Your Guide to Dog Nutrition: The Best Dog Foods for Optimal Health

Your Guide To Dog Nutrition: The Best Dog Foods For Optimal Health

The Best Dog Foods for Optimal Health
Your Guide To Dog Nutrition

Best Dog Foods Nutrition Guide

Along with the pleasure of having a dog as a companion animal, comes the responsibility of caring for your pet. Dog lovers want to provide the healthiest, happiest, longest possible lives for their best friends, and this guide to dog nutrition will help get you and your furry friends started on that path. 

Based on our reviews of the best dog foods for 2017 - 2018, we have identified what we believe to be the best options available.

The table below should help you purchase the best dog food for the optimal health of your pooch.

General Dog Health

Humans and dogs have a unique relationship. Dogs have been faithful human friends and companions for nearly all of human history. Archaeology shows dogs buried with humans nearly 15,000 years ago, when people were still hunter-gatherers, predating domestication of any other animal. Genetic records indicate that humans and dogs evolved together, over centuries of cooperation and companionship, in response to their changing needs and environments.

While dogs were originally domesticated for their ability to assist with hunting and defense, the modern dog is often more valued for the human-adapted social skills it picked up along the centuries. Today's dogs are more often our friends, companions, and even family members.

Dog food and nutrition play a critical role in lasting health, don't forget these other essential aspects of a dog's well-being.

Water

Dog Drinking Water

Water is crucial for lasting health. Generally speaking, your dog will drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight daily, but this amount will fluctuate due to the amount of moisture in food, outside temperature, the dog's activity level, and other factors.

It aids food digestion and helps carry essential nutrients throughout a dog's body. Water also lubricates joints and contributes to ease of movement. And water is essential for body temperature regulation and removal of waste. Provide fresh, clean water and keep it available to your dog at all times.

Exercise

Dog Exercising

As with humans, exercise is an essential component of complete health. Dogs need at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, and working, hunting, and herding breeds require as much as 2 hours a day.

Exercise tones muscles and helps a dog's metabolism properly function. A dog who doesn't get enough exercise is more likely to become obese, and may engage in destructive behaviors due to boredom and restlessness.

Dental care

Dog Getting Dental Care

Dog food choices play a role in dental health, dogs need regular dental care just like humans do. Dogs often suffer from gum disease and tooth problems, which cause pain and can lead to serious health problems.

Brush your dog's teeth daily, feed high-quality food, and provide teeth-friendly chew toys. Bendable rawhide, rubber balls, and Kongs are all good choices for chew toys.

Avoid letting your dog chew on anything too hard (including sheep or cow bones), and the fuzzy coating on a tennis ball can be abrasive and wear down dogs' teeth.

Regular checkups

Dog Getting A Checkup At The Vets

​Dogs tend to naturally hide pain and weakness, it's important to not wait for symptoms to appear before seeking medical help.

Regular visits to the vet ensure that your dog is vaccinated and has all the necessary preventive care, and periodic checks of blood work, weight, teeth, and body functions will help keep your dog healthy into old age.

When considering different dog foods, it's important to understand the fundamentals of nutrition and food labeling. Here are the essential nutritional components of foods.

Protein

Protein is a macronutrient, and is a structural component used to build muscle, bones, and cartilage. Protein is also used to make and repair fur, enzymes, and hormones.

The Proteins are found in many foods, but most commonly found in meat, eggs, and dairy products. Dogs digest these animal proteins most efficiently, due to their carnivorous ancestors, and lack the specific amino acids necessary to benefit from most vegetable and plant proteins.

Fat

Fat is another macronutrient, and is essential for cell structure and metabolic functions.

The Fats provide energy, help maintain body temperature, protect organs, and are necessary for healthy skin and fur. Dogs require more omega-6 (linoleic acid) than omega-3 fats.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the final macronutrient, and can also be a source of energy for dogs. While carbohydrates contain necessary fiber and micronutrients, dogs do not require carbohydrates for survival, and do not efficiently digest many grains, starches, and plants.

Fiber

Fiber is an important carbohydrate that aids digestion. Dogs benefit most from moderately fermentable fibers, such as beet pulp and rice bran, to gain the health benefits of fiber while avoiding excess gas and mucous associated with less digestible fibers.

Vitamins

Vitamins are essential organic compounds, with many biochemical functions necessary for health. They cannot by synthesized by the body, and therefore must be consumed in foods.

As with humans, if a dog has a healthy, well-balanced diet, their food should contain all the necessary vitamins. A dog shouldn't require a vitamin supplement unless recommended by a vet.

Minerals

Minerals are organic chemical elements that are necessary to regulate metabolism and fluid balance, as well as being structurally important in bones, teeth, and fur.

Like vitamins, minerals must be consumed in food, and mineral needs are usually satisfied with a balanced, healthy diet. Minerals often undergo a process called “chelation,” which makes them easier for the body to digest and process.

Dog Food Labeling

Knowing these nutrition terms and their role in a dog's health makes it much easier to understand and interpret a dog food label. Here are some things to keep in mind when reading a dog food label.

Ingredients

As with human food labeling, dog food ingredients are listed in order by weight. Keep in mind that the weight of pure meat is about 75% water weight; if the water were excluded, meat would fall lower on the ingredient list. However, meat-based “meals,” such as chicken or bone meal, have had the water removed, which concentrates the animal proteins in that ingredient.

Guaranteed analysis

Similar to human food labels, the guaranteed analysis gives the minimum percentage of protein and fat in the dog food, and the maximum percentage of fiber and moisture.

AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Look for foods that are certified to meet the AAFCO nutrition levels. Higher-quality foods often will have gone even further, and invested in an AAFCO feeding trial. These feeding trials on real dogs are the best way for a dog food brand to prove that it provides complete nutrition for healthy pets.

Terms like “natural,” “organic,” or “holistic” are marketing terms with no legal definition in animal food products. There are no official standards for the use of these terms, so they don't automatically mean that the food is healthier for your pet.

Also, terms like “complete and balanced” or “high protein” are vague and un-defined; it's important that the ingredients be of the kind and quality that your dog's body can digest in order to use them.

Simply putting the words on the package isn't enough; you have to look closely at the ingredients.

When reading the ingredient list on your dog food, take note of the first three ingredients. The primary ingredients should be from meat sources, not vegetable sources, so that your dog can properly digest the protein, so two of the top three ingredients should be from meat sources. When vegetable ingredients are listed, look for whole vegetables and grains, rather than processed gluten's and grain meals.

Here are some common dog food ingredients to avoid.
  • chevron-right
    Generic terms like “meat” meal or “animal” fats. The label should name the specific animal, which indicates a higher-quality, less-processed ingredient.
  • chevron-right
    By-products. While many by-products are safe for dogs to eat, the term is so broad that it can potentially include less nutritious, digestible ingredients.
  • chevron-right
    Avoid artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors.

Note About Preservatives 

While preservatives are necessary to keep the food from spoiling, choose natural preservatives like tocopherols (vitamin E), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), or rosemary extract.


Avoid artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propylene glycol. While the FDA says that these ingredients are safe and legal to feed to pets, many people attribute adverse reactions to artificial preservatives, and choose to avoid them. But when choosing natural preservatives, your dog food is likely to have a shorter shelf life; pay attention to the “best by” date on the package.


Dog foods with a high percentage of real animal proteins may cost more to buy, dogs need to consume less of it than food with a lot of grains, fillers, and artificial preservatives.


Foods rich in the proper nutrition not only prevent later health problems, but your dog will eat less, eliminate less, and have fewer digestive problems with gas and bloat. In the long run, it's not as expensive as it may seem to choose high-quality dog foods.

Your Dog's Changing Needs

When considering what food to choose for your dog, here are a few more important things to keep in mind.

Your dog's breed and size

Two Different Sized Dogs And Breeds

Dogs do not generally require breed-specific diets, and breed-specific foods are generally just a marketing tactic. Size is a much more relevant indicator of the correct food for your dog.

It is important to feed small-breed and large-breed puppies the appropriate food for their eventual size.

  • paw
    Small breed dogs have high metabolisms, and benefit from frequent small meals of energy-rich foods
  • paw
    Large breed dogs are prone to joint problems in adulthood, so many foods for large dogs will include supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin.

Dog food labels include suggested feeding amounts based on the size of your dog, keep in mind that these are only suggestions.

Your dog's activity level

Dog Being Active

It goes without saying that an active dog needs more food than a less-active dog. And in cold temperatures, a dog will burn calories just to maintain homeostasis, and may need more food than in warm temperatures or climates.

Your dog's life stage

Senior Dog Laying On A Chair

As dogs mature and age, their nutritional requirements will vary. Eventually, it may be necessary to switch to a “senior” dog food formula, to account for older dogs' reduced activity and increased risk of obesity.

The time to change from an adult to a senior formula is different for every individual dog, and should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Puppies

Group Of Puppy's Learning To Eat On Their Own

Puppies get 100% of their nutritional needs met through nursing for the first four weeks of life. Starting from about 3-4 weeks through 7-8 weeks, the puppies should learn to eat food on their own, during a natural process known as “weaning.”

It is important to feed small-breed and large-breed puppies the appropriate food for their eventual size.

  • paw

    Small-breed puppies need frequent, high-calorie meals to stay strong and healthy.

  • paw

    Large-breed puppies need food that is slightly lower in calories, and with carefully balanced calcium and phosphorous so they grow up with healthy bones and joints.

Puppy food should have small kibbles to make it easier for the puppies to eat, and have easily digestible ingredients as they transition to solid foods.

Pregnant and nursing mothers

Dog Nursing Her Pups

Believe it or not, puppy food is the best thing to feed your dog while she is pregnant and nursing. Pregnancy places high demands on her body, and she needs more nutrients than simply increasing the quantity of adult dog food will provide.

Puppy food is higher in fat, calories, calcium, and has the vitamins and minerals she needs to stay healthy and feed her babies, before and after birth.

Feeding mother and pups the same food also eases the weaning process, since the babies will naturally begin to snack on kibbles left over in mother's dish.

The “best” food for your dog depends on your dog's size, activity level, and phase of life. There won't be a single dog food that you will use throughout your dog's life; you will be re-evaluating your food choices based on a variety of factors. This is why understanding dog food labeling and nutrition are so important.

What to Feed Y​our Dog

Dry dog food is also known as kibble, and it is the most common type of dog food. Dry dog food is easy to purchase and feed in large quantities, and high-quality dry dog food is a complete and balanced meal for your pet. However, dry food is more likely to contain unhealthy additives and preservatives.

Canned/wet dog food is easy for dogs to eat and digest. It is often used to supplement diets where the dog needs more moisture or has digestion problems.

In most cases, you can simply follow the feeding instructions on the package, with some adjustments for your dog's activity level and lifestyle.

Avoid overfeeding your dog

Two Dogs Being Over Feed

The most important thing you can do when feeding your dog is to be mindful of overfeeding. Obesity is very common in pets, and, as in humans, it can have detrimental health effects.

You should be able to see your dog's waist when viewed from above and the side, and should be able to feel the dog's spine and ribs when you touch.

If you have to press or feel for your dog's ribs, your dog is overweight. If your dog is overweight, slightly reduce the quantity of food given, and increase their activity level to help get them to a healthy weight.

Avoid table scraps 

Dog Eating Table Scraps

Speaking of weight, treats and table scraps should be remembered when considering your dog's overall calorie consumption and nutritional needs.

Try to increase non-food-related attention and affection, expressing love and bonding in a healthy way. If you can't resist giving treats and scraps, remember to proportionately reduce the amount of food given at regular mealtimes.

Your dog will enjoy healthy people foods, in moderation, but never give your dog bones, raisins, onions, chocolate, avocado, nuts, or the pits of stone fruits.

Best dog foods reviewed

With all that in mind, it's time to look at dog food brands. While there are hundreds of varieties of commercial dog foods available, here are our reviews and ratings for some of the top rated dog food brands.

Best large-breed puppy foods​

As mentioned above, large-breed puppies need a specific diet to reduce the risk of joint and bone problems as they grow. The ratio of protein to carbohydrates, and inclusion of calcium and minerals should be specially formulated for large breed puppies.

Orijen Large Breed Puppy

A look at Orijen's Large Breed Puppy ingredient list reads like a grocery list for your growing dog. The top three ingredients are fresh chicken meat, fresh turkey meat, and fresh whole eggs, which are all high-quality, easily digestible proteins for a growing puppy. 

The addition of fruits and vegetables like cranberry, kale, pumpkin, and apples help add needed vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

25 Pound Bag Of ORIJEN Large Breed Dry Puppy Food

The inclusion of organ meats and cartilage replicate the dietary benefits of wild, carnivorous hunters. There are no artificial preservatives, flavors, or fillers in the Orijen kibble, which means that dogs eat smaller quantities of food, which helps offset the purchase price.

The Good Stuff:

  • All natural ingredients
  • Ingredients responsibly sourced
  • Quality checked and maintained throughout manufacturing process
  • Orijen's foods, production process, and staff have won numerous awards
  • Rave customer reviews on Amazon.com
  • 5-star reviews from dogfoodadvisor.com, dogfoodinsider.com, and dogfoodanalysis.com
  • First place awards at reviews.com
  • Best food award by popular vote at topdog.com 2011-2017
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • High purchase price
  • Overall:

    Orijen provides fantastic, natural nutrition for large breed puppies, helping them to grow strong and healthy. However, the quality of the ingredients is reflected in the price, which may deter some customers.

    Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    It's a little bit humorous that this product is labeled on Amazon as being “puppy flavored,” when it is, of course, not puppy flavored, but the puppy formula.

    In fact, the Wellness CORE is made of mostly high-quality poultry meats, and has a great list of grain-free, whole and natural ingredients.

    26 Pound Bag Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    It has no artificial flavors or preservatives, and is loaded with animal fats and proteins, necessary for puppy health. This food is not specifically formulated for large-breed puppies, but the label indicates that it is healthy for puppies of all sizes.

    The Good Stuff:

  • Grain and gluten-free
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Complete and balanced nutrition
  • Mostly animal proteins and fats
  • 5-star rating on dogfoodadvisor.com
  • Very high customer ratings on amazon.com, chewy.com, petsmart.com, and petco.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Wellness brand has had product recalls in Feb. 2011, May 2012, October 2012, February 2017, - and     March 2017
  • Not formulated specifically for large-breed puppies, although label says it's “suitable” for them
  • Overall:

    Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a very high-quality, nutrient-rich, excellent dog food. While the product recalls are important to note, and possibly raise questions about supply standards, there don't appear to be any related cases of dog injury or illness related to the recalled foods.

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Dry Puppy Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Dry Puppy Food has ingredients that are well-formulated to care for the special needs of a large-breed puppy.

    While it doesn't have the abundance of whole carbohydrates as in the Orijen, and includes some refined starches, it doesn't use refined grains or artificial preservatives, and is a very high-quality food.

    22 Pound Bag Of Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Dry Puppy Food

    The only potentially problematic ingredient, included in small amounts, is caramel. 

    According to the Dog Food Advisor

    Caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

    However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

    In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.

    That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?” 

    The Good Stuff:

  • Grain-free for grain sensitive puppies
  • High-quality whole proteins and abundance of natural ingredients
  • Blue Buffalo gives back by strongly advocating and supporting animal shelters and adoption programs
  • Very high customer ratings on Amazon.com, Petco.com, and Chewy.com
  • 4.5-star review on dogfoodadvisor.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • The inclusion of caramel isn't ideal, although not harmful
  • Overall:

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Dry Puppy Food is a very high-quality, highly-rated puppy food, at a substantially lower price than the Orijen. It's an excellent compromise between quality and purchase price.

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Puppy Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Puppy Food has ingredients that are well-formulated to care for the special needs of a large-breed puppy.

    While it doesn't have the abundance of whole carbohydrates as in the Orijen, and includes some refined starches, it doesn't use refined grains or artificial preservatives, and is a very high-quality food. 

    24 Pound Bag Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Puppy Food

    The only potentially problematic ingredient, included in small amounts, is caramel, as mentioned above in the Rocky Mountain recipe.

    The Good Stuff:

  • Grain-free for grain sensitive puppies
  • High-quality whole proteins and abundance of natural ingredients
  • Blue Buffalo gives back by strongly advocating and supporting animal shelters and adoption programs
  • Very high customer ratings on Petco.com, Chewy.com, and onlynaturalpet.com
  • 4.5-star review on dogfoodadvisor.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • The inclusion of caramel isn't ideal, although not harmful
  • Overall:

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Puppy Food is a very high-quality, highly rated puppy food, much like the Rocky Mountain Recipe. It's an excellent compromise between nutritional quality and purchase price.

    Holistic Select Natural Large & Giant Breed Dry Puppy Food

    Holistic Select Natural Large & Giant Breed Dry Puppy Food includes a lot of high-quality ingredients, with an emphasis on healthy probiotics.

    Unfortunately, two of the top three ingredients are grains, not animal proteins, which isn't ideal for dogs, who evolved to digest animal proteins.

    Holistic Select Natural Large & Giant Breed Dry Puppy Kibble

    Holistic Select also includes quinoa, which is a high-quality, expensive grain high in protein, but it's another source of plant proteins, not animal proteins. Dogfoodinsider.com points out that the high number of ingredients in this dog food may also be slightly problematic for dogs with sensitivity to certain ingredients.

    VIDEO: Holistic Select Unique Digestive Health Support 

    The Good Stuff:

  • Gluten-free
  • Lots of ingredients to support healthy digestion
  • No artificial preservatives or additives
  • High customer reviews on Amazon.com, chewy.com, and petcircle.com.au
  • 4 stars on dogfoodadvisor.com, and 4.5 on dogfoodinsider.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Slightly lower protein content overall
  • Lower percentage of animal proteins
  • Overall:

    Holistic Select Natural Large & Giant Breed Dry Puppy food is a good-quality food with complete nutrition that poses no concerns or health risks for large breed puppies. However, the purchase price is nearly on par with Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe and Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free, which have higher proportions of overall proteins and animal proteins specifically. For puppies without special digestive needs, the Blue Buffalo or Wellness might be a better choice.

    IAMS Proactive Health Puppy Dry Dog Food

    As with our other less-expensive puppy foods, a look at the ingredients for IAMS Proactive Health Puppy Dry Dog Food shows a predominance of grains and vegetable proteins.

    It also includes chicken by-product meal fairly high on the ingredient list, and the problematic caramel color. However, we don't see vague “animal” attributed ingredients, and there are also a number of whole vegetables.

    34.6 Pound Bag Of IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Puppy Dry Dog Food

    According to the above label, there are no artificial preservatives, but dogfoodinsider.com says that IAMS uses ethoxyquin as a preservative in their fish meals present in this dog food.

    The Good Stuff:

  • High in named animal proteins
  • Prebiotics and DHA are healthy for puppies
  • High customer ratings on chewy.com and petco.com
  • 4-star rating from dogfoodinsider.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Lots of grains and vegetable proteins
  • Only 3 stars from dogfoodadvisor.com
  • Overall:

    IAMS Proactive Health Puppy Dry Dog Food is the least expensive food on this list, and not the worst for nutrition. While more animal proteins and chelated minerals are preferred, there is nothing in this food that would hinder the health or happiness of your puppy. If you are concerned about good nutrition at a low price, IAMS is a good bet.

    Hill's Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    Hill's Science Diet is a famous dog food brand, and rightly so. unfortunately, two of the top three, and five out of the top six ingredients in this puppy food are grains.

    The prominence of wheat, sorghum, and corn gluten meal indicates a large percentage of plant-based ingredients which, while not harmful, do not provide digestible nutrition for a dog.

    Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    In addition, some dogs develop sensitivity to wheat or corn, both of which are present in large amounts in this food. Finally, while many essential minerals are included in this recipe, they are not chelated, which may make them more difficult for a puppy to absorb.

    The Good Stuff:

  • Some quality animal protein
  • Good calcium ratio for healthy large-breed bone development
  • Reasonable price
  • High customer reviews on petco.com and chewy.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Large percentage of grains
  • Unlike most puppy foods, this food is not suitable for pregnant or nursing dogs
  • Overall:

    Hill's Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog Food is a fine choice for your puppy, likely to provide good nutrition at a reasonable cost. While it's preferable to have more animal fats and proteins in a dog food, and chelated minerals are more readily bio-available, these choices do help to reduce cost to the consumer.

    Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    A look at the ingredients for Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food raises a few concerns about the nutritional benefits of this food.

    While chicken is the primary ingredient, the next three ingredients are grain, including processed corn gluten meal. 

    34 Pound Bag Of Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    We also see poultry by-product meal and several ingredients with the too-vague “animal” attribution. “Animal fats” should always be specified with the name of the animal, to show that it's not a processing byproduct. 

    Grains and gluten's are not of nutritional benefit to a dog, so we prefer to not see them so high on the ingredient list. This product also includes garlic, which has been scientifically linked to Heinz-body anemia in dogs.

    The Good Stuff:

  • This product has high customer reviews on amazon.com, chewy.com, and petco.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • This product has a 2.5 “not recommended” rating from dogfoodadvisor.com
  • Overall:

    The inclusion of problematic ingredients and the lack of high-quality proteins make this dog food not a good choice for growing puppies. While it costs much less than the Blue Buffalo brand, it's not such a significant cost savings as to give potentially unhealthy ingredients to your dog. And remember that dog foods full of grain are difficult for a dog to digest, so they need greater volumes of lower-quality food to offset the purchase price.

    Best large-breed adult dog food

    Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Dog Food, Chicken & Rice

    The ingredients for Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Dog Food are exactly what you would want to see. Lots of natural, whole meats and healthy, whole ingredients, with no artificial flavors or preservatives.

    30 Pound Bag Of Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Dog Food

    An abundance of vitamins and minerals support the health of adult dogs. This food includes glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which are beneficial to the joint health of large dogs.

    The Good Stuff:

  • High-quality animal proteins
  • Whole vegetables and essential fats
  • High customer reviews on amazon.com, chewy.com, petco.com, petsmart.com, and petflow.com
  • 4-star rating from dogfoodadvisor.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Wellness brand has had product recalls in Feb 2011, May 2012, October 2012, February 2017, and March 2017
  • Overall:

    This appears to be an excellent, high-quality dog food to ensure the health of an adult large-breed dog. The only concern are the large numbers of recalls associated with the Wellness brand, which, however, have not resulted in any known animal illness or injuries.

    Best hypoallergenic dog food

    Dogs can develop allergies and food sensitivity at any time in their lives, with differing degrees of severity. Often dogs develop allergies to wheat, corn, and soy. Dogs with allergies need foods that meet all of their nutrition and calorie requirements while avoiding the irritating ingredients. Here are some of the best on the market:

    Taste of the Wild, Canine Formula

    Taste of the Wild Canine Formula is entirely grain free, composed of high-quality meats and vegetables, supplemented with vitamins and minerals. It contains no artificial flavors or preservatives, and is designed to mimic the natural diet of a carnivorous animal. Canine formulas feature a variety of exotic meats and flavors, including boar, buffalo, venison, and wildfowl.

    30 Pound Bag Of Taste of the Wild Canine Formula

    The Good Stuff:

  • No grains
  • Whole fruits and vegetables
  • High customer reviews on amazon.com and chewy.com
  • 4.5-star review from dogfoodadvisor.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Some reviewers say that the product delivered from Amazon is different and worse than the product when they buy it locally
  • Overall:

    Taste of the Wild is an excellent choice for a grain-free dog food, featuring high-quality ingredients and complete nutrition. While one should always take Amazon reviews with a grain of salt, it might be a good idea to go to tasteofthewildpetfood.com and look up a local supplier rather than ordering off of Amazon.

    Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food

    Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food is a good choice for adult dogs with allergies to wheat and wheat gluten. Full of high-quality fish and fish proteins, and whole (non-wheat) grains, along with a good variety of whole fruits and vegetables, there are no problematic ingredients. In addition, this Holistic Select dog food contains a lot of ingredients that support healthy digestion in adult dogs.

    30 Pound Bag Of Hypoallergenic Holistic Seltect

    The Good Stuff:

  • High-quality animal proteins and fats
  • Whole fruits and vegetables
  • Very high customer reviews on amazon.com
  • 4-star rating on dogfoodadvisor.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Long list of ingredients
  • Overall:

    Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice for a wheat-free dog food. However, the sheer number of ingredients doesn't make this a good choice when trying to eliminate possible allergens or sensitive foods. The number of different proteins, grains, and other ingredients make it difficult to narrow down specific problematic components.

    Addiction Grain Free Dehydrated Dog Food

    Addiction Grain Free Dehydrated Dog Food is a truly innovative product. Made in New Zealand, Addiction has pioneered the art of “raw dehydrated” food. It's the purity of a raw-food diet, with the convenience of kibble, and can be served as is, or add water to re-hydrate the meats and vegetables. In addition, Addiction foods are hypoallergenic, with just a handful of pure, whole meats, fruits, and vegetables, with vitamin and mineral supplements.

    6 Pounds Of Addiction Grain Free Dehydrated Dog Food

    There are very few ingredients in their food formulas, and they are all dominated by animal proteins. Addiction also offers a variety of exotic meats, including kangaroo, brushtail, and venison.

    The Good Stuff:

  • Very few ingredients for dogs with allergies
  • Grain-free
  • High-quality animal proteins
  • Whole fruits and vegetables
  • High customer ratings on amazon.com, chewy.com, and onlynaturalpet.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Only 3 stars from dogfoodadvisor.com
  • High purchase price
  • Overall:

    Addiction has a short list of high-quality ingredients, ideal for sensitive dogs or dogs that cannot have grains. Dogfoodadvisor.com gives it only three stars due to the prominence of potato as an ingredient, on the grounds that potatoes are of negligible nutritional value to dogs. Because the food is raw dehydrated and can be served wet or dry, it is difficult to calculate the number of servings in a package, but it's safe to say that this is a very expensive product.

    NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food

    NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food is specially formulated for older, small-breed dogs. When you look at the ingredients, the first ingredient is chicken. However, the next three ingredients are rice based, which reflects the controversial practice of “ingredient splitting.” In other words, if you were to combine all the different rice-based ingredients (the whole rice, the flour, and the bran), then the primary ingredient in this dog food would be rice.

    30 Pound Bag Of Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food

    Nutro Ultra Senior contains no wheat, corn, or soy, for dogs that are sensitive to those ingredients, and also includes glucosamine and chondroitin, to help the joints of aging dogs.

    The Good Stuff:

  • Features quality meat proteins
  • Small kibbles are good for small breeds
  • Nutro is committed to non-GMO ingredients
  • High customer ratings on amazon.com, petco.com, and chewy.com
  • 4.5-star rating from dogfoodadvisor.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Mostly plant-based proteins
  • Long list of ingredients
  • Overall:

    Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice for an aging small dog with wheat, corn, or soy allergies. There are no problematic ingredients that might cause concern for nutrition or diet, but the rather long list of ingredients may be an issue for some sensitive dogs.

    Best diabetic dog food

    Like humans, dogs can develop diabetes, which is an inability to produce or correctly utilize insulin to break down glucose in the blood. Obese dogs and female dogs are at an elevated risk to develop diabetes in adulthood, while juvenile diabetes is often seen in golden retrievers and keeshonds. Diabetes is a chronic, but manageable disease, but it requires particular attention to the diet. Food choices should be discussed carefully with your veterinarian. Here are the best foods for diabetic dogs.

    ROYAL CANIN Glycobalance Dry Dog Food

    Diabetic dogs require careful management of their fiber intake, and carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. Typically, this means limiting grains, fruits, and vegetables to their whole, unprocessed state.

    The predominance of chicken meal, corn gluten meal, and wheat gluten high in the ingredient list on this product is not typically an indicator of a high-quality dog food. However, it may be used to successfully manage diabetes under the advice of a veterinarian.

    7.7 Pound Bag Of ROYAL CANIN Glycobalance Dry Dog Food

    The Good Stuff:

  • No artificial preservatives
  • No harmful or controversial ingredients
  • Very high customer ratings on amazon.com, petco.com, chewy.com, and petflow.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Not especially nutritious
  • Low evaluation on dogfoodadvisor.com
  • Overall:

    While the ingredient list doesn't seem to be great compared to other dog foods, many reviewers say that Royal Canin is the only diabetic dog food their dogs will eat. When managing a chronic condition, getting your dog to eat can be a challenge in and of itself, so if this formula appeals to a diabetic dog who is being actively monitored for blood sugar and digestive issues, then Royal Canin Glycobalance is a great solution.

    Hill's Prescription Diet w/d Canine Low Fat - Glucose Management - Gastrointestinal

    The ingredients for Hill's Prescription Diet w/d Canine Low Fat - Glucose Management - Gastrointestinal are not ideal for complete nutrition for a dog. This formula is intended to manage weight, increase metabolism, and stabilize blood sugar, but the first ingredient is whole-grain wheat and the second ingredient is whole-grain corn.

    Can Of Hill's Prescription Low Fat

    While the fibers in these whole grains are good for a dog's digestion, they are of no significant nutritional value. Chicken meal is the fourth ingredient on the list. This product also includes chicken liver and pork liver “flavors,” as well as caramel coloring. Based on the ingredients alone, this would be considered a low-quality dog food.

    The Good Stuff:

  • High customer ratings on petco.com, chewy.com, and petflow.com
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Primarily made of grains
  • Meat-based ingredients are meals and flavorings
  • Mixed customer reviews on amazon.com
  • Low evaluation on dogfoodadvisor.com
  • Overall:

    If this food is recommended by a veterinarian for a pet that is being monitored for health and well-being, then follow the guidance of your veterinarian.

    Even dogs with diabetes need treats! Inspired by Drakes Island Jetty, the old dog in “Old Dog Cookie Company,” these diabetic treats are made of wheat, oats, apples, squash, and other natural ingredients. They have no additives or artificial ingredients.

    Vet Approved Old Dog Cookie Company All Natural Diabetic Dog Treats

    However, they do contain garlic. In large quantities, garlic is toxic to dogs. In small amounts, there are no proven adverse effects, but it's an ingredient to note with some caution.

    The Good Stuff:

  • All natural ingredients
  • Highly-rated customer reviews on amazon.com
  • Ingredients seem to have a low glycemic index
  • The Bad Stuff:

  • Contains no animal fats or proteins
  • Contains garlic
  • Overall:

    In moderate quantities, if your diabetic dog likes these treats, they should be fine to give and not cause any adverse effects. They should be used to supplement a complete, healthy diet where blood sugar is carefully monitored, and you may want to mention them to your vet when taking your dog in for a checkup.

    Conclusion

    Now you know what to consider and look for when evaluating your choices in the enormous dog food marketplace, and it's not as complicated as it may have seemed. High-quality dog food, healthy exercise, and fresh water will help give your furry friend a long, healthy life, and avoiding overfeeding is one of the kindest things you can do for your dog.

    Keep in mind the words of advice from the expert breeder: “When they get too thin, I feed them more. When they get too fat, I feed them less.”

    We hope you enjoyed reading all about the best dog foods, and we look forward to hearing all your experiences - stories in the comments below. 

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