrition they need, choose a food that is specifically designed for its life stage and activity level, and be sure to read the ingredient label carefully. Here are some food brands we think you should avoid.
Purina is not new to the pet food industry, having been launched in 1893. It may have some good products, but not for dogs. Corn, wheat, and soy are the main ingredients, with artificial preservatives and colors also present in their formulas. Their food lacks quality ingredients. It also contains bone meal which isn’t quality protein for your pet and can cause constipation and blockage of your dog’s bowels.
Since 1957, Pedigree has been producing pet foods. While this brand offers a variety of dog food options for all ages and sizes of dogs, it is not an ideal option as its primary ingredient is corn. Additionally, Pedigree dog food contains other low-quality ingredients such as meat by-products, wheat gluten, and artificial flavors. These are heavy carbs foods filled with fillers that do not meet the needs for good dog food. Although Pedigree’s food variety and affordable prices are appealing, there are better options available that provide the nutrients dogs need.
Ol’ Roy is cheap, but the reason it’s on this list is because of the quality of its ingredients. The main ingredient, as with many other bad brands, is corn. This brand is high in carbohydrates. The macronutrient ratio is typically 56% carbs, 11% fat, and 25% protein. Carbs are slow to digest and provide energy, but dogs don’t need that many carbs for energy.
Healthiest Dog Food Brands Conclusion
At the end of the day, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to make sure you are choosing the best dog food for your dog. Your vet will help you find the best dog food with the best nutritional value for your dog. They will also have the best advice for dogs with allergies or what the best puppy food is for someone who has a new dog. In addition to our help and research, you never know what other beneficial dog food might be available with all the selections we have in 2022!
If you’re a new dog owner, it’s always good to know what foods to avoid to make sure your dog doesn’t get sick. We’ve got you covered with an article on what human foods dogs need to avoid to ensure that they stay happy and healthy!