Ask any Facebook friend who won’t stop posting pictures of his or dog about the best dry dog food and you’ll hear plenty of opinions. But where are the facts?
What’s the Best Dog Food?
Not all dry dog food is created equally, and premium labels can be deceiving. Dog food quality (and price) are all over the place.
“The pet food industry is not well regulated,” says Dr. Carly Fox, a veterinarian at New York’s Animal Medical Center. Because of this, Dr. Fox warns buyers to not be fooled by packaging and marketing and not to discount the bigger sellers.
Fox recommends shoppers make sure dog food has been evaluated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) first, and then 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). Pretty packaging and ‘premium’ small-batch blends don’t necessarily make the best dry dog food.
“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,” says Fox.
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, which can be important 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. These dry dog food options are high quality and low risk.
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The Best Dry Dog Food
Grain-free and with limited ingredients, this salmon-based chow is easy on dogs' digestion. While scrapping fillers, it's packed with pro-health additions, including veggies, probiotics, antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals for overall health.
This Chewy favorite is made from American-raised chickens. Along with the protein necessary for lean muscle, it adds antioxidants, fiber, and omegas through farm-grown fruits and veggies including peas, carrots, and cranberries. If this were a salad, you'd buy it at Panera.
Amazon's in-house dog food lets you choose between chicken, salmon, or beef as the main ingredient. It contains no corn, or wheat, and is solid all-purpose dog chow. The top five ingredients in the beef formula are beef, beef meal, sweet potatoes, peas, and lentils.
With foundation of turkey, chicken, and salmon oil (the good stuff, not meat byproducts), Wellness starts its kibble out right. Then it adds fruits and veggies to add easy-to-digest carbs. Also in there: a host of omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, taurine, vitamins, and minerals for longevity and overall health.
A top seller, this dog food is heavy on chicken protein, and has no by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy. Top five dog food ingredients: Deboned chicken, peas, pea protein, tapioca starch, Menhaden fish meal.
This recipe provides complete nutrition for your young canine, and is egg-free, so it's great for pooches that aren't into dairy. Plus the kibble is sized for small mouths. Top five dog food ingredients: Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes.
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.
The Honest Kitchen has a great number of grain-free, all-in-one dog foods. But we like this one for those who want to select their own fresh protein and add it at mealtime. (Hey, we know you're out there.) Its human-grade mix of fruits and veggies is grain-free base that gives your pet a host of vitamins and minerals, and it can be rehydrated for a wet food consistency (you can also feed it dry).
The Best Small-Breed Dry Dog Food
A well-rounded dog food for all adult dogs, especially those on the larger side, that contains no corn, wheat, or soy. Top five dog food ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal.
A solid and popular all-around dog food that comes in smaller-sized chunks for smaller jaws. Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal, dried beet pulp.
The added cost ensures your smaller dog receives zero rendered meats, byproduct meals, and grains, while adding pre- and probiotics and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and a shimmering coat. Top five dog food ingredients: deboned turkey, whole dried egg, peas, pea flour, potatoes.
Cooked an assembled in the U.S., this chow is USDA certified organic and includes organic, free-range chicken as its first ingredient. It's also free of GMOs and artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors, as well as a healthy amount of probiotics and prebiotic fiber for digestion. Finally, it's grain-free.
The Best Dry Dog Food With Grain
There's grain, and then there's the grain that Victor uses for its chow. Guaranteed to be gluten-free, it's healthy for your pup and easy on its digestive track. Adding fish, chicken, beef, and pork meals, it's also nutrient-dense and ready to fuel active breeds for long days of play and exercise.
Different chunks have different textures, to keep things interesting for your canine gourmand. Top five dog food ingredients: Chicken, rice flour, whole grain wheat, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), soybean meal.
This particular brand of dog food is loaded with brown rice, barley, and quinoa. So we're talking grains galore. Top five dog food ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, turkey meal.