Going on a search for the best quality dog foods has been a much bigger project than I initially imagined. I decided to start trying different dog foods after the ongoing concerns with the quality of dog foods and because our male Border Collie, Rodeo struggles with stomach problems and has joint issues. I wanted to make my own determinations on safety and quality on any dog food I choose to feed my loving pups Rodeo and Maddie and of course they were pretty sure they should have a say too. Get more details Quán ăn chay ngon nhất sài gòn
It’s probably worth mentioning that I have been in the dog business for over twenty years so I did have a pretty good idea of what I was looking for in a dog food. However, I was shocked at the lax regulations within the dog food industry. It is so easy for a food company to manipulate the information they put on the outside of their food package and then call it nutritious.
I was even more surprised to find that some of the so called quality foods that you would pay a hefty price for in the discount stores are actually not what they make themselves out to be! That’s what those advertising dollars are paying for. Which leads me to my first big tip, throwing money at a high priced dog food does not make it a best quality dog food.
I started by properly learning how to read a dog food label. There are many tricks and frankly deceptive practices that make it a priority to learn how to read a label. Here is a shortened version of that process to help you get started. The first set of labeling rules comes from the FDA and must list the following information:
- The product must be identified as a dog food
- The weight, volume or count of the dog food
- Name and location of the manufacturer
- Listing of all ingredients by their common name
- Listing of all ingredients in descending order by weight
The next agency that may be policing your dog food is the AAFCO or the Association of American Feed Control Officials. AAFCO is not a government agency like the FDA, instead its members are made up of state and federal employees from various agencies and employees from pet food companies. They have additional rules and label regulations on top of the FDA regulations for pet foods. However, dog food regulations vary from state to state and not all states agree to AAFCO regulations.
It’s noteworthy that AAFCO statements only appear on commercial dog foods, which means the natural diets and homemade diets can not be compared using these standards.
With the dog food companies using adorable packaging with cute and catchy names, it’s easy for them to imply that their food is made with good stuff and your dog’s will love it. When in truth, they are hiding the poor quality of their food behind fancy advertising techniques. It’s natural for us as consumers to gravitate toward the more attractive packaging, which is why it’s important to learn how to read the label.
Confused already? Let me explain what I mean when I refer to some companies hiding the poor quality of their dog food. For starters, it’s completely possible that you can purchase a beef dog food that may not actually contain any beef! The problem lies with the rules and regulations allowing the companies to hide poor food ingredients behind wording twist and with hidden meanings. Here are a few of the statements that are used on food labels that can be misleading:
- With Chicken Flavor – Flavor is detectable but doesn’t have to have any actual Chicken meant present in the product.
- With Salmon – The product contains at least 3% salmon. So if you buy a product that says “now with real beef” it may only have 3% real beef in it!
- Beef Dinner – The product must contain at least 25% Beef.
- Liver For Dogs – At least 95% of the product must be liver or 70% including water
Along with the misleading phrases above, there are many other dog label statements that you will need to be wary of: Natural Food, Organic Food, Gourmet Food & Premium Food – A dog food can say “Organic” but it may not necessarily be 100% organic. You should also look for artificial flavors, calories, antioxidants as potential misleading ingredients and all of them vary between manufacturers and product lines.
It’s also important to point out that ingredients are listed by weight but they are listed before they go through any processing. This gives manufacturers another way to pad their label. By listing the weight of the meat in it’s hydrated state, it’s obviously going to make it higher up on the label than the same ingredient after going through the dehydration process. In other words, the label is giving you the amount before processing in it’s original form, not what you are actually getting after all of the moisture is removed during processing.
Watch for poor ingredients that have been split. For example, instead of using a whole grain such as rice, the manufacturer separates the grain into a lesser product such as rice bran and rice gluten. These are far inferior products.
So now you have a good idea of what not to include in your best quality dog foods so what rules should you follow when choosing a safe food?
- Always read the label and if you have questions, ask them!
- Make sure the first ingredient is a whole meat source such as salmon, chicken or lamb.
- Absolutely NO protein or meat by-products like bone meal and meat meal.
- Never buy anything that has leftover animal products from rendering plants.
- Avoid low quality grains like corn or split grains like rice gluten that create an inferior product.
- Use human grade foods or organic or natural – remember that these terms are not yet regulated.
- Stay away from preservatives – a good rule is – if you can’t pronounce it – leave it!
- There is no need to choose foods that are too specific such as for a specific breed. They do not offer any great advantage and will likely cost your more money.
- When you are searching for your best quality dog foods, make sure you choose more than one. Look for 3-5 quality foods that agree with your dog and offer different flavors and different protein or meat sources. This way your dog gets a change in variety and by feeding multiple food sources you help fill in nutritional gaps.
Once you know what to look for it’s time to start sampling foods. There are lots of companies that offer free samples, so if you are interested in particular brands, give the company a call and usually they are glad to send out samples to a new potential customer.
Keep in mind that each dog is unique and no one food is right for every dog. While I think discussing your dog’s diet with your vet is always a good idea, I’m a big fan of you, as a pet parent being the one to make those choices together with your dog. Why? Well, you know your dog better than anyone and you are the one to notice those little nuances like when they are not feeling well, or if they are hurt etc. So you will also be the one to know whether or not your dog likes or dislikes a new dog food and whether or not the new food agrees with your dog.
Keep a journal of what you fed your dog and how they liked it and if they had any problems. Make sure you don’t mix foods and only feed them one at a time. Wait a few days in between switching foods or you will have a dog with a big tummy ache and you won’t get an accurate read on whether or not they liked each food and how it agreed with them.