There are a variety of dog food brands that you can choose from which are available in the market. But how do you really navigate through these options and select the best type of dog food to give to your beloved pet? We all know that our dog’s health and nutrition will rely on the type of food that they eat and various pet food advertisements promises to do just that.
But how sure can we be that what we are buying in the market is actually suitable for what our pets really need? Aside from that, how do we address our pet’s food requirements when we are strapped in cash?
Budgeting can sometimes be one of the most difficult issues pet owners can face when taking care of a pet dog. Although we do not intend it to happen, money just sometimes seem to be hard to come by and this often also means that we have to cut back on our spending for our pet food. Does this mean that we would not be able to provide our pets with premium dog foods?
Do we sacrifice their health because of financial reasons or is there another way out? It may seem too good to be true but there are actually high quality products that you can buy without costing you a lot of money.
What are the characteristics of the best dog food brands?
If you are looking for healthy dog food brands, there are a set of things that you should look for. Some of them can be easily seen on the product label and ingredients list, while others would require some diligent research on the internet. Either way, what you will come up with in the end is the assurance that you are providing a high quality diet that will give your dog what he or she needs and provide their body with the materials needed for a strength and endurance.
Aside from that, it will also help them avoid acquiring ailments and diseases by boosting their body’s natural immune system. Below is a list of things that you need to look for when choosing the best type of dog food for your pet.
- Meat as a primary source of protein. One of the things that top dog food brands possess is the presence of meat as its main source of protein.
As you may well know, dogs are carnivores and they require a healthy serving of protein each day to maintain their body’s structure as well as biological functions.It is of interest to note that dogs do not produce amylase, an enzyme needed for the breakdown of carbohydrates, in their mouths but rather, this can be found in the later stages of a dog’s digestive functions. This indicates that dogs do not really need a huge amount of carbohydrates in their daily diet but that their digestive functions are aimed mainly for the breakdown of protein.
Aside from that, they also have a much shorter set of intestines which favors the consumption of meat products compared to plant and other similar products. Aside from this, you also have to note that meat should be the first ingredient that you must see in the ingredients list. This is due to the fact that ingredients are basically listed according to their amount with the first one being the most abundant in the product.
The type of meat listed can vary from fish, fowl or game, cattle, or poultry and this can only mean that you are getting a high quality source of protein in the product. Other brands often start with “broth” or water which is not really a good source of nutrients although it does provide moisture and hydration which is necessary to a dog’s nutrition as well.
The best types of meat are those which are deemed to be suitable for human consumption and those that are certified to be organic and free-range. These foods do not contain steroids or antibiotics which can often cause health risks for dogs.
- The presence of essential fatty acids. Not all types of fat are bad and the good ones are what are also known as “essential fatty acids.” These are the types of fat which help your pet to develop a good functioning heart as well as a shiny fur and a healthy skin. These fats are also called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which can be found in fish, nut, and even animal fat.Now due to health concerns, most people want to get these fatty acids from fish especially those from salmon and other similar fresh water sources.
Nuts and animal fat often tend to cause dogs to gain excess weight which makes them one of the least favorable sources of these fatty acids. But either way, the presence of these essential fatty acids in a pet product only goes to show that the manufacturer has some significant knowledge and concern about the importance of these ingredients which are essential to your dog’s health.
- Absence of artificial preservatives, coloring, and flavors. A high quality dog food does not make use of artificial components in their product. What you should see on the ingredients list should be either ascorbic acid, vitamin E, or vitamin A tocopherols as natural preservatives instead of the commonly used ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydroxytoluene. Artificial preservatives can definitely prolong the shelf life of pet food products but they also produce adverse health reactions on your dog.
One of the ways to know whether a product has natural preservative is by looking at the length of their expiration date from their manufacturing date. The shorter the expiration date is, compared to the manufacturing date, the more likely that food has natural preservatives. These preservatives are also commonly used in dry pet food products instead of wet or semi-moist types.
- The use of local produce and resources. The last but perhaps one of the most important things that a quality pet food possesses is its use of fresh and locally produced meat and other ingredients which are listed on the label. This not only helps to ensure that the ingredients used are fresh and contains a high nutritional value during processing, but that they are also made in facilities with high quality standards and safety measures.
We all know the pet food recalls which have affected a wide range of dog food brands in the market and the reason behind them – they were all processed in the same facility outside of the US or Canada. Although there are some pet food recalls even for products processed in the US and Canada, they were not as widespread or as risky as those that originated from China which were said to have been added with melamine.
One great way to look for a quality dog food is to read the back and see if they meet certain federal regulations. To know what to look for, read our article on finding quality dog foods in your local store.
Which dog food brands offer the best products that I can rely on?
To help you easily find the best dog food brands that you can give your pet, we have compiled a list of companies that make use of the best practices and raw materials that you can work on.
These companies have the desirable qualities that you can find in a pet food product namely: the use of high quality and primary protein ingredient, the presence of essential fatty acids, natural components, and local sourcing of food products.
Take note that there are differences when it comes to the pricing of these products so you may need to check your local pet food store as to what would be most affordable for you. The products are not arranged in any specific order.
- Natural balance– One of the best aspects of Natural Balance is their scientific approach to pet foods. The company had been operating since 1989 and their length of experience and staying power in the market definitely says a lot about the quality of their products.
You can also choose specialized products for specific health conditions such as those that need low protein, grain-free, or low-carbohydrate pet foods.The company’s owners have a personal interest in developing healthy dog foods since they, themselves, are pet owners. Hence, you can rely that they will only give you the best.
- Acana– This is a Canadian-based company which makes use of human-grade and high quality protein sources as well as locally sourced produce to make sure that your dog is getting all the nutrients that they need.
One of the best traits of their products is that they make use of various types of fish oils from wild caught fishes in their dog food products so you are assured of a sufficient amount of essential fatty acids.They also make use of wild herbs and hand-picked fruits and vegetables which are delivered and processed the same day.
- Addiction – This company is worth mentioning due to their somehow exotic taste in meat sources. Their product is recommended for pets which have allergies or sensitivities to common meat products such as beef, chicken, or lamb. You will find meat ingredients such as kangaroo, Brushtail, Unagi, and venison as the main protein sources. They also do not make use of GMOs such as corn, soy, or wheat so you can be assured that you will only be getting purely natural food ingredients.
- Taste of the wild – The company definitely delivers what their name states – a taste of the wild and a return to the earlier diets of dogs. They offer a wide range of meat ingredients such as bison, venison, salmon, lamb, wild boar, duck, turkey, and quail which are combined with locally available fruits and vegetables to deliver a wide range of nutritional content for your dog. Aside from that, the products also contain digestive enzymes and probiotics. They also offer a healthy dose of essential fatty acids.
- Orijen– This is a Canadian company under Champion Pet Foods offering grain-free dog food products. Unlike other types of commercially produced pet foods, they do not tend to destroy the nutritional content of ingredients by subjecting them to extremely high temperatures. Instead, they make use of slow-cooking method in low temperatures which helps to preserve nutrients. The ingredients are also delivered and used fresh, not in frozen form. Meat ingredients include chicken, salmon, turkey, herring, and salmon.
- Iams – This company had been making whole and nutritious foods for dogs since 1946. Their products are born out of research which means that you are getting a scientifically proven healthy diet for your pet.
Aside from that, their website also offers information that can help you decide on how to improve your pet’s diet.Their products are age and need specific so you can find them in categories for puppies, adults, and seniors. One of the unique aspects of the products is their component for brain development which makes them a preferred pet food by dog trainers.
- California natural – This company is based in the US and their products are created with significant contributions from veterinarians themselves. This is definitely one of the best aspects of their pet food since you can trust that they were formulated by those who best understand a dog’s needs.
Although they make use of grains, the company does not process them so what your dog gets is whole and nutritious pet food. The ingredients also undergo a thorough checking and testing for possible contaminants so you can be assured that they are safe. This brand is recommendable for those who have pets that are allergic to meat products.
- Innova– Although the company was purchased by Procter & Gamble, they are still one of the best pet food companies that you can find on the market. First and foremost, they only make use of locally available fruits and vegetables. Next, they make use of natural food preservatives. Third, they contain meat protein sources. And lastly, their products contain a generous dose of DHA and EPA, essential fatty acids which helps dry skin and other types of skin problems.
If you’d like a more in-depth review of the dog food brands that are out there, take a look at our article on reviews of common dog food brands.
How do I know which dog food brand is best for my pet?
Even though there is a wide selection of dog food brands on the market, your dog may only be suitable for only one. This can be due to a lot of factors such as the food combination, processing, carbohydrate content, and allergens which may be contained in the product such as certain types of meat or grains.
To help you choose which type of dog food to give, here are some general classifications of pet foods and their nutritional value:
- Wet or canned foods – These types of food are highly recommended for dogs since they contain a significant amount of liquid content which is essential in a dog’s diet. They are the most expensive type of dog food but they are also one of the healthiest. What is also good about canned foods is that they have lesser preservatives than dry pet foods.
- Raw and frozen foods – If you are a strong believer in raw foods for your pet, then you should go after the raw and frozen ones. These types of food contain no preservatives and often contain the largest amount of nutrients. You can find them in frozen packets or freeze-fried forms where you will need to add some water to prepare them as dinner for your pet.
- Semi-moist foods – These types of dog food contain just the right amount of liquid to turn them into chewy treats that are not only convenient to store but to feed your dog as well. The common issue that pet owners have with this type of food is the use of propylene glycol to preserve moisture content. Aside from that, this treat is often high in protein and fiber content.
- Dry foods – These foods contain a very small amount of moisture and are often high in carbohydrates due to the use of starches as binding materials for the food. Although they are good in keeping your pet’s teeth clean, owners should use this type of food rarely since they can lead to renal problems due to lack of water.
All in all, the best dog food brands are those that incorporate a large amount of animal meat protein source as its main ingredient since dogs are carnivorous animals and they also lack that particular enzyme for digesting carbohydrates.
Next, you should also look for those that get their ingredients from local sources, have high facility and safety standards, incorporate healthy fatty acids, and makes use of natural preservatives for their products.
You can also visit individual websites of pet food manufacturers to learn more about their principles and additional services which may be of use, such as veterinary advice, pet food news, and food testing results. To give your dog the best diet that you can provide, try to look for companies that really have an interest in your pet’s health.
Above all else, try to avoid making any of the mistakes that dog owners are known for. They are outlines in our article about the five common mistakes made in dog nutrition.