Well the ones that are not the best we mostly already know and that’s the cheaper products that bring the price down by using fillers like corn and more meat by products than actual meat. It would suggest in theory that the good ones are the expensive ones, and although much of that holds true, it’s more important to go by what is written on the packet or tin. The ingredients tell all.
Read the Label
When considering the quality of the ingredients, it’s important to know that the ingredients that there is most of is what is listed first. So if it says chicken as a first ingredient, you’re on to a good start. If it says chicken meal it’s not such a bad start either. Lamb is a great first choice also as it’s believed these are the best meats for a dog’s digestive system.
If we are going to judge it in human terms we would say chicken is best as opposed to chicken meal. Chicken meal is most of the carcass rendered. Chicken, if it says chicken it would be nearer to the standard we eat. That’s because we don’t eat guts.
But guts are good for dogs and it’s the main course to any dog in the wild that makes a kill. Therefore chicken meal is a great first choice for a dog on the ingredients list. They thrive on guts. Chicken meal is also meat
Ingredients to Avoid
Animal by-products and meat meal is not of the same caliber as chicken meal. That can be many other sources of meat, even rendered euthanized pets. Poultry meal, again best avoided as it’s a wide definition so look for chicken and turkey as opposed to poultry.
Animal fats are often added by the lesser quality dog foods and used as a way to flavor dog food and make it tastier for dogs. That does not make it good, if It does not say animal fats on the label, that’s good.
Fillers are added to make a dog feel full but have little nutritional benefit to a dog and not easily digestible. A small amount is ok but if it’s high up the list, it could suggest the food is rather filled out by these products and compromise nutritional quality.
So look for corn and wheat and rice in high quantity and try and avoid. A little brown rice is fine and some add vegetables and even fruits. This is fine as long as the main ingredient is quality meat like lamb or chicken. Some brands even promote the virtue of fruit and vegetables in dog food. As long as they are not using it too much to bulk up the product.
Here is a more comprehensive guide of things to avoid in dog foods from the Dog Food Project and advice on the additives to look for that you don’t want to see in a good dog food brand.
The opinions of others can be relevant but consistency in praise is what you are looking for. Try to find reviews that list the ingredients of the brands they are reviewing, as so much information is in these lists of ingredients.
A good review that not only lists ingredients, but has a review for many brands is Dog Food Advisor. They have an A to Z guide of all the brands as well as wet, dry and raw dog food reviews. This is a useful pointer towards selecting the best dog food brands.
The best dog food for you is one that agrees with your dog’s system, has him passing regular healthy stools and his general coat condition and the gleam in his eye should tell you if it agrees with him or not.
Here at Natural News, they give an account of the dog food industry and inform you of things you never knew about dog food. They have information about chemicals and other additives in dog food to look out for and avoid. More concise information on dog food and its contents can be found on Pet Advisor.
Some reviews and experts can seem a little alarmist and much is made of subjects such as human grade meat when in fact a dog would probably prefer the innards rather than best breast of chicken so don’t be led too much by reviewers that rate dog food as if it was for humans. (That actually reminds me of a review I read about the Dogtra e-collars where a reviewer was really subjective and had not really checked forums etc. but that is another story).
Remember dogs are not humans and dog food is not something to compare with our own best cuts of meat. also just because a brand is veterinarian approved does not mean it’s a great brand. Try and keep it simple when judging dog food brands and always be guided by ingredients.