Dry Dog Food Comparison
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Dry Dog Food Buying Guide
What is a Dry Dog Food?With all of the choices available on the market today for dry dog food, it’s a wonder anyone can tell which ones are good and which ones just might have better advertising budgets. While some pet owners will just grab whatever dry dog food is the cheapest, the majority of them want to find a high quality dog food that will not only taste good to their pets but be good for them as well.
So what is the best way to sort through all the brands and types of dry dog food on the market and choose one that is good for your dog? The key is in the ingredients. What is in the dog food that you serve to your dog is of utmost importance when it comes to the benefits they get from that food.
Things to Avoid in a Dry Food
There are many ingredients that are common place in lower quality dry dog foods that should really be avoided if you want to serve your pet the healthiest food you can. We’ve listed these ingredients to avoid below but get into the habit of reading the ingredient labels when you are looking for dry dog foods or any other food for your pet.
A general rule of thumb you can bank on is the longer the ingredient list is the more chance you have to encounter so of these “avoid” ingredients below.
Animal By-Products – Pet owners might see “animal by products” and think their dogs are getting meat, but this is not the case. Meat by-products by definition are things like feet, necks, hooves, hair, and horns. There is no nutritional value to these by products at all and they can cause digestive upset and other issues as well.
Corn – Corn is nothing but filler and has no business in a dry dog food. It has no nutritional value to the dog and is typically used for bulk.
Soy – Soy is another product that doesn’t belong in a meat eater’s diet. It is estrogenic and can really mess with your dog’s endocrine system.
Artificial Colors, Flavors, Sweeteners and Preservatives – Ingredients such as BHT, BHA, Propyl Gallate, and Ethoxyquin are not good for your dog at all, so if these are in the ingredient list, pass over that food. If the dry dog food claims to contain fish, make sure that it says NO artificial preservatives.
Unidentified Meat – A dry dog food that contains meat should list the source of the meat and not generics. Even if the dog food claims to have meat in it, if all it says is “meat, poultry or animal” move on to another food.
Grains – In general, grains are added to dry dog food to hold the kibble together and because it is cheaper than meat. Since dogs are meat eaters, having a dry dog food with a lot of grains doesn’t make much sense from a nutritional standpoint. Brown rice is okay but should not be the predominant ingredient in the food.
The First Five Ingredients are the Most Important
As we stated above, the longer the ingredient list is the worse off the nutritional value will typically be. You want to find dry dog foods that have excellent ingredients in the top 5 positions of the ingredient list. What ingredients do you look for? We have them outlined below.
Meat, Meat and more Meat – Dogs are carnivores by nature. In the wild meat is their predominant food source and when fed a meat based diet, domestic dogs will thrive as well. You want to look for words like “Chicken, Turkey, Buffalo, Lamb, etc” the meat source that is in the dry dog food you are considering should be identified. Not with “by product” added after it. Many of the high quality dog foods that are on the market have deboned chicken, deboned turkey, buffalo and other real meat as the number one ingredient. This is very preferable when it comes to being a great contender.
Chicken or Turkey Meal – Chicken meal or turkey meal is another good protein source that is preferable in a quality dog food. The best choices have meal listed as a 2nd ingredient rather than a 1st one. There is a difference between chicken meal and chicken by product so don’t confuse the two. Remember: if it says “by product” leave it alone.
Brown Rice – This is a whole grain and not bad for dogs at all as long as it is not the predominant ingredient. Grain free choices are much better for the dog’s digestive system and health but if you want to get one with grains, just make sure it is brown rice.
Whole Fruits and Vegetables – Some of the higher quality dry dog foods list vegetable and fruits in their ingredient list. This is fine and even better if they are in the 3rd and 4th position on the ingredient list. If they replace grains in the dry dog food, that’s even better.
The Ideal Dry Food at a Glance
So what would the ideal dry dog food consist of? Look for as much of the following to be “ticked off” the list as possible when comparing dry dog foods.
- High in quality meat such as beef, chicken, turkey, lamb or buffalo
- Fresh cut vegetables and fruits
- High moisture content
- Good levels of animal fat (make sure the animal is identified such as chicken fat, beef fat, etc)
- No grains
- No heavy doses of other starches
- No artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
- No by-products of any kind
- No corn, soy or gluten
It may sound like a difficult to find list but our top rated dry dog foods meet the criteria and others do as well, you just have to take the time to look at those labels. It is worth it to see the exceptional health your dog will be in after eating an excellent quality dog food.
Dog Life Stages
There are different life stages throughout a dog’s life and that will vary depending on the dog’s breed and what activity level they have. Regardless of the age of your dog, you want to make sure they are getting the appropriate nutrients for their stage of life.
Puppy – This stage encompasses all dogs under 1 year of age. You want to make sure that your puppy is getting the proper balance of fats and proteins as well as fiber. They grow so fast during this first year so you want to ensure that the dry dog food they’re eating will help them grow at a steady, healthy rate and not too fast or too slow. This will also ensure good bone and joint development.
Adult – From 1 to about 6 years of age is considered the adult stage. You don’t want your dog to gain too much weight, so make sure the dry dog food you feed them has good protein to fat ratios that match their activity levels.
Senior – Above 6 years old your dog has entered the “senior” stage. They need less protein and fat but increased fiber needs to maintain a healthy weight. In many senior foods, glucosamine is added to help with joint health.
Performance or Active – if you have a hunting dog, police dog or other working dog, they will have additional nutrient needs such as added protein, fat and antioxidants which will help them maintain their work load and proper body conditioning. Just like an athlete requires more calories, a working dog does as well.
Weight Management – If your dog weighs more than your vet recommends they may need a weight management food. This type of food has lower fat and protein levels and may have increased fiber to help them still feel full while they are slimming down. As long as the ingredients are still pure, a weight management dry dog food is fine. Read those labels.
What your dog eats will directly affect their health all through their lives. You may notice that on high quality food such as our top rated choices in this review that your dog suffers from less health problems, skin problems and digestive problems as well. It is a proven fact that a dog fed a high quality food will live longer and be more energetic than if they are just fed whatever is on sale that week.
With the information you have learned in this buyer’s guide you will be able to read the ingredient labels on the dry dog food you look at and know what you are reading and what to avoid.
It’s not as difficult as it may first seem, and with practice you’ll be an expert at picking out the unhealthy ingredients in the different foods you take a look at. You may find it very fascinating to look at some of the popular brand name dry dog foods on your local store’s shelves. You may be very surprised at what is actually in them.
- Wellness Complete – http://www.wellnesspetfood.com/index.aspx
- Wellness CORE – http://www.wellnesspetfood.com/index.aspx
- Blue Buffalo – http://bluebuffalo.com/for-dogs/