Three Qualities of an Ideal Dog Food

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There are several thousand commercially available dog foods to choose from in the United States alone.  Almost every one of these contains long lists of ingredients and hard to understand “guaranteed analysis” and imprecise feeding recommendations.  Unfortunately, this plethora of information and food choices can cause pet owners to become confused about how to choose a good food for their pet.  Instead, the typical consumer will rely on the marketing verbiage and pictures on the packaging and other advertising done by the food brands.



Relying on marketing messages and images to choose a pet food is a mistake. Messaging and imagery can be created to obfuscate the fact that the food is full of lower quality fillers and/or artificial ingredients.  If you want evidence, go to the grocery store and randomly pick out a brightly colored bag with pictures of happy dogs on the package.  Now, look at the first 10 ingredients and ask yourself if those ingredients reflect a wholesome, carnivore diet.  The odds are pretty low that the answer is yes (there are exceptions, of course).


Three Qualities of an Ideal Dog Food

There are certain qualities that can be an indication of a dog food’s overall quality and suitability for a dog.  Three of the more important ones that a pet owner can use to evaluate a dog food are listed below.


The dog food contains lots of whole foods

Whole foods are the best way to ensure that a dog is able to get and utilize the maximum nutrients in a food.  Whole foods provide synergies that isolated and processed ingredients cannot.  Examples of whole foods include Salmon, beef liver and kidneys, apples, and carrots.  These are far superior to their common alternatives like fish meal, beef by-products, and isolated vitamin additives.


The dog food contains nutrient dense ingredients

Nutrient dense ingredients are ingredients that pack a powerful nutritional punch for the calories that they provide. This means that they provide essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, anti-oxidants, and whole vitamin and mineral complexes that are crucial for the dog’s body.  For example, when it comes to protein sources, choose nutrient dense pork or venison, instead of grain based sources like corn or wheat.  Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense as well and are far superior to added vitamins and minerals.


The dog food contains ample high quality, bio-available proteins that are suitable for a dog’s body

Dogs should be fed based on their carnivore ancestry.  This means that they primary ingredients in the food should be the flesh from wildlife and fish.  Whole, named proteins are the most appropriate choices for a dog.  “Meals”, which can up the protein amounts in a food, should not be the main protein ingredient, but rather used to supplement the total protein in a food.  Again, avoid foods laden with cheap filler proteins like wheat, soy, and other plant based proteins.

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  1. love the useful content on your site

    we’re always looking for guest bloggers on our site if you’re ever interested in writing a nutrition article for us (which would link back to your site). Cheers!

  2. These are key things that people need to look for when choosing a dog food. The bright packaging and hype don’t add to the nutritional value. Haha!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…The Secret Life of Pets and PetSmart Are Tail Wagging FunMy Profile

    • Agreed! I’ve found the best brands are the ones that didn’t spend a lot on marketing and design but rather on making a quality product.

      That being said, if you’ve got a little time, making your own dog food is the best way to hit all three points. And it’s cheaper!
      Mark recently posted…The Best Homemade Dog Food RecipesMy Profile

  3. You’ve taken a somewhat complex and sometimes frightening subject and simplified it for everyone to be able to remember. This will help so many people when choosing the right food for their dog. Thank you Slim.

  4. It can be so overwhelming to select a food, so it’s great to know the basics like this as a place to start narrowing it down!
    Jan K recently posted…Last Day of StaycationMy Profile

  5. I feed a home prepared diet, but I encourage my friends / clients to focus on the first 5 ingredients if feeding a dry processed food ( aka ‘Kibble ) — the first 2-3 should be a NAMED meat – and IMPO, the SAME Meat — Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, etc. and the following 2-3 should be UNLIKE carbs — not Corn MEAL, Corn GLUTEN, etc. – but 2-3 separate species of plant producing carbs. I also encourage a ROTATIONAL diet — based on ‘Mammal, Fish, Fowl’

  6. When I go to the pet store for dog food, I often feel like I’m at a library by all the reading that needs to be done with learning about ingredients on the packaging. Thank you for providing clear info rather than the often times confusing and mumbo-jumbo Madison Ave. hype shown on packaging that seems determined to influence purchases rather than providing healthful ingredients for our pets.

  7. I love how you just “put it out there!”

  8. Can’t agree with this post anymore. I put together a similar post on dog foods and wish I had this as a resource before writing mine!

  9. Food has always been a problem for me, especially when i want to ensure my faithful buddy is getting the best quality food out their. This post was very informative thank you!

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