What you feed your dog is a controversial and complex issue. And oh so confusing. You want to do the best for your dog but where do you start with all the choices out there? There’s dry food, can food, raw food, rehydrated food, freeze-dried food, home-cooked food, and now fresh food delivered to your door in ice packs. Where do you start?
There are so many varieties of all of them, too, and some cost way more than others.
I want to talk about dog food a lot in this blog as it challenges me all the time in my own decision-making. I know everyone’s in the same boat.
Firstly, if you have time, and I highly recommend that you do make the time, I want you to watch the following video from Dr. Karen Becker, an integrative pet care expert and holistic vet. She is one of the most followed vets in the world on social media because of how she promotes pet and animal welfare.
It’s from 2015 but still one of the best on the evolution of pet food and what types of food are best for your dog. It’s an eye-opener that’s for sure!
Dr. Becker talks about the best to worst food types for your dog and, yes, dry dog food is at the bottom rung of the ladder. But even though dry dog food is perhaps the last choice on what’s best to feed dogs, it’s still the most popular so it needs to be covered first. Her explanation of why she doesn’t like it would make anyone stop and think.
I’ll go over all the other food types in future posts but I’m thinking that so many people feed the dry kind that if you are going to go that route at least know which is superior.
Because there’s a lot of it out there – and a lot of it’s garbage.
Who Can You Trust To Guide You?
I said this subject is controversial and I meant it.
I don’t believe your vet is the best person to ask what to feed your dog! There, I said it! Yes, there are some over-the-top amazing vets out there who have taken the time to learn about nutrition but sadly most of them don’t. And what little they are taught about it in vet school comes neatly packaged from dog food manufacturers such as Hill’s.
How many vet’s offices do you know that are stacked with Science Diet or Royal Canin – and even worse Purina?
Before I knew any better I once asked my lovely vet what to feed my dogs and he said Purina Beneful. Don’t get me started!
So if you can’t trust your vet to give you the best advice, I recommend you seek out those who research dog food year in and year out.
The Dog Food Advisor website has tons of information on dog food and they do offer their top picks.
Personally, I respect The Whole Dog Journal‘s list of the best dry dog foods the most. They do massive amounts of research on the foods they select and it has to pass strict standards to make their list.
They produce a new list every year and I’m sorry I’m behind for 2021.
To get the actual list you have to subscribe to the publication and I know most of you don’t – but I do! So let me help you out here…
This Is Their Best Dry Dog Foods List!
I firmly believe that if you choose one of the foods on it you’ll be feeding your dog the best dry dog food that’s out there.
Are they more expensive? In some cases yes. But in others, not necessarily. But you do get what you pay for. Go with your gut and buy the best one you can afford to feed. It’s as simple as that really.
Few, if any, of these foods will be found in your local grocery store, and not even in the big box pet stores. But don’t let that put you off. These days you can order from Amazon or Chewy with free shipping so they are all within reach.
This list is in alphabetical order and the names are either those of the company that makes the food or what it’s better known as.
How They Choose the Best Dry Dog Foods
The following is the criteria used by the folks at The Whole Dog Journal to determine what food makes the list and what doesn’t. It’s not foolproof but it’s a fantastic guide for us.
What To Watch Out For
- Named animal protein sources at the top of the ingredient list – chicken instead of poultry for example.
- Meat supported by meat meal.
- Whole foods.
- Ingredients that are certified as organic, humanely raised, or sustainably farmed.
What To Avoid
- Animal products that are not specified by species. For example: meat meal, meat and bone meal, poultry by-product meal, animal fat, poultry fat.
- Animal by-products, including meat by-products, poultry by-products, as well as meat by-product meal and poultry by-product meal.
- Ingredient splitting – for example when one food contains rice, brewer’s rice, rice bran, rice protein meal. If they were combined they would outweigh the higher-quality ingredients.
- Blood products such as animal plasma, blood meal, blood protein, or dried animal blood.
- Added sweeteners.
- Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin. Natural preservatives, such as mixed tocopherols, can be used instead.
So with all those factors in mind, here is The Whole Dog Journal‘s list of the 60 best dry dog foods for 2021. The article in the journal goes into much more detail and as the subscription is low cost I recommend signing up. You’ll receive all their dog food information and lots of other great tips and tricks to help you take care of your dog.
If anyone would like more detailed information on any of these foods please drop me a line and I can fill you in.
- Acana (Champion)
- Avoderm (Breeder’s Choice)
- Blackwood (BrightPet Nutrition)
- Castor & Pollux
- Chicken Soup for the Soul
- Dr. Gary’s Best Breed
- Eagle Pack (Wellpet)
- Earthborn Holistic (Midwestern Pet Foods) – you may remember I just posted about a recall for this food. So make sure to read all about the recall and the batches involved before feeding this food. And maybe it won’t make the list next year due to this. The list was written in January.
- Gather (Petcurean)
- Go! (Petcurean)
- Grandma Mae’s
- Halo – I feed my dogs the canned version.
- Health Extension
- The Honest Kitchen – The Whole Dog Journal is excited about this one and says: “The first dry kibble-like food for dogs that is truly, legally, human-grade.” I think this is relatively new as I didn’t know THK made kibble. Interesting.
- Hound & Gatos
- I and Love and You
- Instinct (Nature’s Variety) – Be Natural
- Kasiks (Firstmate)
- Liberty (Bixbi Pet)
- Life’s Abundance
- Merrick (Nestlé Purina)
- Natural Balance
- Nature’s Variety (See Instinct)
- Now Fresh (Petcurean)
- Open Farm
- Orijen (Champion)
- Pinnacle (Breeder’s Choice)
- Professional + (Diamond)
- Rawbble (Bixbi)
- Skoki (Firstmate)
- Solid Gold
- Sport Dog Food
- Stella and Chewy’s – love this product range for sure.
- Summit (Petcurean)
- Taste of the Wild (Diamond) – I have small breed dogs (Chihuahuas) and the Appalachian variety is highly recommended for them. I leave them out a bowl of it in case they need a nibble. They don’t over-eat so it’s nice for me to know if they need a bit extra it’s there. As their main food is canned (Halo) I’m not worried about them having a little dry. When I get brave enough to wean them off it I will! I’m in this with you guys!
- Tender and True
- Tiki Triumph
- Tuscan Natural
- Wellmade (Cloudstar)
- Wellness (Wellpet)
- Whole Earth Farms (Merrick’s economy line)
Did You Recognize Any of This Dry Dog Food?
So, what do you think of this list? Crazy huh? There are some pretty obscure ones here for sure. Is the food you choose to buy included?
In conclusion, what does this list tell you about well-known brands of dry dog food? Those convenient bags at the supermarket or pet stores? It tells me they are best avoided.
I hope this list helps you decide what dry dog food to buy for your babies. After seeing Dr. Becker’s video on dog food I don’t recommend dry (even though you now know I feed mine a little of it!) but we have to be honest and reasonable and know that some folks just don’t have the time or inclination to feed anything but dry. And that’s ok. No one is judging here. At all. Many dogs live long and prosper on it.
I think next time I tackle food in this blog I’ll take a look at can food. And yes The Whole Dog Journal has a list for that, too.
There’s so much to say about dog food but I hope this has got us off to a good start and I hope it’s made you think. Please let me know your opinions. Leave a comment below and of course share this post so others can benefit from it.
If you have ideas for future posts you’d like to see please let me know that as well.
Until next time….