SlimDoggy Dog Food Ranking Index
The SlimDoggy Dog Food Ranking Index (SFRI) was created to help people easily rank and compare foods. The rankings are based on the ingredients of a dog food and are converted into a mathematical value between 0 and 5, with 5 being the best.
This article is meant to provide an overview of our rating process and provide a simple framework so that you can make your own dog food evaluations. We have used this framework as the basis for our commercial dog food rankings that are available on our site and in the SlimDoggy iPhone App. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available as well.
A Snapshot of a Good Dog Food
Our overall philosophy is rooted in two core concepts:
- Dogs are meat eaters: dogs are descendants of the carnivore wolf, and thus, they should eat meat. Their ancestors ate a diet high in protein and fat and your dog should also. Note that fats are NOT evil! Dog’s bodies are built to well tolerate fat and in fact, fats are the first macronutrient used by the dog’s body to provide energy.
- Nature knows best: when given a choice between artificial and natural, choose natural. When given a choice between more processed and less processed, choose less processed.
At a very high level, for most normal and healthy dogs, their dog food should have the following attributes:
- High in protein and fat (meat or fish as a first ingredient).
- Relative to the average dog food, it should be low in carbohydrate content.
- Real, named protein sources (e.g., beef or chicken, not meat or poultry).
- Actual protein sources are preferred to “meals”.
- Minimal vegetable proteins sources (which are not as digestible as meat and fish proteins).
- No by-products.
- No artificial ingredients (e.g. food coloring like red 40, yellow 5, or preservatives like Propylene Glycol , which is used in anti-freeze and Ethoxyquin which is used in pesticides).
- Little or no fillers. If you see corn in the first few ingredients, be wary. You don’t want things like cellulose, hulls, or mill runs.
- Low in sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Fruits and vegetables as a source of vitamins. Foods that include named fruits and vegetables as part of their ingredients are preferred to foods that mostly list just vitamins as ingredients.
Our methodology ‘rewards’ foods that match with the above profile and ‘penalizes’ foods that don’t. We scrutinize the ingredients and macronutrient profiles of each food in our database and construct a ranking based on a scale of 0-5 with 5 being the highest.
Besides the ingredients themselves, there are other factors that can determine whether or not a food is a good fit for your dog. Although we are unable to consider these factors in our rankings, you should keep these in mind when evaluating what is best for your pet. Make sure to check with your vet before making marked changes in your dog’ diet.
- Food allergies. Your dog may be allergic to certain ingredients in which case you need to find foods that are free of the specific ingredient that your dog is allergic to. Consider single protein foods as a way to help you pinpoint the allergen. You can search the database for foods that don’t contain your pet’s specific allergens.
- Special health conditions. Some dogs may have health conditions that require special diets, like a lower protein or lower fat diet. (Note- senior and diet recipes are often higher in carbohydrates. We typically don’t recommend using these recipes unless there is a medical reason to do so).
- Budget. We recommend that you find the best possible food that will fit within your specific budget, however much it might be. Don’t settle!
- Ingredient sourcing and production environments. We have no way to confirm the dog food company’s sourcing policies. Nor can we evaluate the company’s production policies related to the actual cooking process (e.g. higher temperatures can reduce the nutrient values) or cleanliness and sanitation.
If you have any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to ask either in the comments below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org