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What makes dog food great? What sets good dog foods apart from the not-so-good ones? This is an important question to consider when you’re thinking about switching brands. The food you give to your doggo can mean the difference between a happy, healthy pet, and a sick one. Conditions like obesity and heart disease are a serious problem in canine populations, and they’re almost always directly related to diet. Just like us, dogs need high-quality, lean foods to stay healthy.
When it comes to dog foods, it’s important to remember that not every dog food is created equal. The unfortunate truth is that some brands use fillers, additives, and even unhealthy meat by-products to create sub-par foods for pets. If you want your best friend to live a happy, healthy, active life, it’s time to start taking what they eat more seriously.
What To Avoid In Dog Foods
There are plenty of ingredients in today’s dog food blends that you’ll want to stay away from. Let’s take a closer look at some of these to understand why they’re so harmful to your pet.
After an animal is slaughtered for meat, there are always leftover bits that the slaughterhouse collects for use in pet foods and other animal products. The problem with these by-products is that they’re the leftovers—not the premium parts of the animals that make it into human-grade foods. This means you really don’t know what’s in your dog’s food, and meat by-products are often loaded with preservatives, sodium, dyes, and other additives to preserve flavor and freshness. This is what makes these by-products so detrimental to your dog’s health. High-sodium foods can raise blood pressure and cause serious heart complications.
Unhealthy fats can accumulate in your dog’s blood vessels, causing strain on cardiac muscle and blood vessel walls. This is the same with humans, which is why a low-fat diet is so important.
Chemicals and Preservatives
Perhaps one of the more disturbing items you’ll find in dog food these days is a preservative. There are hundreds of different preservatives on the market, and most of them have come a long way from just plain salt. Preservatives have been linked to cancers and other harmful diseases, and aren’t safe for dogs or humans in most cases. Even preservatives that are labeled as “food-grade” can contain harmful chemicals that can negatively affect your dog’s health.
Meat by-products often contain food dye in order to make their color a bit less unpleasant. Food dyes are generally safe, but there are definitely a few to look out for. According to Petsafe, “Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellow 5 and 6 have been documented to contribute to hypersensitivity (allergic-type) reactions, behavior problems, and cancer in humans. More recently, caramel color has come under fire as it contains 4-methylimidazole (4-MIE), a known animal carcinogen.” That’s not something you want in your dog’s body!
The Stuff You Want In Your Dog’s Food
Most dogs have very similar nutritional needs, and some of the most common problems with dogs of all shapes and sizes are obesity, heart problems, skin and coat problems, and joint problems. Here’s what you do want in your dog’s food to keep him healthy.
Omega-3s and 6s
These are the “good fats”. These potent fatty acids are necessary for both doggos and humans, as they’re the fats that help minimize “bad fats” in the bloodstream, nourish the heart and blood vessels, lubricate and nourish joints, and may even help improve brain health.
While grains are often used as a filler in cheap dog foods, that doesn’t make them necessarily bad for your dog, unless your dog has a high-grain diet. Whole grains like brown rice and barley provide vitamins, minerals, and much-needed fiber to keep your pup’s digestive system working.
Protein is an important part of any balanced diet, and dogs need lots of it. High-quality proteins come from premium meat products, but also come from certain plant-based sources, too. The bottom line is that you need to look for premium meats as the first ingredient in your dog’s food to ensure he’s getting optimal protein.
Natural preservatives, like vitamin C, E, and sodium, are a viable option for dog foods. They don’t contain carcinogens or dyes and are also necessary to general health. Vitamin C supports immune health, and vitamin E is important for skin and coat health. Don’t buy foods that contain strange ingredients or synthetic preservatives.
First on our list, we have one of the best brands on the market today. Featuring high-quality, premium ingredients, the brand strives to provide wholesome, healthy dog foods for pets of all sizes. With a commitment to quality, a good price, and transparent sourcing and manufacturing, Pupper is making waves in the dog food world. If you haven’t tried any of the brand’s food blends yet, head over to Pawandbone.com for an experience you’ll absolutely love. Currently, the brand offers two dog food blends made with premium beef and chicken as the first ingredient.
1. Pupper Chicken Recipe
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
Ingredients List: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzards, Brown Rice, Flax, Sweet Potato, Apples, Ginger, Krill, Sea Salt, Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamins, And Minerals.
Price: $59.99 for a 1-pound bag.
Attributes: Made with high-quality, premium chicken, chicken liver, and other parts, this blend is fortified with proteins, Omega-3s, and more. Whole grain brown rice provides optimal fiber for dogs of all sizes, and apples and ginger bring potent nutrients and flavor to please even the pickiest eaters. It also ships directly from the producer, saving you costly third-party fees along the way.
2. Pupper Beef Recipe
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
Ingredients List: Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Barley, Flax, Carrots, Beets, Cranberries, Parsley, Sea Salt, Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamins, And Minerals.
Price: A 1 pound bag costs just $59.99.
Attributes: Made with premium beef cuts, this blend brings a flavor and consistency your dog simply can’t ignore. Whether you’re raising a German Shepherd or a Shih Tzu, your doggo will get everything he needs from this premium blend. Plus, you won’t spend a fortune, and everything ships from Pawandbone.com for a convenient shipping process.
3. American Journey All Life Stages Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Ingredients List: Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal (A Source Of Glucosamine And Chondroitin Sulfate), Turkey Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Menhaden Fish Meal, Blueberries, Carrots, Salt, Salmon Oil, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Kelp, Fructooligosaccharides, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Selenite, D-calcium Pantothenate, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
Price: You can buy this product online at Chewy.com for $42.99 (24 lbs). Orders over $49 ship free from Chewy.
Attributes: This premium dog food blend is designed from the ground up for taste, quality, and nutritional value. Featuring deboned salmon as the first ingredient, American Journey’s all life stages blend combines the protein and Omega-3s of salmon with sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and other delicious veggies for a great flavor that dogs love. Fortified with vitamins and minerals and ships from Chewy for free if you spend more than $49.
4. Merrick Full Source Raw-Coated Kibble Real Lamb & Venison with Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Ingredients List: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Salmon Meal, Oatmeal, Barley, Dried Egg Product, Sunflower Oil, Tapioca, Quinoa, Venison, Natural Flavor, Venison Liver, Lamb Liver, Salt, Beef Cartilage, Beef, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Beef Liver, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols For Freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, D-calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride). Citric Acid For Freshness, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product.
Price: A 20-lb bag of Merrick Full Source kibble costs about $74.99 on Chewy. This option also ships free from Chewy with the site’s $49 and over free shipping policy.
Attributes: Merrick has been crafting excellent-quality dog foods since 1988. The Texas-based brand is committed to using only the best ingredients in every blend, which is why you’ll find deboned lamb as the number one ingredient in this blend. Venison provides lean proteins, lamb provides red meat loaded with vitamins, minerals, and proteins, and salmon meal gives your doggo all the Omega-3s he needs to stay happy and healthy.
5. Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Ingredients List: Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Oatmeal, Organic Barley, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Peas, Organic Chicken Fat, Organic Sunflower Seed Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, Organic Flaxseed, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Chicken Liver, Organic Blueberries, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Methionine Complex, Calcium Carbonate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Taurine, Organic Amaranth, Mixed Tocopherols For Freshness.
Price: This blend comes in a 4, 10, and 18-lb bag. You’ll spend anywhere from $16-$73 depending on the size, but remember that you’re paying for the highest-quality premium organic ingredients.
Attributes: Castor and Pollux is one of the few brands that offers USDA-certified organic ingredients for a flavor and quality you simply can’t ignore. With premium organic chicken and rice, your pup will love the flavor of this wholesome dog food blend, whatever breed, age, or size he may be. The bits are bit-sized for easy digestion, and contain plenty of nutrients for optimal, balanced health.
6. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Roasted Bison & Venison Dry Dog Food
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Ingredients List: Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Egg Product, Roasted Bison, Roasted Venison, Beef, Natural Flavor, Tomato Pomace, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Ocean Fish Meal, Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
Price: You can buy a 28-lb bag from PetCo for around $48.99. There are also 5 and 14-lb options available.
Attributes: Taste of the Wild is a brand that offers premium nutrition via foods that mimic your dog’s ancestors. Dogs are descended from grey wolves, which are believed to only consume meat. This is a misconception, as Grey Wolves have been known to eat the grains in the stomachs of their kills, as well as other plant-based items on occasion. For this reason, Taste of the Wild uses only premium meats like buffalo, venison, and lamb combined with ancient grains for a blanched, nutritional diet akin to your dog’s ancestors. If you’re looking for premium nutrition at a good price, this is your best option!