Compare Reviews for Dog Food
Buying the right dog food is essential to keep your dog healthy, happy and full of energy. Different dogs need different types of food, and the kind needed can vary based on the dog's stage of life, general health and special needs. This means your dog’s needs can change over time, so knowing which dog foods are best during different stages of life can improve your dog’s quality of life.
Talk to your vet about the best type of food for your dog, keeping in mind that your dog’s nutritional needs will change as your dog ages and experiences other changes, including pregnancy and illness.
Top 10 Best Rated Dog Food
|Read 1343 Reviews|
Canidae features dry and wet pet food made from lamb, salmon, bison or duck. All kibbles are finished with HealthPLUS Solutions: a mixture of probiotics, antioxidants and healthy omega oils for optimal health and nutrition.
|Read 24 Reviews|
Freshpet makes all-natural pet food for dogs and cats. They use real meat and vegetables and don’t use preservatives. Their fresh food can be found in the refrigerator section of the pet food aisle in your local store.
|Read 318 Reviews|
Natural Balance features a wide range of dog foods, from the high-protein Wild Pursuit range that combines three sources of meat, to the vegetarian range created from a plethora of nutritional grain and vegetables.
|Read 15 Reviews|
Nature's Variety is free of chemicals, soy, corn, wheat, preservatives and coloring. It comes in dry and wet varieties. Instinct is grain free & based on whole animal proteins while Prairie incorporates grain into their formula.
|Read 16 Reviews|
EVO dog food is formulated to match the nutritional intake of your dog's ancestor, the wolf. High in protein and low in carbs, EVO foods are grain-free. Recipes include chicken and turkey, herring and salmon, and red meat.
|Read 2869 Reviews|
Nutro pet foods were developed for cats and dogs using all-natural ingredients. Dog and cat food brands manufactured by Nutro include Greenies, Max Cat, Perfect Portions, Rotations and Farm's Harvest.
|Read 21 Reviews|
California Natural dog food blends are based on a basic protein & carbohydrate formula. These include chicken & rice, lamb & rice, and herring & sweet potato. Varieties are available for puppies, weight control & senior dogs.
|Read 32 Reviews|
The various dog food blends from Ultra Holistic combine whole grains, oils and lean proteins such as flax seeds, sunflower oil and salmon. This brand has special meals available for puppies, adults, seniors and overweight dogs.
|Read 17 Reviews|
Petguard is an organic pet food created for both cats and dogs. The ingredients have been sourced from chemical-free farms, and no sugar, salt or preservatives are added to the formulas.
|Read 79 Reviews|
Evangers pet foods are made from human-grade ingredients, without any preservatives, artificial flavors or by-products. Wet foods are hand-packaged to ensure quality and consistency.
Pet Food Contributing Editor
A recognized expert and leader in pet nutrition, Dr. Ken Tudor has written over 200 articles on the subject. He also has a featured weekly blog on petMD, is published in major veterinary journals and is a frequent internet media guest expert. He is the founder of Hearthstone Homemade, a recipe and supplement program for pet parents wishing to feed nutritious homemade dog food.
What features matter most?
Not all dog food has the same nutritional content. Some foods are higher in protein or carbohydrates, while others have different fat content.
- High fat: Dog food with lots of fat may be recommended for working dogs or dogs with kidney disease or cancer.
- Quality meats: Protein provides many essential nutrients. Puppies and dogs with diabetes and some intestinal diseases need food with more protein, so check out the meat content on your favorite brands.
- Carbohydrates: Grains, beans, potatoes, fruits and vegetables provide energy, antioxidants, other nutrients and fiber that is important for intestinal health.
Some dog foods contain higher amounts of some minerals than others. It's important to check the mineral content because some dogs need different amounts.
- Copper: Some breeds cannot even tolerate normal amounts of copper in their food. This metal can build up in the liver and cause serious health problems.
- Zinc: Malamutes and Siberian Huskies need more zinc in their diet; dog food that is not high in zinc can cause skin problems for these breeds.
Not all dog foods are equally available. Some brands require a vet's prescription, while others are sold in specialty pet stores rather than the supermarket.
- Allergy-free brands & medical formulas: Your vet can give you special formula diets for allergies and other medical problems.
- Premium brands: Some brands are known for special formulas and ingredients for various life stages. You may need to visit a specialty pet store in order to get these foods.
- Name brands: Name brands may also have special formulas for life stages but are sold in supermarkets and online as well as in specialty stores.
Taste and texture
Dogs react differently to different tastes and textures. Your dog may prefer some types of food to others.
- Variety of flavors: Dogs have their own favorite flavors, but some dogs may also want a variety. They can get bored if you give them the same food over and over.
- Soft or hard: Some dogs prefer softer textures or may require softer foods due to mouth and dental problems.
- Smell of food: Dogs have sensitive noses; if they don't like the way food smells, they won't eat it.
If your dog has certain health issues, the vet may suggest a special diet. You can get foods to meet your dog's health needs at the vet's office or at some pet stores with a veterinary prescription.
- Ultra-low carb foods: Dogs with cancer usually need a low carb diet in order to starve cancer cells and stop their cancer from spreading.
- Low protein foods: Dogs with kidney disease, some liver problems and certain bladder stones need diets low in protein.
- High protein, high fat: Growing, active puppies need a high protein diet in order to support their growth and their need for energy. Dogs with heart disease also need these diets.
- Low fat foods: Dogs with pancreatitis and many intestinal conditions require diets low in fat.
- Low caloric content: Overweight and older dogs with lower activity levels need fewer calories than other dogs. The low caloric content helps maintain a healthier weight.
What are different types of dog food?
Canned dog food is cooked at high temperatures in sealed cans to make sure it's sterile for distribution.
No preservatives: Canned food will often have no preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors, because it is cooked in sealed cans
Moisture level: Dogs needing to lose weight often feel fuller faster when eating canned food because it has 7 times more water than dry food.
Easier to eat: Dogs with dental or mouth problems may find it easier to eat canned foods, which are softer than dry dog food.
Expense: Canned food is more expensive than dry food.
Convenience: Some find opening and storing canned food less convenient than dry or semi-moist foods
This type of food has moisture halfway between dry and wet food. It can be in pellet or chunk form and has a soft, chewy texture. Many dog treats are also semi-moist.
Preservatives: Preservative may be necessary in some brands to prolong shelf life
Moisture level: Also more filling for dogs needing weight loss because it has 3-4 times more water than dry.
Easier to eat: The soft texture makes it easier to eat for dogs with dental or mouth problems.
Expense: Semi-moist is cheaper or equal to canned food but more expensive than dry food.
Convenience: Semi-moist is packaged in easily stored bags so has the same convenience as dry food. It does need sealed storage in hot, humid weather.
Dry food is hard, bite sized chunks, biscuits or pellets dogs crack with their back teeth. Dry food needs higher levels of carbohydrates than the other types of food in order to “pop” the food into its many shapes.
Preservatives: Dry food needs preservatives to prolong shelf life.
Moisture: Dry food is only 10% water so it is less filling, especially for dogs needing weight loss.
Harder to eat: Dry food needs to be cracked into smaller chunks that are difficult for dogs with dental problems. Dogs fed dry food have less dental tarter.
Expense: Dry dog food is the least expensive.
Convenience: Dry food is packaged in easy to store bags and does not generally need special storage needs.
Who's it for?
Active, healthy dogs
Active dogs need a diet with the proper balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Meat, oils, vegetables and grains will help give them the energy they need.
Puppies need a high protein, high fat diet to support their growth. Puppies also need more calcium and phosphorus than adult dogs for strong bone growth.
Pregnant or lactating dogs
Pregnant dogs need more calories than adult dogs and lactating dogs need a diet similar to that for puppies.
Senior dogs need diets higher in proteins to prevent muscle loss with higher fiber and lower calories to help prevent age-related obesity.
Dogs with cancer or chronic illnesses
Dogs with chronic illnesses need a diet to control their illness. For example, diabetic dogs and dogs with cancer need a high fat, high protein and low carb diet.
What do the experts have to say?
Canidae is a premium dog food company, offering a variety of flavors and types of food to dogs throughout the United States.
- Grain-free foods: If your dog has a grain allergy or you would prefer to give him a natural diet, you can purchase grain-free foods here.
- Fresh meat and vegetables: These foods contain a blend of meat and vegetables providing your dog with optimal health.
- Made for pets in all stages of life: From puppy to senior, you'll be able to provide your dog with the nutrition he needs.
- Variety of flavors: Canidae offers unique flavors such as duck and bison as well as standard sources of protein like chicken or lamb.
- Quality control measures: All products go through rigorous quality control assessments such as testing ingredients before using them, testing the quality throughout the food preparation process and doing safety checks prior to releasing the food for sale.
- Best for: Puppies, pregnant or lactating dogs, senior dogs and active healthy dogs.
Natural Balance is endorsed by actor Dick Van Patten and has been using nutritional science to formulate dog food since 1989. This food is often used by dog trainers.
- Company owned by dog owners: Most of the owners and employees own dogs; their goal is to create food that maximizes canine health for their own animals as well as the dogs that belong to Natural Balance's customers.
- Offers choices for dogs on limited diets: Dogs who need a low protein, low carbohydrate or grain-free diet can get the nutrients they need.
- Extensive testing before release: Natural Balance food is always tested for nine contaminants before being released for sale.
- Real-time lab results: Users who want to know exactly what is in their dog food can input the bar code online and get access to lab results.
- Dog Rolls offer dogs a nutritious treat: Dog Rolls can be used as a treat or as a main meal; this product helps keep skin healthy and is often used by trainers to help reinforce good behavior.
- Best for: Dogs with special health needs and dogs in need of training.
Freshpet makes all-natural pet food using real meat and vegetables. They don’t use preservatives in their food so you’ll find their product in the refrigerator section of the pet food aisle in your grocery store.
Nutro has been providing natural ingredients to pet food since 1926. Nutro’s commitment to healthy and safe pet food keeps their formula tailored for each stage of a pet’s life. Nutro is also active in local and national pet communities through its dog park appreciation program, its partnership with RESCUE BANK pet food distribution program, its support of the Natural Disaster Search Dog Foundation and its sustainability efforts.
Eukanuba, named after a piece of slang from the jazz age that means "the best," strives to give dogs the best, most nutritionally sound dog food available. Eukabana has been around since the late 1960s and is a spin-off of Iams, one of the best-known pet food companies.
Iams has been selling dog food since 1946 and today is one of the world's best-known pet food companies. Its goal is to improve the health of dogs all over the world through nutritional offerings.
California Natural is an all-natural dog food company that consults with veterinarians and breeders to create the healthiest dog food options available.
Mother Nature makes all-natural dog treats. This company focuses on giving dogs healthy, nutritious treats in a variety of flavors.
- Offers fresh baked smells and flavors: Dogs will enjoy the scents and flavors and become excited about eating these treats.
- All natural dog treats: Dogs can have the benefit of treats without any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
- No genetically modified ingredients: Mother Nature uses all natural ingredients and does not use soy or corn - as these ingredients are often genetically modified.
- Three different cooking methods: Every product is cooked using one of three methods--baking, canning or extrusion cooking--to create a safe, healthy and delicious product for your dog.
- Offers puppy treats: This company offers specially formulated treats for young dogs to help support growth and development.
- High in calories: Some flavors are high in calories. Overfeeding these treats could lead to weight gain.
- Best for: Healthy active dogs, puppies, and dogs that are pregnant or lactating.
Taste of the Wild makes pet food for cats and dogs. All of its pet food products are grain free, and include a range of ingredients, including meats, fruits, vegetables, antioxidants, chelated minerals and probiotics. Taste of the Wild focuses on producing nutritionally balanced pet food products that help support and enhance pet health.
Evo is an all-natural, grain-free dog food company that believes dogs should be given a diet similar to what they would get in the wild.
Back to Basic's mission is to provide dogs with nutritious meals closely resembling their natural diet in the wild. This company is dedicated to providing dogs with natural, nutritious and appealing food.
Ultra-Holistic Dog Foods uses a blend of ingredients to provide dogs with nutrition, help the strength and shininess of their coats and keep them healthy.
Nature's Variety is an independently owned pet food company that makes its own pet food using all natural ingredients. It offers a variety of pet foods to support different diets that dogs may need to follow for their health.
Purina Dog Chow is one of the best-known dog food brands. Its products can be found in most supermarkets and pet stores.
Reading and understanding dog food labels or the material on dog food maker’s websites can be confusing. In fact, the information may be misleading. Here is some helpful information.
First ingredient – Ingredients are listed on dog food labels in the order of their weight in the food. Meat is allowed to also include its water weight. Meat is 70% water. If meat is listed as the first ingredient it includes the water weight. The amount of real meat protein is actually much less. The second protein ingredient, generally a meat meal, is really the primary protein in the food, not the first ingredient.
Premium or holistic –There are no legal definitions for the words “premium” or “holistic”. These foods do not have to meet standards that are any different from other foods.
Natural – Natural is defined as any feed or ingredient from plant, animal and the earth and can be processed by any method as long as it is not mixed with synthetic products or processed by methods using synthetic products “except in amounts as may occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.” Dog food can contain synthetic ingredients and still use the word “natural” if there is a claim on the label disclosing the presence of synthetic ingredients or products.
Organic – Dog food can be labeled “organic” if only 95% of the ingredients were raised organically.
Organic ingredients – Dog food can be labeled “made with organic ingredients” if only 70% of the ingredients were raised organically.
Meat – Meat is defined as ”striated muscle, but can include tongue, esophagus, diaphragm, heart with overlying fat, sinew, nerve and blood vessels that normally accompany flesh.” Everything in the chest except the lungs is considered “meat.”
Quality – Dog food ingredients do not have quality standards like the USDA quality coding for human meats and products.
Quality control –The FDA and USDA does not require mandatory inspections of dog food companies. Quality control is voluntarily enforced.
Claims by dog food makers are not what they seem. It can be very difficult choosing the best food for your dog. It requires lots of independent research on your part.
Hear from our expert – Dr. Ken Tudor
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.