I can still remember twelve years ago when my family got our first lab puppy. A big, lively debate was over what kind of food we should feed her. We started off with chicken and brown rice dog food, but then the poor pup had an allergic reaction to the grain contained in the kibble.
It took us trying three different types of food to finally find one that suited her sensitive stomach and provided her with all the nutrients she needed. Then when we got our toy poodle, it didn’t require nearly as much effort to find the right chow. I learned an important lesson through witnessing this trial and error process: each dog is unique and needs a specific type of food (or sometimes they have an iron stomach and will eat anything!).
So what is the right meal for your pup? We collected information about trusted brands and which ones to avoid, as well as some general guidelines dog owners should follow for selecting a dog food. We hope that you find these facts helpful and can ease this stressful process.
Popular Brands to Avoid*
If you’re like me, you’ve seen ads for Purina dog foods on TV many times. And because of the brand’s popularity, it seems like it would be the right choice for your pup, but if you take a closer look at the ingredients list, it tells you another story.
Purina Dog Chow is full of fillers that do not offer optimal nutritional value for your pup. In some cases, such as dogs with a wheat allergy, owners should be careful around brands that are rife with wheat-heavy fillers. Looking at the label, there are many artificial ingredients in this bag of dog food. Again, quality ingredients that deliver high nutritional value for your dog should be prioritized when looking for a dog chow. Malnutrition can lead to many degenerative illnesses in pups, so saving a few bucks here can lead to health problems and costly vet bills in the future. Starting with food can lead to a long and happy life for your pup.
The Cesar brand is another household name, with the adorable white West Highland Terrier as its mascot. Its advertising is really incredible, because the food looks so delicious and good for the dog! In reality, Cesar Filets can be very harmful to our pets, due to their high sodium content. Just like humans, in time, consuming too much salt can lead to health concerns, like kidney disease. High sodium diets can be rough on organs, like the kidneys, because it is too rough and indigestible. High sodium levels over time can lead to malnutrition and related health problems.
Additionally, Cesar Filets features the dreaded ingredient: meat byproducts. Companies are not required to specify what these ‘byproducts’ contain, so it’s more than likely that there will be unhealthy products used in this component. If a company has ingredients that they are not being 100% transparent about, it may be a cause for concern. A little research can mean prioritizing the health of your pup and preventing health problems associated with high sodium intake.
IAMS Dry Dog Food Chunks is a highly marketable dog brand that is often known by new and experienced dog owners. However, their quality of marketing does not equate to their quality of ingredients. To start, IAMS contains the unspecified ‘chicken byproduct meal’, which is a major red flag. Another ingredient of this IAMS product is corn meal, a filler that does nothing nutritionally good for your dog. Unfortunately, fillers are often a cheap way to create more volume per bag. An element called ‘beet pulp’ is included, which can lead to weight gain in your dog. So while making a decision online or in-store, don’t be afraid to turn to the label and bypass all of those catchy phrases and perfectly timed shots of cute pups.
*(avidpup.com is not a veterinary website. For professional advice, please speak to your vet!)
Brands Approved of By Veterinarians
In an NBCNews article written in collaboration with veterinarians, Judy Morgan, DVM, sings the praises of the Farmer’s Dog, a dog food subscription service that delivers straight to your home. You may have seen the company featured on various social media accounts, as it’s quickly becoming a dog-lover favorite.
Using this doggie meal service, you are able to customize your dog’s food to their needs and the ingredients used are fresh and human-grade. Looking at the label, a dog owner can easily see what is going into their dog’s food and a lack of artificial ingredients. Due to the higher quality of the food, the Farmer’s Dog is a more expensive option; however, the money you pay here saves you money in the future that you may be paying to treat health problems associated with poor diet.
Similar quality brands may include Just Food for Dogs or Honest Kitchen. Fresh quality food for pups can be beneficial for delivering optimal nutritional value in your dog’s everyday meals.
Vets sing the praises of this brand of dog food, citing its use of quality ingredients, lack of fillers, and overall premium quality. The first component listed for the Taste of the Wild products is the meat, which means it provides high levels of protein that your pup needs. Being able to understand what is going into your food is a key sign of a quality food brand.
The brand has a specific product made just for small breeds, which is the Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Recipe. Their products also feature important probiotics that your dog needs, stating that there’s 80 million live cultures per pound of food. Probiotics are critical for your pet’s immune and digestive systems, just like ours.
Similar quality brands may include Merrick or Wellness. These brands offer dry kibble and wet food that have high nutritional content, without it being fresh. Dry kibble can be good for your pup’s teeth health as it strengthens their bite and cleans the teeth.
Hill’s Science Diet product (I recognized this brand from seeing it at my dog’s vets office, you might too!) for any Pomeranian one to eight years old. What’s great about this food is that unlike the cheaper brands, there are no fillers, no artificial ingredients, or meat byproducts. There are also plenty of fantastic vitamins included in the recipe that will help maintain the health of your dog’s coat, not to mention help strengthen their immune system.
OC Pom often uses this brand for their sensitive stomach recipe for dogs that are overly anxious, have dietary restrictions and allergies, or just overly sensitive stomachs. Vets will often prescribe this food for dogs that have specific diseases in order to best meet their vitamin needs, such as in the case of kidney disease, liver disease, skin issues, etc.
Some General Advice for What to Look for in Dog Food
Look out for any mention of meat byproducts. There isn’t a requirement for manufacturers to specify what’s in this ingredient, so there is a chance that some poor quality components are used to create the ‘byproduct’. If a company is not being transparent with you, there is usually not a positive reason behind what they are hiding.
Meat should be the first ingredient listed on your dog’s food, because while plant protein is good, it doesn’t always provide all the amino acids that meat does. There are certainly arguments out there for vegan dog food that include necessary nutritional supplements, so just do your homework regarding what your pup needs and refer to your vet.
You are not saving money with cheap food. I know this is a hard thing to accept, but filler products, like corn and wheat that are used in the cheaper brands, don’t provide any sustenance for your furry friend and can lead to malnutrition and related health problems that will rack up costly vet bills in the long run.
If you don’t want to purchase a pre-made doggie food product, there’s always the option of creating it yourself! The American Kennel Club has a great in-depth article about home-cooking your dog’s meals, check it out below!