Our Most Complete Guide On Dog Food (What To Feed A Dog, What Food Is Best, & Other Considerations)

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There’s a lot of information about dog food to read through online

We wanted to make things simpler and easier, and put together one refined/summary guide that outlines some of the most important and foundational information about dog food for all (new and existing) dog owners to consider.

We’ve separated it into six parts:

– Understanding every dog is different and has individual requirements when it comes to dog food diets 

– TL;DR – What might be the essential information to know about picking a dog food?

– More detailed information, and additional considerations on analysing and picking dog foods

– Common factors that might impact the quality of ingredients in dog food

– Ways the dog/pet food industry might improve safety, quality & it’s transparency

– Other information about various aspects of dog food (not necessarily related to picking dog food, but aspects such as different dog food types, and more)

Let’s take a look …

 

(NOTE – this guide contains general information only. It does not contain any professional advice, and is not a substitute for professional advice. Speak to a qualified veterinarian or animal professional about the health of your pet/s, and specifically about your pet/s diet and feeding)

 

Our Most Complete Guide On Dog Food, & What To Feed Your Dog

 

All Dogs Are Different, & Have Individual Requirements

All dogs are different in their feeding and dietary requirements.

This is because all dogs have different factors that are relevant to just them.

The food you feed your dog, and how much food you feed them, might be influenced by factors such as:

Age

Life stage (puppy, adult, senior, etc.)

Existing, or at risk health conditions (determined in part by the individual dog, or genetics)

Breed

Body composition and size (small, medium, extra large, giant)

Gender (whether neutered or not)

Whether they are pregnant, sick, or there are other health related or physical factors at play

How much exercise they get

 

Your dog’s vet is well placed to recommend a diet, and dog food feeding plan for your dog, as they are generally aware of these factors and have the expertise in regards to dog health and nutrition.

You can read a guide we put together here about what various vets from around the internet have said about choosing the best dog food.

Additionally, commercial dog foods are usually reasonably well labelled in countries like the US and Australia in terms of specifying the life stage (puppy, adult, senior, all life stages, and so on) the food is intended for.

As your dog progresses through life from puppy, to adult, to senior, your dog’s vet make recommend changing the formula you feed them.

 

TL;DR – What Might Be The Essential Information To Know?

If we were to put together a checklist of the essentials to consider with dog food, they might be:

 

Look For Food That:

Is nutritionally complete/meets your dog’s complete daily nutritional requirements i.e. the total amount/grams of each macro and micro nutrients they should be getting each day – proteins (high quality meat based), healthy fats and healthy fatty oils and omega fatty acids, carbohydrates (usually from grains or non grain sources like vegetables), vitamins and minerals (iron, copper, calcium, zinc, etc.), and water

Is nutritionally balanced i.e. it contains the right mix/% shares of the major nutrient groups listed above (some sources say to balance especially protein in meat, with a whole cooked grain like brown rice or barley)

Has a high quality, full/whole meat listed as at least the first ingredient (and some sources say to choose a conventional meat over an exotic meat). Dogs might be omnivores with a carnivore bias

Has ingredients that are easily digestible, and easily absorbed by a dog

Comes from a company with no history of recalls, and outlines their ingredient sourcing and production processes

[It may also help if the food is specified as being one of or all of – all natural, certified organic, human grade, meeting AAFCO nutritional requirements (luminer.com lists how a food product can make the claim it’s nutritionally balanced according to what AAFCO requirements), and that the ingredients are sourced and processed locally in the US for example and not in a country with lax ingredient regulations]

 

Be Wary Of Food That:

Has meat by-products, or meat ‘meal’ as the primary ingredient, or the first listed ingredients. By products and meat meal are are considered by some sources as being a rung or two rungs down from real and full meat ingredients. Although, it’s worth noting that meat meal generally has the fat and water content removed, so it’s more concentrated with protein

Has too many highly processed carbs, too many highly processed ingredients, or too many low quality filler ingredients (such as cheap grain, or refined grain)

Has greasy bad fats

Has too many artificial colors, preservatives and other artificial ingredients and additives (like high fructose corn syrup and benzoyl peroxide)

Is very high in sugar, salt or calories per serving

Has ingredients that studies indicate are strongly linked to specific health problems in dogs (for example, according to consumeradvocate.org – on FDA study suggested peas, lentils, potatoes or sweet potatoes, or legumes, along with grain-free formulas, were the top risk factors for canine DCM – a specific dietary link is still being investigated. Determining a causal relationship between diet and DCM is complicated by numerous factors, including the age, health, and breed of the animals in the study)

Might trigger an allergy, intolerance or sensitivities in your dog

Has ingredients or nutrient concentrations that are problematic for your specific dog – for example, large breeds may have specific nutrient requirements, and some dogs may need a low protein diet to minimize their risk of kidney issues

Is a supplemental food only (you don’t want to be feeding a dog supplemental food for a main meal as it doesn’t have the 

Uses marketing words that mean nothing legally (holistic might be one example of one of these words in some countries)

 

In addition to a complete and balance dog food diet, some vets might recommend give an adult dog a raw, uncooked, meaty, large bone once a week.

As mentioned above, if all this sounds complicated and overwhelming, your dog’s vet is who you can speak to for a quick and simple expert opinion on the food and feeding schedule suitable for your dog/s. They can also help you with topics such as transitioning to new dog foods, and how to do that, if required.

There are pet and dog nutrition companies that specialize in either direct pet diet advising to veterinary practices, pet owners and pet food manufacturers, or support to vets.

You will want to check each company’s certifications, and that they are suitably qualified for the services they provide before you engage with them.

Some companies employ qualified vets that specifically focus on pet nutrition.

 

One example of a dog food that is human grade, and processed in the USA is:

You can read a review guide on The Honest Kitchen Dog Food here.

 

More Detailed Information, and Additional Considerations

Additional information and things you may want to consider about dog food are:

 

– Do Your Own Research

Go to the manufacturer’s website if buying commercial dog food, and don’t be afraid to contact customer service and ask additional questions.

Look at things such as the manufacturing process, where ingredients are sourced from (the country, and the standards adhered to), whether qualified PhD veterinary and nutritional science experts are employed to help develop the formula, and so on.

You might also look at things such as what % of the total weight of the food each ingredient makes up.

You can also read the product label and packaging, read other customer reviews, speak to other pet owners, and speak to a vet.

 

– Be Aware Of Potentially Undesirable Ingredients

Such as some meat and bone meals over real and full quality meats, offal, animal digest, sucrose and/or fructose, animal by products, low quality grain fillers, highly processed ingredients, artificial ingredients, and so on.

 

– Complete List Of Ingredients

Hard to pronounce ingredients or ingredients with long complicated names may be a red flag.

Although it looks good for marketing purposes – an extended list of trace ingredients like vitamins and minerals in the food can often be for advertising purposes, and might not provide any significant benefit for a dog.

 

– Cost Effective

How cost effective is the food for you to buy? Is it affordable.

You may not want to buy food that is too cheap if you’re sacrificing quality and healthy ingredients.

 

– Storage

How easy is it to store, and how long does it last in storage?

Wet food in cans can have a relatively long shelf life

Dry food in packets can last a few months when sealed

 

– Water Content 

What is the water content of the food?

Wet food is notorious for a higher water content

Water content may not be a bad thing as long as the food still contains enough nutrition for your dog (it can actually be a good way of ensuring your dog is staying relatively hydrated)

But, you may want to steer clear of foods with very high water contents, as it leaves less room for nutrients in the food

 

– Understand That Each Country Has Different Regulations, Standards, & Labelling Requirements For Pet Food

Pet food generally doesn’t have it’s own specific and  enforceable regulations in any country.

There are general regulations for animal food in some countries.

In the US for example, ‘The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled’ (fda.gov)

There’s also a voluntary membership association called AAFCO that outlines some standards in the US.

In Australia, Pet food is essentially self-regulated with voluntary industry standards applied through the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) (kb.rspca.org.au)

In different countries, regulations, standards and labelling requirements can differ.

So, be aware of what these are, and where the gaps and limitations in them might be.

You will be required to do additional research to ensure what you are getting in each pet food product, and cover information you might not get given on a label.

 

– Understand That The Perfect Commercial Dog Food May Not Exist

You may come up with a custom diet plan for your dog/s developed in conjunction with your dog’s vet, that contains natural and fresh ingredients, and it may be very healthy for your dog.

But, when it comes to mass produced commercial dog food, a perfect product may not (yet) exist.

There’s currently a lack of standard enforced regulations for pet food in many countries, which impacts things such as identifying whether meat comes from a sick or diseased animal (bad meats may also mean meat that doesn’t pass human inspection, and/or contains animal antibiotics and hormones), preventing ingredients linked to specific health conditions and problems being included in formulas, and so on.

At the moment, there may be some food products that might be better than others, but there might not be a perfect one.

There’s certainly a lot of room for improvement in providing healthier, safer and higher quality pet foods in the industry.

 

– Puppies and Senior Dogs Might Have Their Own Feeding Requirements

Read more about feeding a puppy or senior dog in this guide by medicanimal.com

We’ve also written here about potential consideration for feeding a puppy

 

– Research Brands & Products That Have Been Recalled In The Past

You’ll be able to see the reasons, and how often it’s happened. Poor fillers, poor meats, and so on have been some of the reasons

 

– Other Notes

All dogs are omnivores with a carnivore bias, but dogs can metabolize starches and carbs (unlike wolves)

Proteins can vary in quality, composition and digestibility

Excess protein can might lead to increased risk of health issues like obesity, or kidney issues

Carbs generally come from plant-based ingredients such as peas, potatoes, squash, carrots, as well as fruits and a number of other vegetables. 

Grain free means no wheat, rice or corn, but grain free might be overhyped. Quality grains like quality whole grains (over refined grains) can be digested by dogs and provide them with nutrients. Grain sensitivities and problems might be rarer than reported. Although, low quality grains (like cheap corn grains) and flours may cause issues with energy levels, obesity, etc. Additionally, some dogs may experience issues with gluten in some grains

Some very cheap dog foods might use low quality ingredients and might have lower energy values, lower grade protein, more filler ingredients, and might be be sub-optimal for digestion, absorption and overall health

In relation to preservatives, Petmd says you might choose to limit artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, in favor of natural preservatives like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and plant based preservatives like rosemary in the dog food you buy. The trade off obviously is that natural preservatives don’t keep the dog food from going off for as long.

In some countries, labelling requirements might stipulate that ingredients have to be listed in descending order by weight – so, the first few ingredients listed might make up majority of the weight of the food. 

Some general contaminants to look out for in pet food might be mycotoxins, and also salmonella (bacterial contamination can be a concern for saw raw food diets)

It may be worth double checking the level of mercury in your dog’s food

Some ingredients like avocado and garlic can be risky for dogs

Interestingly, consumersadvocate.org mentions that ‘most researchers and veterinary associations agree that carbs should actually make up a larger percentage of a dog’s diet than animal-based proteins, though this changes as dogs get older’

You can usually get pet food from online sellers, from pet shops, from supermarkets, or from a vet

 

The Sources For The Three Main Parts Of The Guide Above Are:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_food

2. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-food-feeds/pet-food

3. https://www.medicanimal.com/8-FAQs-about-different-types-of-dog-food/a/ART111513

4. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/how-is-the-pet-food-industry-regulated-in-australia/

5. https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/ideal-dog-food/

6. https://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/jcoates/2012/dec/natural-artificial-preservatives-in-dog-foods-29523

7. https://www.consumersadvocate.org/dog-food

8. https://www.luminer.com/articles/pet-food-nutrition-labeling-survey/

9. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/different-types-of-diets-for-dogs

 

Common Factors That Might Impact The Quality Of Ingredients In Dog Food

Below, we list some common factors that might impact the quality of ingredients in commercial dog food products and formulas.

 

1. Where The Ingredients Are Sourced

Different countries have different regulations on what can be used as pet food ingredients.

Some countries have higher regulations and standards for quality of ingredients than others.

Making sure the ingredients are sourced from a country with higher standards for ingredients can mean they are higher quality – such as having higher quality meats and proteins, and so on.

Some dog foods are sourced from ingredients 100% in the US as one example.

 

2. How The Food Is Processed, Manufactured & Packed

Once ingredients have been sourced, the dog food needs to be processed, manufactured and packed.

Different dog foods might be cooked, processed and packed in different kitchens and facilities, and to different standards.

A food with higher processing and manufacturing standards for hygiene, safety and quality might be better.

Some think that dog foods processed to human grade standard are a good start (as opposed to those foods that use feed grade ingredients).

 

3. How The Company Develops Their Formula/Food  

There has to be a basis for why a company develops and produces their food in a certain way and composition.

It can help if the company employs people qualified to determine what might be a nutritionally adequate and balanced formula – such as vets, and pet food nutritional experts and scientists.

This information might be obtained by the company website, or from customer service.

 

4. The Macronutrients & Micronutrients In The Food

A good quality dog food should ideally have the right balance and quantities of protein, carbs, fats, and vitamins and minerals.

Different foods may have different macro and micronutrient profiles.

The guaranteed nutritional analysis on the label, as well as the individual ingredients on the ingredient list, can provide a good starting point for know what. 

 

5. The Amount Of Artificial Additives, Preservatives Etc. In The Food

Some sources indicate that fresh foods, and foods containing more whole natural ingredients might be better than heavily chemically altered foods when it comes to quality.

 

6. Whether Ingredients Linked To Dog Health Conditions Are Included

Elsewhere is this overall guide, we’ve mentioned ingredients that might be linked to dog health conditions.

The less of these ingredients in a dog food, the better it might be.

 

7. Whether The Dog Food Suits An Individual/Specific Dog

Different dogs at different life stages, and with different health considerations, may each have different factors that determine what is a ‘quality’ food for them.

A vet can give an owner a professional opinion on the food and diet that might suit an individual dog.

 

Further Notes On Dog Food

An important consideration with dog food is that companies might be able to make foods cheaper to low income groups by sourcing certain ingredients, or substituting different ingredients in their formulas.

If standards and ingredient quality is raised, the question this raises is if it also raises price – higher quality foods tend to cost more.

 

Ways The Dog/Pet Food Industry Might Improve Safety, Quality & It’s Transparency

Without doing a lot of reading, the average dog owner might not know that the dog food industry might have several areas for improvement.

Below we list a few ways that general safety, quality and transparency in the industry might be improved.

 

1. Improved General Regulations 

If we take the United States for example, the FDA has regulations in place for animal food.

‘The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled’ (fda.gov)

There’s also AAFCO which is a voluntary membership association – ‘charged by their local, state or federal laws to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies’.

AAFCO standards might relate to proper nutrients, and the FDA’s regulations might relate to safe food, food that isn’t contaminated and truthful labelling.

However, dogsnaturallymagazine.com and various other publishers note that regulations and standards still have several loopholes and limitations.

Some of these loopholes and limitations might include:

No need to have some claims backed by scientific data (i.e. some terms used on labelling are purely marketing and don’t mean anything specific)

The manufacturer might not have to distinguish between feed grade and human grade ingredients and meats

It can be hard to determine if meat has been inspected and approved at a certain facility

It can be hard to determine whether the meat comes from a diseased or sick animal

+ more

 

Better general regulations on pet food might clear up some of these loopholes and limitations.

A few relevant resources to read more about this might include:

 

2. More Detailed Information Available On How, & Where The Food Is Manufactured & Processed

With some dog foods, it can be hard to tell:

Where exactly the food was manufactured and processed – which country, and in what facilities

How the food was manufactured and processed – the protocols, processes, standards, and so on

 

More information on these processes and the manufacturing can provide more clues as to the quality of the food, and also exactly the standards for how it’s been made.

 

3. More Detailed Information On The Individual Ingredients

Beyond the manufacturing and processing of a given dog food, the individual ingredients used are important.

Different countries have different regulations and standards on ingredients used – this can impact the quality of the ingredients in the final product.

Not all dog food brands source and process their ingredients in the US for example – some might source overseas and process in the US, or do both overseas.

 

4. Better Understanding Of Labelling By Owners

Many owners are unaware of how to interpret labelling properly.

More information for owners on how to interpret labels, along with simpler and easier to understand labelling could help with this.

Understanding words used on the packaging (what they mean), and how to interpret ingredient lists, as well as what different standard and regulation guarantees might mean may also help. 

 

5. Better Overall Nutrition In Dog Foods, & Less ‘Fake’ Foods 

Dogsnaturallymagazine.com mentions how many kibbles might be highly processed, contain synthetic vitamins, and might be incomplete and unbalanced nutritionally

Low income dog owners still need affordable diets for their dogs, but there might need to be more thought on how this can be achieved without sacrificing nutrition as much.

Using fresher foods and ingredients might be one way, but, the practicality of that (other than from homemade diets – which can have risks and concerns without consulting a vet) can be an issue.

 

6. More Conclusive Studies On How Different Ingredients Impact Dog Health, Or Are Linked To Health Problems

Dogs aren’t humans, so it isn’t a surprise that different foods and ingredients might impact dogs differently than humans.

There can still be more studies, and more conclusive studies done

One example is how different ingredients might increase the risk of DCM in dogs.

 

Other Potential Areas For Improvement

Foodsafetynews.com has outlined some other ways pet food might be made safer in this guide.

 

Other Notes On Dog Food Quality, Safety & Transparency

Nbcnews.com mentions:

… meat, bone meal or meat byproducts could come from any animal. Similarly, “poultry meal” signals any bird

 

Rd.com mentions:

Meat by-products can be a good, safe, or adequate source of nutrition or unsafe for your pet to consume … It all depends upon what’s in the by-product and how it was processed

That info isn’t usually on the label, so it’s best to call the customer care number for the manufacturer to ask. 

 

According to wikipedia.org:

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), animal by-products in pet food may include parts obtained from any animals that have died from sickness or disease, provided they are rendered in accordance to law

Proteins can differ in quality, composition and digestibility

[They also mention the potential issues to do with pet food labelling]

 

Abc.net.au:

[Understand the pet standards and regulations in your country]

Understand the difference between meat, meat by-product. and meat meal

 

Both consumersadvocate.org and luminer.com have good resources listed below that outline issues to do with dog food. A summary of a few of them include:

Not all meats are equal

Recalls have happened for some brands, and not all owners are aware of them

Federal guidelines on ingredients and labelling might be lax and outdated, and aggressive industry lobbying can keep the status quo

The overwhelming majority of dog food formulas either contain DCM-linked ingredients or have a meal rather than meat within the top three ingredients

90-plus percent of dog foods are either nutritionally unsound, potentially unsafe, or contain ingredients that may cause a dogs’ hearts to enlarge

The FDA concludes its report by saying that it is “continuing to investigate and gather more information in an effort to identify whether there is a specific dietary link to development of DCM and will provide updates to the public as information develops.”

At issue is the fact that determining a causal relationship between diet and DCM is complicated by numerous factors, including the age, health, and breed of the animals in the study

Everything you read in the ingredients and nutrition facts sections on dog food packaging is regulated by the FDA, though these regulations are woefully inadequate, with loopholes large enough to drive a dog sled through. The FDA oversees every step of pet food safety from raw material sourcing to production, to the language used to describe every ingredient, to how that ingredient’s nutritional value is calculated. … these regulations have some rather disconcerting weaknesses.

 

Sources

1. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/pet-food-regulations-dont-protect-dogs/ 

2. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-food-nutrition/

3. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/12/pet-food-safety-10-ways-to-make-it-better/

4. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-food-feeds/pet-food

5. https://www.aafco.org/

6. https://www.nbcnews.com/shopping/home-and-kitchen/best-dog-food-n1189551

7. https://www.rd.com/list/vets-want-you-to-know-about-dog-food/

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_food

9. https://www.abc.net.au/life/how-to-choose-the-right-food-for-your-dog/10182746

10. https://www.consumersadvocate.org/dog-food

11. https://www.luminer.com/articles/pet-food-nutrition-labeling-survey/

 

Onto part six of the guide (different aspects and factors to do with dog food) …

 

7 Main Types Of Dog Food

In addition to the following types of dog food, there’s many other ways you can categorise dog food such as commercial vs non commercial, just as one example.

There’s also all the different types of dog food diets to choose from.

But, the main types of dog food are:

 

1. Dry Dog Food/Kibble

A dry type of commercial dog food, that comes in small pellets

Economical/affordable and convenient

Has a long shelf life, and doesn’t need to be refrigerated

Some say it also helps in keeping a dog’s teeth clean

A few different types of kibble food are extruded, baked, and coated

 

A popular dry dog food at the moment is:

 

2. Canned/Wet Dog Food

A wet commercial dog food that comes in cans

High water content

Can be more expensive per meal than dry dog food

Can be higher in sodium, and higher in calories than dry food

Is soft, so can be good for dogs that need a softer dog food

 

A popular canned/wet dog food option at the moment is:

 

3. Semi Moist Dog Food

Somewhere in between dry and wet dog food

One of the main features of semi moist dog food is that it has a water content somewhere in between canned and dry dog food 

It can come in a packets, pouches and other packaging

 

A popular semi moist dog food at the moment is:

 

4. Homemade Dog Food

Some people choose to feed dogs themselves from their own ingredients and foods that they buy.

This is usually done with the advice and approval of a vet, so the owner can be sure they are giving their dog food that is safe, and that also has the proper nutrition.

 

5. Raw Dog Food

A diet consisting of raw meat, and raw meaty (uncooked) animal bones.

Some think that because of a dog’s digestive system, raw diets are best.

Once again, people usually get their vet’s approval and advice before putting their dog on a raw diet.

Raw diets can either be custom store purchased, or come in a commercial pre packaged option.

 

6. Dehydrated & Freeze Dried  Dog Food

A newer commercial food

Raw or mildly cooked before being dehydrated and packaged

Might retain more nutrients than kibble or wet food

You have to add water to them before serving them

 

7. Treats, Toppers & Other (Complementary, Or Supplementary Dog Foods)

There’s also other supplementary or complementary types of food such as dog treats, toppers, and so on.

These foods can be fed to dogs alongside or in addition to their main food meals.

 

Sources

1. https://blog.homesalive.ca/types-of-dog-food

2. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/food/which-is-the-best-type-of-dog-food/

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_food

 

Common Types Of Dog Diets

The diet types listed below are generic and used as general examples only.

A vet or qualified animal health expert should approve and give advice on an individual dog’s diet.

They can make sure your dog’s diet both has adequate nutrition, and is tailored to an individual dog’s health requirements.

 

1. Commercial Dog Food Diet

A diet consisting mainly of dog food commercially available, such as kibble, canned/wet food, semi moist food, and so on.

As one example, an owner might decide to feed their dog mainly a high quality kibble as it may be both reasonably nutritious, and economical.

 

2. Homemade Dog Food Diet

A diet consisting mainly of non commercial dog foods.

Might contain mainly individual ingredients like lean meats, or vegetables bought from a supermarket.

 

3. Hybrid Dog Food Diet

This type of diet might consist of a mix of commercially available dog food, and some types of human food.

For example, it might be common for owners to feed their dog mainly kibble for their main meal, but also leftover safe and cooked meats, and other dog safe leftover foods for random meals, as well as uncooked meaty bones.

 

4. Raw Dog Food Diet

A diet consisting mainly of raw food such as raw meats, and raw meaty uncooked bones.

 

5. Puppy Food Diet

A diet formulated specifically for the needs of puppies and young dogs.

There are commercially available dog foods that are formulated specifically for the nutritional requirements of dogs at the puppy stage.

A puppy food diet might be geared more towards protein and growth, as opposed to maintenance.

Some puppy foods may also be softer in texture.

One of the most popular products listed as puppy food online right now is:

 

Another is:

 

6. Adult Dog Food Diet

A diet formulated for adult dogs.

It might be more focussed on maintenance, compared to a puppy diet focussed on growth.

One of the most popular products listed as adult dog food online right now is:

 

7. Senior Dog Food Diet

A diet formulated specifically for nutritional needs of older/senior dogs. They might be lower in calories just as one example.

There are commercially available ‘Senior Dog’ dog foods.

 

8. Food Diet For Dogs With Allergies & Sensitivities (Hypoallergenic Diet)

Some dogs might be allergic or sensitive to certain ingredients in dog food.

Commercial hypoallergenic dog foods might be formulated specifically to include simple and reduced ingredients, and reduce nutrients known to commonly cause sensitivities or reactions.

Ultimately though, you’ll want to talk to a vet if you notice your dog reacting in a negative way to dog food. They might help you do an elimination diet or tests to see what a dog can and can’t eat.

 

10. Vegetarian Or Vegan Dog Food Diet

A meatless dog food diet.

A vegetarian or vegan dog food diet should definitely be run past a vet first.

There is the option to buy commercially formulated vegan or vegetarian dog food products, or do the homemade option.

Digestibility might be one of the issues with non meat based diets.

 

11. Grain Free Dog Food Diet

Some dog food experts suggest that grains or too much grains (such as wheat, corn, rice, and so on) in a dog food diet may contribute to skin issues, lack of energy, and other health issues for dogs.

A grain free diet might still provide carbohydrates, but from natural non-grain based ingredients.

One of the most popular listed grain free dog foods online right now is:

 

12. Meat First Dog Food Diet

Some diets encourage owners to look for a meat being listed as the first ingredient, and the primary ingredient in a commercially bought dog food, such as kibble.

 

13. Dog Diet For Health Conditions

There’s a whole list of diets and foods that might be suggested by a vet for dogs with different health conditions.

Just as one example, a low protein diet may be suggested for dogs dealing with kidney issues.

 

Dehydrated Dog Food

Below, we take a look at dehydrated dog food.

We look at what it is, and what some of the most popular brands right now might be.

 

What Is Dehydrated Dog Food?

Dehydrated dog food might have the following features:

Minimal processing

High bioavailability of nutrients

Gentle heating of ingredients

Goes through a dehydration/drying process to remove the moisture and air from the food 

 

Potential Benefits Of Dehydrated Dog Food

Some potential benefits for dehydrated food might include:

Locks in nutrients

Discourages the growth of bacteria and pathogens in the food (especially compared to raw food)

Preserves the food for a long time – good to store, and might not need as many preservatives

Isn’t as messy as raw food

Is convenient compared to other diets such as homemade diets

Might be less processed than wet food, but have some of the similar benefits

Can be cheaper than traditional dry and wet foods

 

A few of the drawbacks of dehydrated dog food might be that you need to wait for rehydration to fully take place (once you’ve added water), and, the appearance, taste and texture of some dehydrated foods (when hydrated again) may be slightly different than some expect in some cases (depending on the brand).

 

Should You Feed Your Dog Dehydrated Food?

Your dog’s vet is qualified to recommend a diet and dog food that might suit your dog.

There’s more than one factor to consider to decide a) whether dehydrated dog food is suitable for your dog, and b) if so, what dehydrated dog food might be best.

As a general rule, dog food should be balanced and complete nutritionally, and should suit the health requirements of the individual dog.

 

Dehydrated vs Freeze Dried Dog Food

Dehydrated and freeze dried dog foods are very similar in that they both start from raw ingredients, and are dryed. They have similar consistencies.

They are different though in the way they are dried – dehydrated uses warm air, whereas freeze dried is frozen, and then low heat.

Some sources say dehydrated dog food might retain slightly less nutrients than freeze dryed dog food.

 

Popular Dehydrated Dog Food Products & Brands

A popular dehydrated dog food product is:

 

Sources

1. https://petcentral.chewy.com/dehydrated-dog-food-vs-homemade-dog-food/#:~:text=What%20Is%20Dehydrated%20Pet%20Food,same%20consistency%20as%20freeze%2Ddried.&text=The%20lack%20of%20moisture%20in,having%20to%20add%20any%20preservatives.

2. https://www.thehonestkitchen.com/blog/benefits-of-raw-vs-dehydrated-pet-foods/

3. https://www.k9magazine.com/what-is-dehydrated-dog-food-is-it-good-for-dogs/

4. https://www.pawfriendly.com/petcare/dehydrated-dog-food.shtml#.XyucUhMzb8M

5. https://familypet.com/what-are-the-proscons-of-feeding-dehydrated-dog-food/

 

Vegan Dog Food

Vegan dog foods generally contain no animal or dairy products.

Prior to feeding a dog a vegan food diet, speak to a vet for their assessment and approval, and get their professional opinion.

 

Popular Vegan Dog Food Products

 

Reviews/Summaries Of Vegan Dog Food Products

Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

Food Details

A dry vegan and vegetarian dog food balanced in nutrition for adult dogs of all breeds

Made with no animal or dairy products

No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Includes the same essential nutrients found in diets with meat

Includes complex carbohydrates and protein from peas

Includes energy from rice, oatmeal, and highly-digestible potatoes

Supports healthy skin & shiny coat with Balanced Omega-3 & Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Comes in 3 sizes – 4.5 lbs, 14 lbs, and 28 lbs

Natural Balance does 9 safety tests on every batch of food and treats, and makes tests available on their website

Ingredients include Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Peas, Potato Protein, Canola Oil, Potatoes, Tomato Pomace, Vegetable Flavoring, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Natural Mixed Tocopherols, Spinach, Parsley Flakes, Cranberries, L-Lysine, L-Carnitine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Kelp, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin D-2 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed analysis is Moisture 10% max, Protein 18% min, Fat 8% min, Fiber 5% max, Omega 3 0.30% min, Omega 6 1.5% min, Calories 3480 kcal/kg 365 kcal/cup

View Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food on Amazon

 

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Wet Dog Food, Vegetarian

Food Details

A wet vegetarian and vegan dog food for adult dogs of all breeds

Made with no animal or dairy products

No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Includes the same essential nutrients found in diets with meat

Includes complex carbohydrates and protein from peas

Includes energy from rice, oatmeal, and highly-digestible potatoes

Supports healthy skin & shiny coat with Balanced Omega-3 & Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Natural Balance does 9 safety tests on every batch of food and treats, and makes tests available on their website

Comes in 6 ounce, and 13 ounce cans

You get 12 cans in one pack

Ingredients include Water for processing, Ground Brown Rice, Cracked Barley, Oatmeal, Canola Oil, Carrots, Potato Protein, Tomato Pomace, Fresh Potatoes, Dehydrated Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Peas, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor, Cassia Gum, Carrageenan Gum, Sodium Chloride, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Spinach, Parsley, Cranberries, Zinc Sulfate, Yucca Schidigiera Extract, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Sodium Selenite, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D2 Supplement.

Guaranteed Analysis is Moisture 78% max, Protein 5% min, Fat 3% min, Fiber 2.5% max, 
Calories 1180 kcal/kg 400 kcal/can

View Natural Balance Ultra Premium Wet Dog Food, Vegetarian (on Amazon)

 

V-Dog Vegan Kibble Dry Dog Food

Food Details

A 100% plant based vegan dog food with no animal products

Has human grade ingredients 

Has no Wheat, Corn, Soy, Gluten, Factory Farming, By Products, Fake Stuff, Fillers

Comes in 20lbs and 30lbs bags

Ingredients are Dried Peas, Pea Protein, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Potato Protein, Sorghum, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols) , Natural Flavor, Suncured Alfalfa Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dicalcium Phosphate, Flaxseeds, Millet, Calcium Carbonate, Lentils, Peanut Hearts, Quinoa, Sunflower Chips, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Carrots, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Iodate), Dl-methionine, Dried Parsley, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D2 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hyrdochloride, Biotin, Folic Acid), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (A Source Of Vitamin C), Preserved with Citric Acid, Preserved with mixed Tocopherols, Dried Blueberries, Dried Cranberries, Dried Celery, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lettuce, L-carnitine, Dried Watercress, Dried Spinach, Rosemary Extract.

V Dog is run by a family owned business based in California

Crude protein min 24%, Crude Fat Min 9%, Crude Fiber Max 5%, Moisture Max 10%, Calories 3300 KCAL/KG; 363 KCAL/CUP

View V-Dog Vegan Kibble Dry Dog Food on Amazon

 

Halo Holistic Garden Of Vegan Dry Dog Food For Adult Dogs

Food Details

A holistic vegan dry dog food for adult dogs

No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Has chickpeas, grains, non-GMO vegetables and fruits, and nourishing oils

Contains no rice – the plant based protein comes from lower glycemic peas and chickpeas

Contains no meat, dairy, corn, or wheat

Comes in either a 4lb, or 10lb bag

Ingredients include Non-GMO Green Peas, chickpeas, pearled barley, oat groats, pea protein, whole flaxseed, sunflower oil, dried plain beet pulp, potato, sweet potato, alfalfa meal, dried carrot, celery ,beet , parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dicalcium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, dried kelp, natural vegetable flavors, flaxseed oil, carrots, dried apple, dried, blueberry, dried cranberry, chicory root, taurine, rosemary extract, L-Carnitine, potassium chloride, DL Methionine, salt, calcium carbonate, choline chloride

Vitamins include Vitamin B12 Supplement, niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D-2 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, folic acid

Mineral include Zinc Proteinate, iron proteinate, zinc sulfate, iron sulfate, manganese proteinate

manganese sulfate, cobalt proteinate, copper proteinate, copper sulfate

Guaranteed Analysis is Crude Protein 20% Max, Crude Fat 10% Max, Crude Fiber 8.5% Min, Moisture 10% Min, Omega 3 Fatty Acids 1.75% Max, Omega 6 Fatty Acids 4.25% Max 3,400 kcal /kg; 386 kcal/cup

View Halo Holistic Garden Of Vegan Dry Dog Food For Adult Dogs on Amazon

 

What Is A Vegan Diet?

A diet that contains no products of animal origin.

This differs to a vegetarian diet for example that might include eggs and dairy.

 

Can Dogs Eat A Vegan Diet?

It is certainly possible, but you need to get a vegan diet approved and designed by your dog’s vet before you actually switch over from your dog’s existing diet.

You can read more about vegan diets for dogs in this guide.

 

Vegetarian Dog Food

Before switching from a dog diet including meat, to a vegetarian diet without meat, make sure you get the new diet approved by your dog’s vet first.

The good news is that dogs are omnivores (but some might do better on a primarily meat based diet), so some dogs have already gone vegetarian without any issues.

 

Popular Vegetarian Dog Food Products

*NOTE: The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Veggie, Nut & Seed Base Mix Recipe for Dogs (on Amazon) requires you to add a meat protein when you serve it to your dog so is not a true vegetarian option

 

Reviews & Summaries Of The Vegetarian Dog Food Products

As each of the about vegetarian dog food options are vegan, we already reviewed them (including listing the individual ingredients) in our guide about vegan dog food which you can read here:

 

What Is A Vegetarian Diet?

A diet containing no meat or fish, and sometimes other animal products.

Usually vegetarian diets will include eggs and dairy, whereas vegan diets for example contain no products of animal origin at all.

Examples of vegetarians and vegan diets are:

Vegetarian Diets – Eggs

Vegan – beans, corn, soy and whole grains

 

Can Dogs Eat A Vegetarian Diet?

Vegetarian diets appear to be fine for dogs

Vegan diets might be OK for dogs, but only if you can provide the dog with the same nutrients they would be getting from a vegetarian diet (so it depends on what foods you are restricting)

Ensuring dogs get the protein, calcium and Vitamin D they need from vegetarian and vegan diets is an important consideration

Dogs with certain health conditions or requirements, or at different life stages, may be less suitable for a vegetarian or vegan diet than others

Your dog’s current diet should be vet approved, and before you switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, you should get any new diet or change of food approved by a vet too. A vegetarian or vegan diet may have to be carefully designed by your dog’s vet

Read more in this guide about whether dogs are omnivores, carnivores or herbivores.

 

How Do Dogs Handle Switching From A Meat Based To A Plant Based Diet?

It depends on the dog.

But, some people might find that some dogs may take some time to accept food with no meat in it.

Some vets might suggest you gradually increase the amount of plant based food you feed to your dog in conjunction with their existing meat based food.

So, you may start by making 10% of your dog’s existing meals plant based food, and gradually increase the % over the course of a few weeks.

 

How Do You Decide Whether, & What Vegetarian Or Vegan Food Diet Is Suitable For Your Dog?

As mentioned above, see a vet to determine if a plant based diet is suitable for your dog (they can consider any existing health conditions or requirements your dog has, or how old they are).

They may then suggest to you either, or a mix of, a commercial vegetarian/vegan dog food, and a specifically designed homemade plant based diet.

Any commercial vegan or vegetarian dog food should have been through feeding trials and met the requirements for AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) compliance.

Diets that include eggs or dairy as protein sources might be less risky than diets based only on plant proteins.

 

What Might Be Some Of The Risks Of Feeding Your Dog A Vegetarian Or Vegan Diet?

Some of the potential risks and things to be aware of could be:

– Inadequate total protein intake (less than the 25 grams per 1,000 calories recommended)

– Imbalance of the certain amino acids, such as taurine and L-carnitine (dogs and cats) or essential fatty acids arachidonic acid (cats only), in particular

– Deficiency in vitamins and minerals (such as B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and iron) that are obtained ideally, or only, through meat or other animal products

Over a period of time, low taurine intake can lead to heart issues, as well as reproductive failures, growth failures, and eye problems.

Some vets may also say to never feed vegetarian or vegan diets to dogs you plan to breed.

 

What Might Be Some Potential Reasons Not To Continue Feeding My Dog A Meat Based Diet?

Most dogs are on meat based diets and obviously lead happy and healthy lives.

But, a few areas where meat based diets might fall short compared to plant based diets are:

– Unrendered meat protein in commercial dog food may come from heads, feet, viscera, and other animal parts – all of which U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors have deemed unfit for human consumption

– Meat based commercial dog foods usually have same hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics that are found in commercial meat products for humans

And obviously ethically you may support plant based diets over meat based diets too.

 

Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Below we also look at common FAQ’s such as what limited ingredient dog food might be used for, and the potential benefits and downsides.

Speak to a vet before implementing a limited food dog food diet for your dog.

 

What Is Limited Ingredient Dog Food?

There is no real official definition for limited ingredient dog food in some major countries – the term might 

In general though, a limited ingredient might be based around the following factors:

Have a much shorter list of ingredients used than other dog food products

Might only use one source of meat/protein

Might only use one or a small number of sources of carbohydrates

Might not use ingredients commonly linked to sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies

 

What Are Limited Ingredient Dog Food Products & Diets Used For?

They are generally used for dogs with food sensitivities, allergies and intolerances. 

Just as a few examples, some dogs may have skin sensitivity issues with certain ingredients (itchy or flaky skin for example), or may have problems with gluten in some wheat grains.

 

How Might Limited Ingredient Dog Foods Be Used?

The general way they are used are that neither you nor your dog’s vet may currently know what specific ingredient is causing a sensitivity, allergy or intolerance problem for your dog.

Your dog may be transitioned over to a limited dog food product with the advice of your dog’s vet.

If the problems clear up, the new food may not include any ingredients that are a problem for your dog’s health.

If the problems don’t clear up immediately, there may be a process of subtraction, addition and modification of certain ingredients containing proteins, carbs, and so on, until a mix of ingredients is found that don’t present health problems for a dog. This is commonly referred to as an elimination diet, or a food trial.

 

Something To Be Mindful Of In Limited Ingredient Dog Food Products

If limited ingredient dog food products contain less ingredients overall, you want to make sure they still contain the complete and balanced amount and mix of nutrients for your dog i.e. your dog should still be getting their daily amount of macro and micro nutrients

Also make sure you look out for any warnings or directions for use on the label of a limited ingredient dog food product.

 

Should You Feed Your Dog A Limited Ingredient Dog Food Product Or Diet?

You should ask your dog’s veterinarian for a professional opinion on whether a limited ingredient dog food diet is suitable and safe for them.

Some limited ingredient dog food products require vet authorization before purchasing them.

A vet can work with an owner and their dog to find a dog food product or diet that suits them – this may require a process of changing ingredients until a suitable mix of ingredients are found.

Some vets may even suggest a homemade limited ingredient diet.

 

Some Popular Limited Ingredient Dog Food Brands & Products

A few on the commercial market right now are:

 

Which Dogs Might Not Need Limited Ingredient Dog Food?

Dogs without health problems or that don’t have problems digesting and processing their food without any negative side effects, might not need limited ingredient dog food.

 

Sources

1. https://www.barkz.com/blog/when-to-consider-a-limited-ingredient-diet-dog-food/

2. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/limited-ingredient-dog-food-it-right-your-dog#:~:text=What%20is%20Limited%20Ingredient%20Dog%20Food%3F&text=%E2%80%9CThe%20application%20in%20different%20pet,fish%2C%20lamb%2C%20or%20beans.

3. https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/what-is-limited-ingredient-dog-food

4. https://www.petsmart.com/learning-center/dog-care/put-a-lid-on-it/A0289.html

 

Non GMO Dog Food

Below, we discuss the potential impact of GMO ingredients on pets, as well as list some non GMO pet food brands.

 

Firstly, What Are GMOs?

GMOs are generally organisms with genetic material that has been modified in a lab with genetic engineering.

 

What Are Examples Of GMO Ingredients Commonly Used In Dog Food?

Corn and soy are a few of the most common genetically modified crops – particularly in the US.

 

Are GMO Ingredients Safe Or Unsafe For Dogs?

The reality is that most dogs have eaten, or will probably eat GMO ingredients if they eat a commercial pet food.

Whether or not GMOs are safe for dogs is a question that hasn’t yet been answered definitively. More short term and long term animal feeding studies might be needed.

For example, nomnownow.com points out:

Not much is known about the long-term health effects of GMOs on humans or pets. There is little scientifically sound, unbiased research available to consumers hoping to become more educated about these products that go into their pet’s diet.

 

Some sources do indicate that GM foods might have some potential risk.

One recent long term, peer reviewed report found (thebark.com):

… a diet of GM corn and soy led to higher rates of severe stomach inflammation in pigs, which are physiologically similar to dogs

 

Thebark.com also reports though that there is currently’ no objective evidence of’ certain ills being in GM foods.

Read more thoughts and feedback from a holistic vet on GM dog foods at thebark.com

dogsnaturallymagazine.com also outlines some other potential causes for concern with GMO foods.

 

What Are Non GMO Ingredients?

Generally, non gmo ingredients haven’t been genetically engineered or modified in a lab – they have been grown naturally, or with techniques like selective breeding.

 

Examples Of Popular Non GMO Dog Food Brands

A popular dog food on the market right now that is non GMO is:

Some sources indicate that it’s worth looking for certified organic dog food if you want to find true non GMO food.

petsandgmos.com also has some additional resources on GMOs used in pet food, and shopping for non GMO pet food brands and products.

 

Sources

1. https://www.nomnomnow.com/learn/related-guides/what-is-non-gmo-dog-food

2. https://thebark.com/content/gmo-are-genetically-modified-crops-safe-your-dog-food

3. https://www.nomnomnow.com/learn/related-guides/what-is-non-gmo-dog-food

4. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/why-your-dog-is-probably-eating-gmo-food-and-shouldnt/

5. https://petsandgmos.com/about-us/

6. https://petsandgmos.com/all-home-page-blocks-4/

7. https://petsandgmos.com/non-gmo-pet-foods-all-brands-2/

 

Popular Dog Food Brands Made In The USA

Below, we discuss what ‘Made In The USA’ might actually mean when it comes to dog food.

We also list a few of the most popular brands of dog food on the market right now that have some type of claim to the United States, and list what those claims are.

 

Firstly – What Does ‘Made In The USA’ Actually Mean When It Comes To Dog Food?

There’s two parts to this – the technical/regulatory side, and the practical side of what might actually be enforced.

On the technical side, there’s the FTC and AAFCO to consider. AAFCO has no statutory authority to regulate pet products, but US States might generally follow AAFCO models. AAFCO refers to the FTC’s information on ‘Made In The USA’ claims:

  • [Made In The USA means that] “all or virtually all means” that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content. So just putting together ingredients inside the US is not enough. Additionally, just getting ingredients from a broker within the US is not enough. If ingredients are imported, then it is very difficult to justify the use of the phrase “Made in the USA.”

On the practical side of what happens in reality, topdogtips.com mentions that these guidelines might not be enforced very strictly in the pet food industry, and pet foods using the ‘Made In USA’ label, might be put together in the USA, but have foreign sourced ingredients.

It can be hard to to pet food companies to divulge where their ingredients are sourced, and this may not change until the FTC is stricter on these requirements.

We have written about this before – that the pet food could become a more transparent industry overall.

 

Sourcing Ingredients, & Manufacturing Pet Food

What we see from above is that there’s three main factors to consider:

Origin of ingredients/ingredient sourcing

Manufacturing of commercial dog food – in what facility, and where

Packing of the dog food – where, and how

 

Different countries have different standards for the quality of ingredients, or the processes and requirements of manufacturing facilities.

 

A Note On Finding USA Sourced & Manufactured Dog Food As A Consumer

Something we noticed is that it’s very hard and time intensive to search online for dog food products with USA sourced ingredients on the main ecommerce platforms.

This is something that could definitely be improved by online sellers if they want to meet the needs of pet owners looking for 100% sourced and manufactured in the USA pet foods.

At this stage, a consumer essentially has to spend the time reading the label and manufacturer website information to individually read that the ingredients are fully sourced in the US, and also read where the food is manufactured and packed.

They may also have to call or contact customer service.

Some brands indicate they source ‘most of their ingredients from the US’, but don’t say what %, or what specific ingredients (it could be the secondary ingredients, and not the main meat ingredients for example). Purina is a current example of this.

Some other brands mention they use ‘high quality ingredients’ and 

 

Do Ingredients Always Have To Come From The USA?

Several sources indicate that there is some concern over ingredients sourced from a country like China.

On the other hand, other sources indicate that ingredients might still be high quality and well regulated and sourced from a country other than the US.

So, it depends on the quality of the ingredients, and how well regulated they are more so than whether the ingredients comes from the US.

 

Popular Dog Food Brands Sourced & Made In The USA

One notable dog food brand is TruDog – on their website they mention ‘TruDog products are made from U.S.A. sourced, humanely processed meat’

The topdogtips.com resource listed in the ‘Sources’ section below lists some brands and products sourced, manufactured and packed in the US.

 

Further Reading On Dog Food

Having a ‘Made in the United States’ claim is only one component of dog food.

There’s many other considerations to take into account.

You should speak to your dog’s vet about the best food for your dog, and what a healthy diet might look like for them.

 

Sources 

1. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/tools-consumers/made-usa

2. https://petfood.aafco.org/Labeling-Labeling-Requirements#usa

3. https://topdogtips.com/dog-food-made-in-usa/

4. https://shop.trudog.com/blogs/trudog-blog/the-lowdown-on-dog-food-ingredients

5. https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/dog-food-made-in-the-usa

6. https://truthaboutpetfood.com/made-in-the-usa/

7. https://www.petcarerx.com/article/made-in-usa-vs-sourced-in-the-us-pet-foods/1161

8. https://www.petmd.com/dog/centers/nutrition/slideshows/what-does-made-in-the-USA-mean-for-pet-food?view_all=1

9. https://www.merrickpetcare.com/our-five-star-promise/ (description of the FDA and safety guidelines met by facilities)

10. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/think-you-can-avoid-pet-foods-made-in-china/

11. http://www.petproductnews.com/June-2015/Confirming-the-Sources-of-Made-in-the-USA-Pet-Food/

 

Human Grade Dog Food

Below, we discuss what ‘Human Grade’ might actually mean when it comes to dog food.

We also list a few of the more popular brands of dog food on the market right now that contain ‘human grade’ ingredients.

 

Human Grade Dog Food Brands

One dog food brand with claims related to ‘human grade’ is The Honest Kitchen’.

They mention their food is (from their product description/s):

100% human-grade standard

All ingredients are processed in the USA in a human grade food processing facility

The Honest Kitchen meets the rigorous FDA safety standards to use the label ‘human grade’, ensuring the highest quality dog food.

The Honest Kitchen is made in the USA and never contains unsafe and unhealthy ingredients found in feed-grade products. 

 

You can view their product/s at:

 

What Does ‘Human Grade’ Actually Mean When It Comes To Dog Food?

There’s two parts to this – the technical/regulatory side, and the practical side of what might actually be enforced.

On the technical side, there’s the USDA and AAFCO to consider.

Although AAFCO has no statutory authority to regulate pet products, at aafco.org, they mention:

– There have been “human-grade” claims on some pet foods for a few years. This term has no definition in any animal feed regulations. Extremely few pet food products could be considered officially human edible or human-grade. A pet food that actually met these standards would be expensive. While pet owners can buy what they feel is best for their pet, they should understand the definitions and the odds.

– The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines products fit for human consumption to be officially “edible.” These foodstuffs have been processed, inspected and passed manufacturing regulations (i.e. process control regulations) that are designed to assure safety for consumption by humans.

– Edible is a standard; human-grade is not.

 

So, we see that ‘human grade’ has no real legal definition when it comes to pet food.

A claim that dog food is “human-grade” or “human-quality” might only loosely imply that the food being referred to is edible for people, and has passed the necessary requirements for a food to be considered human grade or safe for humans.

Purina.com has this explanation: ‘In order to label a food as a “human-grade dog food,” all ingredients must be edible for humans, and the food itself must meet federal manufacturing and packaging regulations. As a result, almost no dog foods can meet these standards’

On the practical side, we might see that each pet food brand that claims to have ‘human grade’ pet food products might have their own reference to ‘human grade’ guidelines.

Petfoodindustry.com also has some more information on ‘human grade’ pet foods, and whether they are actually human grade across different US States like California.

 

New AAFCO Guidelines For ‘Human Grade’ Definition

In 2017, newer guidelines came out by AAFCO about ‘human grade’ definitions for pet food.

Via agriculture.nh.gov, a main definition might be:

  • (1) In the AAFCO-defined feed term “human grade” the use of the term “human grade” is only acceptable in reference to the product as a whole. The deed term specifies that every ingredient and the resulting product must be stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with regulations for current good manufacturing practices (cGMP’s) for human edible foods as specified in 21 CFR part 117.

Petfoodindustry.com does a good job of breaking down the newer guidelines.

So, these guidelines might now be taken into account by consumers and pet food manufacturers.

It’s unclear how strictly these guidelines are enforced on pet food manufacturers.

 

Feed Grade Is The Opposite Of Human Grade

Petsafe.net does a good job of breaking down the difference between human grade and feed grade food and ingredients

Feed grade foods can’t legally be sold as human food.

In feed grade foods, there may be a difference in relation to by products.

Lyka.com.au mentions some potential differences in human grade pet foods in Australia.

Regulations and guidelines for human grade foods and feed grade foods may differ country to country though.

 

Is ‘Human Grade’ Dog Food Any Safer Or Better Than Regular Dog Food?

A suitably qualified animal professional, such as your dog’s vet, can answer for you what food and diet might be safe and healthy for your dog.

In general though, a dog food being ‘human grade’ doesn’t tell you anything specific about the nutrition of the dog food ingredients, or other important information you might want to know about the dog food such as whether it contains ingredients linked to certain health problems.

The food could be ‘human grade’, but might not be nutritionally balanced for example.

‘Human grade’ ingredients might only be one factor for consideration in dog food.

 

A Study On Human Grade Dog Food

One study from 2019 from one brand of dog food claiming to use USDA-certified ingredients that are human edible indicates that these types of human grade dog foods are ‘highly digestible’

 

Further Reading On Dog Food

There’s many other considerations to take into account.

You should speak to your dog’s vet about the best food for your dog, and what a healthy diet might look like for them.

 

Sources 

1. https://talkspetfood.aafco.org/humangrade

2. https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/food-nutrition/what-is-human-grade-dog-food—what-does-it-mean-.html#:~:text=For%20a%20product%20to%20be,as%20%E2%80%9Chuman%2Dgrade.%E2%80%9D

3. https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/what-is-human-grade-dog-food

4. https://www.agriculture.nh.gov/publications-forms/documents/aafco-human-grade-pet-products-standards.pdf

5. https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2019/02/human-grade/

6. https://journal.lyka.com.au/human-grade-dog-food/

7. https://www.petfoodindustry.com/blogs/10-debunking-pet-food-myths-and-misconceptions/post/6917-are-human-grade-pet-foods-really-human-grade

8. https://www.petsafe.net/learn/good-enough-to-eat-the-truth-about-human-grade-pet-food

9. https://phys.org/news/2019-12-human-grade-dog-food-fresh-highly.html

 

Is Grain Free Dog Food Better Or Worse For Dogs?

There seems to be many sources online right now claiming the benefits of grain free foods for dogs.

Below, we look at both sides of the discussion to see what the potential pros and cons of grain free foods might be.

From what we see in the pros and cons below – it might be best to talk to a vet about your dog’s unique nutritional needs, and see whether grain, or grain free is best for your dog’s diet.

 

Why Grain Free Might Be Better For Dogs

[Some dogs are] gluten intolerant and can have a predisposition to autoimmune conditions [and foods containing grains may contribute to or trigger this](rd.com)

[some dogs]can have specific allergies to grains like soy, corn, and wheat (rd.com)

Grains are carbohydrates which contribute calories and can lead to weight gain (rd.com)

[Some grains like cheap grain, or refined grain, might be worse than other grains like whole grains. Going grain free might mean you avoid low quality grains]

 

Why Grain Free Might Be Worse For Dogs

Whole grains [like brown rice or barley]are nutritious and healthy [and so, going grain free may mean dogs miss out on whole grains](rd.com)

… animals don’t suffer from gluten-intolerance or celiac disease to the same degree as humans [i.e. grain sensitivities in dogs might be far more rare than some sources make it out to be] (rd.com)

[Dogs without] diagnosed allergies or food intolerances [may not need to get grain free foods](rd.com)

Grains can be digested by dogs, and dogs still may need a small amount of carbohydrates (the right type of carbs) to fulfill their daily nutritional needs. If not through grains, dogs may need to get carbs from other ingredients

[Grains contain carbs. So, dogs may need a low grain diet instead of a no grain diet. A low grain diet with provide a] small amount of carbohydrates [that]will provide fiber, which will improve the health of your dog’s gut microbiome (rd.com)

For some breeds, there may be a link between grain free diets and a heart condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy – but, more research needs to be done to confirm or debunk this (nbcnews.com)

[Whether or not grains are in the food may not be as important as whether the food contains the adequate nutrients] (nbcnews.com)

 

Whole Grain, & Grain Free Dog Food

One brand that does both a whole grain and grain free dog food is The Honest Kitchen:

Whole Grain

 

Grain Free

 

Sources

1. https://thedailyshep.com/what-12-different-veterinarians-say-about-choosing-the-best-dog-food/

2. https://thedailyshep.com/our-most-complete-guide-on-dog-food-what-to-feed-a-dog-what-food-is-best-other-considerations/

3. https://www.nbcnews.com/shopping/home-and-kitchen/best-dog-food-n1189551

4. https://www.rd.com/list/vets-want-you-to-know-about-dog-food/

5. https://www.rd.com/list/vets-want-you-to-know-about-dog-food/

6. https://www.rd.com/list/best-diet-for-dogs-according-to-vets/

7. https://www.consumersadvocate.org/dog-food

 

Food Toppers For Dogs

Below, we look at what dog toppers are, and what some of the most popular brands right now might be.

 

What Are Dog Food Toppers?

Toppers are food products that are added to a dog’s main meal.

They can enhance or boost things such as nutrition and taste of a dog’s food (for this reason, they might also be referred to as a booster or enhancer).

They can also generally help with boosting overall health (they might for example contain fish oil too)

Although most food toppers may not be nutritionally complete and balanced, there can also be some that are (so, check this on the label)

 

Types Of Dog Food Toppers

There’s different types of toppers, with some of the most common ones being:

Proper toppers (can be dry or dehydrated food)

Pour over toppers (can be broths, stews and so on)

Protein boosters (usually a wet mix)

Flavor food topper (powder and gravy type products)

 

Dog food toppers may also be divided into dry, wet, and powder/granular textures and types.

 

Do Dogs Need Food Toppers?

A qualified vet can advise you whether or not your dog might benefit from, or need a dog food topper.

For a fully healthy dog, usually their main food should be nutritionally complete and balanced, so a topper might not be needed.

But, food toppers can help some dogs with things such as:

Helping a dog who isn’t eating their food to eat (because it might make their food more appetising) 

Helping boost certain nutrients like protein

Helping boost hydration or making food softer (in the case of wet toppers)

Providing a treat for a dog 

 

Checking the topper product description and feeding directions can help guide owners on what for, and how toppers might be used and fed to dogs.

Like regular treats, be careful of overfeeding your dog with toppers on top of their regular meals and food.

Some estimates also say that toppers shouldn’t make up more that 10% of a dog’s diet (petcentral.chewy.com) 

 

Some Popular Dog Food Topper Brands

Obviously the topper that is best for your dog will depend on what your dog needs and what your dog’s vet recommends.

But, some popular brands on the market now are:

 

Sources

1. Various pet food brand products’ information

2. https://petcentral.chewy.com/your-guide-to-dog-food-toppers-what-they-are-benefits-and-more/#:~:text=If%20you’d%20like%20to,a%20complete%20and%20balanced%20meal.

 

 

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