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When you walk down the dog food aisle at your local grocery store you will notice that there are dozens of different brands to choose from and the selection at each store is different. Some of it is high quality dog food and some, well, not so much. So how do you go about separating the high quality dog food from the low-quality? Choosing a commercial dog food brand can be tricky since there are so many different options, but there are a few simple things you can do in order to determine whether a dog food brand is worth buying. In this article you will learn the basics about selecting a high-quality dog food brand – you will also receive recommendations for commercial dog food brands that produce high-quality products.
What Makes a Dog Food High-Quality?
Before you learn how to determine whether or not a dog food is of high quality, you need to learn exactly what “high-quality” means. To some degree, the term “high-quality” is subjective – it depends somewhat on the individual needs and preferences of your dog. There are, however, some aspects to consider which all high-quality dog foods share. The most important factor to consider in determining whether a dog food is worth buying is the quality of the ingredients. If you visit the website for popular dog food brands you will likely find some mention of where the company gets its ingredients and what they do to make sure they are of high quality. Some dog food brands source their ingredients locally or they only use organic ingredients. One of the easiest ways to tell if a brand of dog food is committed to high quality dog food is to determine where they get their ingredients.
In addition to the source of the ingredients, you also have to think about the ingredients themselves. A dog food brand that uses fresh, animal-based proteins like chicken, turkey, and salmon will be of higher quality than brands that rely on animal by-product and by-product meals. When it comes to carbohydrates, whole-grain ingredients are preferable to filler ingredients made from corn, wheat and soy – not only are these ingredients low in nutritional value, but they are also likely to cause food allergies in dogs. Another easy way to tell a high-quality brand from a low-quality brand is to check to see whether the company uses artificial preservatives, flavors, or dyes. A high-quality brand of dog food will choose natural preservatives (or no preservatives for fresh and raw foods) and it will not use artificial flavors and dyes to enhance their products.
On top of the types of ingredients the dog food brand chooses, you also need to think about the proportion of those ingredients. All dog food labels carry a guaranteed analysis which tells you the percentage of crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture. A high-quality dog food brand will have higher levels of protein than fat and it should have a moisture content no higher than 10%. In order to determine whether a dog food brand uses the right proportion of ingredients you should convert the guaranteed analysis to a dry matter calculation. To do so, subtract the moisture content from 100% and divide the amount of crude protein, fat and fiber by that number. This will help you to make an accurate comparison of protein and fat content from one dog food brand to another since dog food formulas use different amounts of moisture.
Choosing a High-Quality Dog Food Brand
Now that you understand the basics of what makes a dog food brand high-quality you can better understand the specifics of how to compare one brand to another. The first place you should look is for an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy. AAFCO is a group of organizations and agencies that monitors and regulates animal food production – they conduct feed trials and laboratory tests on all commercial pet food products to see if they meet the minimum nutritional requirements for the animals they are made for. If the product does not carry an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy, the product is not of high-quality and it is not fit to be used as a staple diet for your dog. The AAFCO statement should be prominently displayed on the pet food label.
After determining that the product carries an AAFCO statement, your next place to look is the ingredients list. Assuming you have already looked into the brand, you should have a good idea whether or not the company uses high-quality ingredients – it is still important to check the list for each formula, however. Ideally, the first one or two items on the list should be a high-quality source of animal protein. Look for a fresh meat like chicken, turkey, or salmon or some kind of meat meal. Meat meals are simply fresh meats that have already been cooked down to a moisture content around 10% – this means that they are a much more highly concentrated source of protein than fresh meats. Next, there should be a source of digestible carbohydrate on the list. For dog food brands that use grains, you want to see whole grains listed like whole-grain oats or brown rice. For dog food brands that do not use grains, look for other digestible sources of carbohydrate like sweet potato, peas, and tapioca.
In addition to high-quality sources of protein and carbohydrate, a good dog food brand will also add some kind of fat or oil to the product. Chicken fat is a great ingredient for dogs, as are various fish oils, because they are animal-based and contain a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Plant-based oils like ground flaxseed are still nutritionally valuable, though they are less valuable than animal-based sources. You should also look to see beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics on the ingredients list. Whether or not the product contains chelated minerals – minerals which have been chemically bound to a protein molecule to improve absorption – is a quick way to tell whether it is a high-quality product or not.
Top Recommended Dog Food Brands
Now that you understand the difference between high-quality and low-quality dog foods you may be wondering which brands are the best for your dog. Below you will find a list of top-quality dog food brands that you should consider:
The Blue Buffalo brand is known for its all-natural dog foods and cat foods. This company uses only the highest quality ingredients like fresh, animal-based proteins, whole grains, and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Blue Buffalo offers a wide variety of products for dogs in all life stages, even those with certain nutritional needs. All of Blue Buffalo’s products are completely natural, free from artificial preservatives, flavors, and dyes – they are also free from common allergens like corn, wheat and soy. Blue Buffalo’s dry food products also contain LifeSource Bits which are made with a blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your dog’s health.
Earthborn Holistic follows a wholesome approach to pet nutrition, using only high-quality ingredients that provide the maximum degree of nutritional value. This company is dedicated to providing balanced nutrition for cats and dogs, offering a wide range of products in natural and grain-free formulas. Earthborn Holistic uses fresh proteins, fruits and vegetables along with various vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that your dog’s nutritional needs are met in the most efficient way possible. This company offers both wet food formulas and dry food formulas as well as a collection of treats.
The Orijen brand of dog food is dedicated to providing biologically appropriate diets for dogs and cats. This company uses fresh, regionally sourced ingredients like fresh meats, organs, cartilage and marrow to mimic the natural diet of wild wolves. Orijen products are also made with low-glycemic carbohydrates like lentils and chickpeas to help promote stable blood sugar levels and to reduce fat storage. This company uses fresh fruits, vegetables, and botanicals in their products instead of cereal grains to provide dietary fiber and other nutrients – they also help to detoxify the body, cleanse the liver, and aid in healthy digestion.
The Timberwolf pet food company is committed to freshness, packaging their products in foil-lined bags to retain not only the natural nutrient content but the natural moisture of their products. Timberwolf pet foods are made with fresh, high-quality ingredients and they are free from artificial preservatives and flavors. In addition to fresh meats, Timberwolf pet foods contain fresh fruits and vegetables as well as natural herbs to ensure well-rounded nutrition and maximum flavor. Started in 1995, TimberWolf has remained dedicated to providing pets with nutrient-dense diets made with high-quality ingredients and sold in the freshest form possible.
The key to keeping your dog healthy is to provide him with a nutritious diet. After reading this article you should be equipped to evaluate commercial dog foods based on their labels and ingredients lists.