Dogs are cute. Dogs are cuddly. And dogs need to eat, a lot, which means you, as the dog parent, have to choose between stacks of lyrically-named sacks of grub, boasting everything from a blend of black Angus beef, wild boar, lamb, heritage pork and bison, to free-range turkey and rice. But it’s not all farm-to-dog bowl fare. Dog food quality (and price) are all over the place. That’s why we consulted Dr. Carly Fox, a veterinarian at New York’s Animal Medical Center, for some canine culinary guidance.
“The pet food industry is not well regulated,” says Fox. Because of this, she warns buyers to not be fooled by packaging and marketing and not to discount the bigger sellers. “Artisanal brands may have not been evaluated by AAFCO. Larger brands that are more familiar to you have the money and research to make their food the best it can be.”
Fox recommends shoppers make sure the dog food has been evaluated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) first, and then to read the ingredient list to make sure the dog food is rich in high-quality protein and doesn’t contain cheap fillers like corn (here’s a list of recalled pet food, just as an FYI).
Dry dog food is more convenient because it can be left out for hours, or days, and it doesn’t stink (all that much). But if your pet doesn’t drink enough water, or is older, wet food is a good choice because it provides extra hydration and is easier to eat for elder pooches with dental issues.
As for raw dog food, Fox says to opt out, especially if you have small children. It’s the equivalent of leaving raw chicken on your floor and letting your kids root around in it. The FDA reports that raw food is more likely to be contaminated with bacteria including salmonella and listeria monocytogenes, which can spread to people when you handle the meat, when your dog licks your face and mouth after eating, or if you don’t scrub your hands after touching it. And we all know just how thoroughly little kids wash their digits.
Here are some solid dog foods to buy, based on our research, veterinary guidelines and reviews.
If your adult dog has a sensitive stomach, this could be a great choice for you.
Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, brewers rice, chicken meal, yellow peas, cracked pearled barley.
A solid and popular all-around dog food that comes in smaller-sized chunks.
Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal, dried beet pulp.
A balanced blend that's ideal for healthy, active, adult dogs.
Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, rice flour, whole grain wheat, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), soybean meal.
This recipe provides complete nutrition for your adult, and is egg-free, if your pooch isn't into dairy.
Top five dog food ingredients: Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas.
Another daily food that's suitable for adult dogs of all sizes.
Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, dried peas, soybean meal, whole ground corn.
As the name indicates, this is ideal for smaller-breed dogs like terriers, who need extra carbs for their energy levels.
Top five dog food ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, barley.
A well-rounded dog food for all adult dogs that contains no corn, wheat or soy.
Top five dog food ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal.
The super-luxe dog food from Canada is loaded with quality protein, much of it flash-frozen, and is suitable every life stage of the dog.
Top five dog food ingredients: Fresh chicken meat, fresh turkey meat, fresh cage-free eggs, fresh chicken liver, fresh whole herring.
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