Which Food Is Right For My Dog?
There are so many foods out there. How do you decide which is the best for your dog?
I like to divide dog food into 4 groups. Check your labels and avoid foods that are overpriced! Your dog will likely eat less food when you buy a higher quality. Most people find that they do not spend much more on food when they buy a higher quality food, and their dog is healthier. Look at your options and buy the best food you can afford to buy.
Group 1: Highest Quality Dog Food
These foods contain the best quality ingredients, using whole meats, including organs (tripe is an excellent part of a balanced carnivore diet), and high quality digestible carbohydrate sources. No corn is used in these foods. They typically have two meats listed before any carbohydrates and do not use fillers such as beet pulp. Many also include prebiotics** and/or probiotics* for digestive health. You can typically expect to spend $1.50-2.00 per pound or more for these foods, although it is possible to pay less!
Examples of Group 1 brands: Eagle Pack Holistic Select, Evangers, Fromm, Merrick, Nature's Variety, Pinnacle, Precise Plus, Taste of the Wild, Wellness, Wysong
Group 2 Foods: High Quality Foods
These foods use a meat source as the primary ingredient, but may use a meal (lamb meal, chicken meal, etc.). High quality carbohydrates are used. In general corn is not used, but some foods may include some amounts of cooked, ground corn, which is highly digestible. Some foods may contain prebiotics** and/or probiotics* for digestive health. You can generally expect to pay about $1.00-$1.50 per pound for these foods.
Examples of Group 2 brands: Canidae, Canine Caviar, Chicken Soup, Eagle Pack, Royal Canin, Precise, Professional,
Group 3 Foods: Medium Quality Foods
These foods use meat as a primary ingredient but they may use meat by-product, or they may use meat meals but have multiple types of carbohydrates listed that together may actually outweigh the meat. They may have uncooked corn (which is highly undigestible) as a partial carbohydrate source. You can typically expect to pay under $1.00 per pound for these foods.
Examples of Group 3 brands: Diamond, Nutro
Group 4 Foods: Low Quality Foods
These foods do not use meat as a primary ingredient and often use corn as a primary carbohydrate source. Carbohydrate sources are often split up to create the illusion of meat being the primary ingredient. These foods are typically overpriced. You may pay anywhere from under $1.00 to $2.00 per pound. The extra markup pays for advertising. We do not recommend that you feed group 4 foods, and we do not stock them. This group includes many of your most “famous” foods and almost all grocery store food.
Specialty Foods (Found in Groups 1 &2)
Some dogs require special diets. Overdale Kennel stocks many special diets, and we have access to many others. If your dog requires a special diet, ask us how we can help.
Allergy foods: Canidae, Sensible Choice
Limited Ingredient Diets: for dogs with serious allergies, these foods contain a single novel meat source and a single novel carbohydrate source
Examples: Natural Balance, Wellness Simple Solutions
Breed Specific Formulas: Royal Canin
Grain-free Formulas: Taste of the Wild, Merrick Before Grain, Wellness CORE
Increasing Palatability for the picky eater: Natural Balance, Holistic Select
*Benefits of Probiotics:
Probiotics are “good” bacteria which inhabit the digestive systems of living things. These bacteria help us with digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, and removing toxins, among other things. The use of antibiotics, stress, and environmental changes can all disrupt the health of the bacteria in your pet's digestive tract. Daily probiotics help maintain a healthy balance.
**Benefits of Prebiotics:
Prebiotics are Fructo Oligo Saccharides (FOS). These are non-digestible carbohydrates that work in conjunction with probiotics to promote digestive health. FOS reaches the colon undigested, and helps create a more acidic environment there where bad bacteria are diminished and the good bacteria (i.e. probiotics) can flourish.
- Brand recognition is NOT a good way to choose a dog food. Many of the most widely recognized brands fall into Group 4, despite their high prices. The high price pays for the advertising that leads to brand recognition.
- Words like “Select”, “Premium”, “Super Premium”, “Holistic”, “Natural”, etc. have no meaning other than what the manufacturer decides. The only way to evaluate the quality of the food is by reading the labels. We are happy to help you with label reading.
- Buying a food that is labeled “Lamb and Rice”, “Chicken and Rice”, etc. does not mean you are buying a food with only these ingredients. You may still be buying mostly corn! Again, read your labels.