I’m often asked about the a list of the best dog foods ranked in order of preference.
As you probably know, my preference is for fresh, raw food for my dogs.
But I appreciate that many pet owners are going to opt for the convenience of a pre-prepared food no matter what. So if you’re one of this group, this article is for you. I’m going to be giving some tips on how to compare dog food and have sufficient knowledge to make an informed decision on what is the best dog food for your dog.
Best Dog Foods Ranked
There are various labels applied to supposed grades of dog food that you need to be aware of when comparing dog foods – premium dog foods, healthy dog food, wellness dog food, holistic dog food, organic dog food, natural dog food, natural organic dog food, and even exclusive dog food.
But what do they all mean?
Well, actually not a whole lot.
Some of the above “grades” of dog food are pretty much interchangeable with each other, and none of them are a guarantee of top quality natural dog food for your dog.
For example, organic dog food has to be the same as natural organic dog food, right? Because an organic product is of its very nature a natural product. And healthy dog food is pretty much identical in type to wellness dog food and also holistic dog food. And as for premium dog foods, and exclusive dog food – well, you need to ask exactly what “premium” dog food ingredients or “exclusive” dog food ingredients do these foods contain, and exactly why are those ingredients “premium” or “exclusive”.
When you think about it, an exclusive dog food is not necessarily a healthy dog food at all. I’m sure it’s what the manufacturers mean to imply, but in theory a pet food manufacturer could call its product exclusive dog food because it contains chocolate – it would be extremely harmful to the dog, but still an exclusive dog food, since no other dog foods contain chocolate. Yes, I’m being a little silly, but I’m trying to make a point here.
So just how is it possible to evaluate the best dog foods when comparing dog foods with each other? What makes a top rated dog food?
Well, there are five main areas to look at …
One of the keys is in the list of dog food ingredients.
The first ingredient must, of course, be a meat (or chicken or other animal protein source). Not as obvious, but just as important, is that the vast majority of the first 4 to 6 ingredients must be meat (or chicken or other animal protein source). A common “trick” of pet food manufacturers is to list a meat as the first ingredient, and then to list 2, 3 or 4 grains. So what is the main ingredient? – The combined grains. There could be three or four times the amount of grain as compared to the amount of meat. Not good. And most people have no idea that this is the case.
Secondly, you need to take note of the types of grains that make up the food. Many experts believe that wheat is only desirable in fairly small quantities. And corn is not a good ingredient in dog food – it’s not good nutritionally for dogs and can cause allergies in some dogs. Oats are good, rice is not bad, particularly brown rice, and millet, rye and barley are okay. But again, make sure that the total grain content is small compared to the meat content.
Next after the dog food ingredients, is the manner in which the dog food has been processed. Freeze dried dog food is a good method of processing. Dehydrated is another. Baked could be okay, if it really is baked in the normal way you or I would understand something being baked in a normal oven. Canned is not so good because of the high temperatures required. And extruded (kibble processed at extremely high heat) is the worst of all.
Fourthly, we go back to the dog food ingredients – the food should preferably have some vegetable, fruit and/or herb content. This is not absolutely essential for a top rated dog food, but does provide a good nutritional balance for your dog.
Lastly, some dog foods, including those classified as natural dog foods, have added supplements – e.g. food formulated for older dogs will sometimes contain a supplement to assist with arthritis, and some dog foods contain probiotics which are great for the digestion. These supplements are certainly not essential, and some people prefer not to have supplements added to the dog food they buy, as it is easier to give fixed dosages when giving supplements separate to food, and you can choose what types of supplements to give as well.
Best Dog Foods Ranked in the Marketplace
So okay, you don’t want to have to go through this exercise with each and every dog food on the market – you’ll need spend weeks reading through labels in supermarkets and pet stores! Even if you do your research online it will take you hours and hours and hours to look through all the dog food brands out there – Pedigree dog food, Nutro dog food, Purina dog food, Iams dog food, Innova dog food (also known as Evo dog food), Alpo dog food, Beneful dog food, Diamond dog food, Canidae dog food, Merrick dog food, Royal Canin dog food, Joy dog food, Nature’s Variety dog food, Orijen dog food, Solid Gold dog food, Natural Balance dog food, Science Diet dog food, California Natural dog food, Eagle Pack dog food, Timberwolf dog food, Blue Buffalo dog food, Flint River Ranch dog food, Life’s Abundance dog food and so the long, long list goes on!
And to make matters worse, your list (and the above list) may not even contain the very best dog foods. As I alluded to earlier, the commercial dog food manufacturers that are most well known to us are the dog food brands that spend the most on advertising – NOT the ones that are best for your dog. In fact, some of the biggest spenders have that money to spend on their advertising budget because of the exceedingly low (and cheap) quality of their foods.
I don’t pretend to have undertaken any really comprehensive dog food comparisons, but a number of people have asked me for a list of the 10 best dog foods.
Well, I tried, but so far could only come up with 7 natural dog foods that I can truly recommend – So here is my list – and please note, it’s only my opinion – I’m sure there are other great quality dog foods out there that perhaps I’ve missed, and if so, please post your comments below and list your favorite healthy dog foods. Here are mine (roughly, but not necessarily exactly, in order of preference) :
Best Dog Foods Ranked 1 to 7
1. Life’s Abundance dog food
2. Honest Kitchen dog food
3. Wysong dog food
4. Nature’s Variety dog food
5. Flint River Ranch dog food
6. Timberwolf dog food (also known as Timberwolf Organics) – NO LONGER RECOMMENDED. Since writing this post, it has come to my attention that this company is associated with the infamous Menu Foods company, and not only that, it is attempting to hide that fact rather than be upfront about it. See the comments below for further info.
7. Sojos dog food (also known as Sojourner Farms) – NO LONGER ACTIVELY RECOMMENDED due to problems that you can read about in the comments section here (which involve apparent similar attempts to hide facts from the public). I understand that the problem that existed has been fixed, and the food IS currently of excellent quality, but I was very disappointed by the lack of transparency exhibited by the owners of Sojos.
Click on any of the above links for more info on these natural dog foods.
Let me know what you think!
(and please note that some of these brands have canned food options. I do not personally like canned food at all, and do not recommend the canned food varieties of the above foods).
So there you have it – my best dog foods ranked!