The Best Dog Food Will Help Your Dog Thrive

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How do you make the decision of what is the best dog food for your dog? The sheer amount of food choices available leave most dog owners confused and more than a little frustrated. Many dog owners use one or more of these sources in their decision-making. Do you?

  • Dog food marketing ads.
  • Your budget and what you can afford.
  • Internet forums.
  • Your personal beliefs and philosophies.
  • A friend’s advice.
  • Your dog’s preference.
  • Availability.
  • The internet.
  • Your own research.
  • Your vet’s advice.

There is a lot of conflicting information out there, so we’re going to help you out with the hard facts.

Skip down to newest published research on dog food.


Commercial Dog Food

best food for dogs

The pet food industry is worth nearly US$25 billion in the United States. There is a considerable marketing budget aimed at convincing the dog owner to buy a particular dog food. At the same time there are considerable amounts being spent on research and development to understand more about the nutritional needs of dogs.

We can assume that dog nutrition knowledge has improved over time. We should now be in a better position than ever to select the best dog food.

But are we?

Skip down to newest published research on dog food.


Dog Food

Check the Nutritional Labels on these and other Dog Food’s available by ordering on-line.


What is the Best Dog Food?

best dog food

This is a far more complicated question than it used to be. It’s also more important to base dog food choices on good solid factual data and information.

In this article we will show you the TWO critical considerations for selecting the best dog food. You will be surprised at how easy it is make the choice to give your dog the best dog food once you understand what you are looking for.

A lot has been written about commercial dog food, so we’re not going to rehash it here. Instead, we will concentrate on the basic information you need to make good choices for your dog. So let’s get started with the FACTS!

Skip down to newest published research on dog food.


Fact 1: What Does The Genome of the Dog Tell Us?

best dog food

The genome tells us that dogs digestion has changed since they were domesticated from wolves. Dogs have evolved to better be able to digest starches than wolves, which is important for this discussion. This is according to recent (2013) science-based research of whole-genome re-sequencing of dogs and wolves. If you want more detail, you can read more on this research at


Fact 2: What Does the Biology of the Dog Tell Us?

best dog food

Dogs are classified as carnivores from a biological perspective, but we now know that dogs are metabolically unable to adapt to a diet that is only animal flesh.

We also know that dogs require lower amino acids and proteins than true carnivores, and they are able to utilise Vitamin A and D from plants. Dogs are metabolically different to carnivores and are actually closer to omnivores, so a meat-only diet won’t work.


Fact 3: The Ingredient Labelling of Dog Food Looks Like a Chemical Experiment

Federal RegulationsIn the U.S. pet food labelling is regulated at two governmental levels.  The purpose of the regulation is to provide factual information on pet food labels. Beware; there are traps!

The federal regulations, under the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), set standards for all animal feed. Regulations require all of the following labelling requirements to be met.

Proper identification of product.

Net quantity statement.

Manufacturer’s name and address.

Proper listing of ingredients.

State Regulations

Some states also enforce their own, more specific, labeling regulations. Many states use the model pet food regulations established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which cover:

Product name.

Guaranteed Analysis.

Nutritional Adequacy Statement.

Feeding directions.

Calorie statements.

For more complete details and information on pet food labelling refer to

In summary, factual information must be provided on pet food labels. However, it is important to be aware that the label is also a promotional tool for the manufacturer. This means that much of the information provided is of little practical value in assisting nutritional assessment. Source: WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee.

Do you know what the commonly used and unregulated terms such as ‘holistic’; ‘premium’ or ‘human grade’ mean? Because they are unregulated, they can mean whatever the manufacturer chooses.


Fact 4: Ingredients Are Not Nutrients

best food for dogs

Ingredient lists provide little information on the quality of the ingredients. They don’t say if those ingredients are in the right proportions to provide nutritional value and they don’t give the overall quality of a dog food.

The FDA provide this example in their explanation of meeting the FDA’s own “Proper listing of ingredients” requirement. (Take the time to read this as it’s quite scary).

For example, one pet food may list “meat” as its first ingredient, and “corn” as the second ingredient. The manufacturer doesn’t hesitate to point out that its competitor lists “corn” first (“meat meal” is second), suggesting the competitor’s product has less animal-source protein than its own.

However, meat is very high in moisture (approximately 75% water). On the other hand, water and fat are removed from meat meal, so it is only 10% moisture (what’s left is mostly protein and minerals). If we could compare both products on a dry matter basis (mathematically “remove” the water from both ingredients), one could see that the second product had more animal-source protein from meat meal than the first product had from meat, even though the ingredient list suggests otherwise.

That is not to say that the second product has more “meat” than the first, or in fact, any meat at all. 

What? The second product’s “Proper listing of ingredients” lists “meat meal” which the FDA advises may OR may not have ANY meat? It’s called meat meal so how doesn’t it contain meat?

We looked up the definition of ‘proper’ in the dictionary and it was pretty much as we expected: Denoting something that is truly what it is said or regarded to be; genuine.  So meat means meat, or it should, shouldn’t it?


Fact 5: The “Nutritional Adequacy Statement” Is The Key

The “Nutritional Adequacy Statement” or the “AAFCO statement” is your key to quality information. This is based on the nutritional profiles the ‘AFFCO’ publishes annually  It spells out the THREE most IMPORTANT considerations for choosing the best dog food for your dog.

  1. Is the food within the packaging complete and balanced?
  2. If the food is complete and balanced, then what age of dog is it balanced for?
  3. Finally, how did the manufacturer determine these things? Did the company use “analysis of food” or a “feeding trial evaluation of the food”.


Fact 6: You Should Use The Manufacturer’s Contact Information

The manufacturer’s experience, knowledge, and quality control procedures are critical. Their quality dictates how much confidence you can have that your dog is eating a nutritious, and safe food. Use the manufacturer’s contact information to ask them some very important questions.

The WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee has compiled the questions for you, and we will send you a FREE copy of their “Recommendations on Selecting Pet Food”  when you enter your name and email address below. We will include a BONUS 16 Page Guide “Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs – A Science Based Guide For Dog Owners”. 


Fact 7: The Importance of the Dog Food Manufacturer

The Clinical Nutrition Service Team at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (Tufts University) highlight the importance of the pet food manufacturer in the process of delivering a dog food product. It made sense to us, so we’ll repeat it here.

“It’s critical to have high quality ingredients and to have a company that has the expertise to put them together in a way that meets all your pet’s nutritional needs. However, this isn’t something you can tell from the ingredient list. Think of it this way – a terrible cook can make even the most expensive ingredients inedible, while an excellent cook can work magic with basic ingredients.”


Fact 8: Why Not Just Make Your Own Dog Food?

best dog food

You may be thinking by now that the best dog food might be what you can make yourself at home. However, how does DIY dog food compare to commercial dog foods in terms of health and cost? “Not very well”, according to the Clinical Nutrition Service at Tufts’ University ‘Cummins Veterinary Medical Centre’. Unlike home-cooked or home supplied food, manufacturers must test their commercial diets for safety and nutritional adequacy.

Because you won’t know if you are meeting your dog’s nutrition needs, your annual visit to the vet will become vital so you can keep a check your dog’s health. Your vet may need to recommend adjustments to your dog’s diet.


Latest Research Finding

A High Meat Diet is the Best to Help a Dog Thrive

Dog owners that feed a high meat diet to their dogs can improve the dog’s well being. A meat diet, rather than a ‘human’ type of diet, allows more nutrients to be absorbed leading to better nutrition.

An independent study undertaken by AgResearch and Massey University in New Zealand and partly funded by the NZ Government Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and New Zealand Premium Petfood Alliance found that a high meat diet is easier for dogs to digest.  You can read the research here

The four key findings of the study.

-High meat diets are more digestible for dogs
-More nutrients from a high meat diet are able to be absorbed
-Dogs on a high meat diet had higher levels of the bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion
-Dogs on a high meat diet had smaller poo and better faecal health

Towards An Optimum Diet for Dogs – Best Dog Food?

Study co-lead, Dr Emma Bermingham, said “We already know dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates in their diet, so this study looked at the role different bacteria play in a dog’s digestion system to help us work toward a clearer picture of what the optimum diet for dogs is. Understanding how bacteria works in the gut is vital because of its links to digestion, diseases such as obesity, and even how it affects mood and behaviour.”

Neil Hinton, spokesperson for New Zealand Premium Petfood Alliance *, said the study findings support the view the pet food manufactures behind the Alliance have been advocating for a long time. “While dogs are considered members of the family, they are carnivores so shouldn’t be fed a humanised diet containing high levels of carbohydrates. The study supports our long-held view that dogs need to be fed a high meat, low carbohydrate diet best suited to their biological makeup.”

“To date there has been hardly any published research, so this study is a significant contribution to the international animal nutrition field. A lot of diets on the market have been designed to ensure a dog survives, but this research shows that high meat diet is the best to help a dog thrive.”

* New Zealand Premium Petfood Alliance is a collaboration between the New Zealand Petfood manufacturers Bombay Petfoods, K9 Natural and ZiwiPeak.


Dog Food

Check the Nutritional Labels on these and other Dog Food’s available by ordering on-line.


Food for Thought

Good health begins with proper nutrition so it is important to select the best dog food that you can afford. And make sure that you schedule regular vet visits to keep a check on your dog’s health.

We hope we have given you some ‘food for thought’ in this article.


Here’s a short clip video on the 2016 documentary “Pet Fooled”. We hope this inspires you to read the ONLY two critical items on dog food labels in your quest for the best dog food.

  1. The Nutritional Adequacy statement.
  2. The Manufacturers name and contact details.



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