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Which Dry Dog Food Is Best?

In my line of work, I scrutinise commercial dog foods daily. The first question I pose to my clients is about the quality of their dog's diet. This fundamental step allows me to make impactful improvements that can significantly boost their pet’s health.

Time and again, I encounter dog owners who proudly invest in high-priced, leading-brand dog food, only for me to break the gut-wrenching news: their chosen product is packed with subpar ingredients and offers little to no nutritional benefit. They’ve been duped by slick marketing and, lacking the expertise to decode ingredient lists, believe they’re making the best choice. I was in their shoes once upon a time, so I completely empathised.

The deeper I dive into the commercial pet food industry, the more appalled I become by the ingredients used. Adding insult to injury, many of these inferior products come recommended by veterinarians—professionals with limited nutrition training, merely endorsing what big corporations push. Make no mistake, vets do a remarkable and challenging job, but their nutritional guidance often falls short. It boils down to corporate profits, not your dog’s well-being. Rant over!

Now, let’s focus on finding the best foods for your dog. Not all commercial products are bad. While my dogs primarily enjoy fresh food, occasionally, I also rely on some quick and convenient commercial options. My goal is to help you identify the best options available.

Understanding ingredients and processing methods is crucial. For a detailed guide, refer to my comprehensive article about pet food labels, but here are some basic guidelines:

Ingredients to Avoid:

  • Animal ‘Meal’ Products: Rendered meat processed at extreme temperatures, containing questionable, non-human-grade ingredients.

  • ‘By-Products’: The leftover, less desirable parts of an animal after the meat is removed.

  • General ‘Meat’: A vague term that could mean any animal, potentially triggering sensitivities.

  • Animal Fat: Rendered at high temperatures, becoming highly inflammatory.

  • Wheat: Contains gluten and is hard to digest.

  • White Rice: Offers no nutritional benefits.

  • Barley: Contains gluten and is difficult to digest.

  • ‘Flour’: Highly refined carbohydrate, unnecessary for dogs.

  • Artificial Food Coloring

  • Vegetable Oil: High in Omega-6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory.

  • Unpronounceable Ingredients: BHA, BHT, Propyl Gallate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, MSG, Sodium Hexametaphosphate.

By now, you should be scrutinising your dog food’s ingredient list. Chances are, you'll find some (or many) of these harmful ingredients.

Next, consider the manufacturing methods and their impact on food quality. Shelf-stable products require drying, but the method used is crucial. Less heat means higher quality.

Why are high-heat-treated products harmful? Read my detailed article on this issue: The Hidden Risk - AGEs in your Dog's Food!

Guidelines for Choosing Dry Foods:

  • Freeze-dried: This is the gold standard. It uses freeze-drying technology instead of heat, preserving nutritional value. It’s pricey, but worth it. Use it as a topper if budget is a concern.

  • Air-Dried: Uses lower temperatures, retaining most nutrients while ensuring shelf stability and safety.

  • Baked: Preserves more natural nutrients than extruded.

  • Dry/Extruded: These products are processed under high pressure and ultra-high temperatures, depleting nutrients and necessitating synthetic additives. Most products on shelves fall into this category, so choose wisely.

Next time you’re at the pet store, refer to this guide. Also, check out the freezer section for raw products.

Adding a few pieces to your dog’s bowl daily can significantly upgrade their protein intake.

Pro Tip #1: Visit to evaluate your current food. If you’re using a leading brand, you’ll likely find a review there. This will help you make better-informed decisions.

Pro Tip #2: Pick the perfect bag size for your dog. Once you break that seal, the countdown begins. Quality drops fast, so aim to finish the bag within a month.

Pro Tip #3: Ditch the plastic containers unless they're airtight. Transferring food can slash its shelf life and invite harmful pathogens to thrive.

Pro Tip #4: Freeze your dry food to extend its shelf life. Just take out a few days' worth at a time and store it in the fridge.

Pro Tip #5: Always rehydrate your dry food before serving. Your dog's digestive system isn't built for dry food—add water or bone broth to keep it hydrated and healthy.



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