BEST DRY DOG FOOD
So maybe you have a new puppy, or perhaps an older dog and you are not satisfied with the current diet you are feeding. Maybe your dog has developed allergies or health concerns, or perhaps you simply want to ensure that your dog is eating the best quality food you can afford that suits your lifestyle. This comprehensive guide, will give you all the information you need about choosing the right, quality food for your furry family member.
This article specifically covers the largest dog food market – dry food, however we will also be covering: pre packed raw food options, wet dog food and homecooked. In this article we are looking at the best and worst dry dog food options including: extruded, cold pressed, air dried and freeze dried and baked. However more importantly we are not going to bombard you with jargon, just give you the simple facts so you can make an in informed decision about what is best for your hound.
All the dogs here at Wagnificent Pets are fed a BARF diet, meaning they are raw fed. There is a lot of information about this feeding method all over the internet and we will cover some of the best pre packed raw suppliers in the UK, in order to make your transition to raw feeding, simple and seamless in the next article.
Our Story: Is Dexter a Fussy Eater?
First I want to tell you our story. When we collected our beloved, bundle of fur, an F1 Toy Cockapoo, soon to be called Dexter, we were relative novices in many aspects of dog ownership. We collected him and brought him home with his scent blanket and a bag of non descript brown kibble nuggets, which we were assured were of a good quality. The truth is we had not spent much time researching dog food. Dog food is dog food right? Grab a tin or pack from the supermarket, or maybe buy whatever the vet happens to recommend in the posh white bags? Well the simple answer is NO!
After a week of settling in to his new home it became clear that Dexter was not really enjoying his food. He would usually sniff at it, maybe play with it and walk away or on a good day he would get half a bowl of these dry biscuits down and often have both wind and loose stools but we will come on to the importance of dog poo later in our raw feeding article! We knew it wasn’t right and we certainly knew it was not doing him much good. We went to a well-known pet shop and asked for advice, where we came away with a different brand of non descript brown dry kibble and quess what? We had the same result. So we asked ourselves, is our dog just being fussy? The short answer is no. Your dog knows, instinctively, what he needs in his diet and what he likes.
By chance we had started attending a local puppy socialization class and I mentioned Dexter’s appetite issue to our dog trainer, who took some time to explain to me and the class a little about dog food. To be fair we were blown away by what we learnt, and it remains the foundation of our dogs’ wellbeing. The first thing you need to do is READ the back of what you are feeding. Yes, actually take two minutes to READ what is in the contents of the food you are giving your precious dog. Bizarre but it is something we had never thought to do! Dog food is just dog food right? I rushed home after the class and grabbed the bag of non descript, brown kibble and was shocked to see the meat content was just 21%. The rest of the ingredients I could barely make out what they were! No wonder my poor pup didn’t much fancy it. Dogs are carnivores, make no mistake about it, dogs need meat. I wanted my dogs to have the best I could afford, I did not want a product full of ‘filler’. Our phrase is simple, look for ‘all killer and no filler’, when choosing your pet food. Ignore the adverts! The outrageous multi million pound advertising campaigns might make it look inviting to YOU, are not as inviting for your dogs.
Always read the label!
We found a quality pet shop locally, which stocked a better range of dry food and we tried Dexter on both Orijen and Canagan and his eating and general appetite improved very quickly. These brands contained up to 80% meat, so quite a jump from the measly 21% we were feeding. Orijen offer both puppy and adult specific food, however when you are purchasing such a high quality food with a high meat content (80%), buying puppy specific food, is not always necessary as they are already getting more than the recommended protein for pups.
So we started out by purchasing a small bag to see how we got on and once confident, we bought the slightly larger packs for better value for money.
So we managed to transition Dexter very easily on to the new food and all was well for a while, he was eating well, gaining weight and the wind issue did ease somewhat. However our thirst for information around dog nutrition was born and we wanted to know more, so we looked into where the products were manufactured and exactly how they are made.
Over the last 50 years, the pet food industry has worked tirelessly to keep up with the convenience many dog owners require. When I was growing up there was always a leaning towards a tin of meat and come crunchy biscuits to fill them up. Pet nutrition and dog food in particular has come a long way since then, which is why so called ‘complete’ dry dog food have become the most popular, however there is a substantial amount of research showing that the all-important gut of the dog, prefers wet food. A healthy gut is vital to the well being of your furry friend. It’s also worth remembering that the big multi national companies and brands that we have all grown up with have spent billions of pounds promoting their latest products. Dry food is convenient but that comes at a cost.
Dry Food can be produced in a variety of ways:
Extruded: This makes up a massive 95% of all dry dog foods. The food is basically all mixed together and heated through a tube, sometimes multiple times to very high temperatures and then cut and baked to dry them out into kibble. This extreme heating process is makes this type of kibble super cheap to manufacture and thus it is widely used, but ultimately this process, means the food loses a great deal of the valuable nutrients the meat had to begin with.
Extruded Dry Food suppliers include: Royal Canin, Science Plan, Iams, Burns, Eden, Aatu, James Wellbeloved, Eukanuba and Bakers.
Baked: Due to the raised awareness over the extruded method, noted above, some companies have explored other ways to maintain the convenience of dry kibble but keep the valuable and vital nutrients intact. The baking process takes longer and is done at lower temperatures, which reduces the loss of nutrients.
Baked dry food suppliers include: Laughing Dog and AvoDerm
Air Dried: Air dried or freeze dried food, is slow to gain any ground in the pet food market due to the huge costs in producing it. This type of food is rather expensive for many. Many natural feeders simply do not think that any form of cooking is suitable for dogs, however there are a number of advocates for this method of feeding. After all dogs didn’t have ovens and microwave in the wild, so I can see their point.
Air Dried and Freeze Dried Suppliers include: Ziwipeak
Cold Pressed: Essentially this is probably the best dry food you can buy your dog. Food is mixed and literally pressed to remove moisture before being blasted with heat for a matter of seconds to give it a crisp texture. This method does not require so much heat treatment so most of the original nutrients remain intact.
Cold Pressed Suppliers include: Gentle, Guru, Lupo, Markus Muhle, Farm Food and Lukullus.
Once we fully understood a little about dry food and the various methods it goes through to get to you in good condition, we initially were going to swap to cold pressed immediately, then we started to look into raw feeding, which had become very popular in our local area (The New Forest) and after much research we served both our dogs a bowl of raw minced chicken for the first time and it was demolished in seconds! We knew we had delivered not only what the dogs needed, but what their little bodies were craving! MEAT! Since then we have never looked back, it took a while to get the hang of it and get into a little routine but with the emergence of so many new raw food suppliers, it has become very easy – you just need a good sized freezer [Symbol]
Here at Wagnificent our driving force is to share our experience as dog owners. The objective of this article has been to educate and inform, using our own experiences in the hope that more dog owners take a little time to read the label and consider what they are actually feeding and potentially greatly benefit the health and happiness of their pet. There have been remarkable turnarounds for some very sickly dogs by changing their diet, which is no great surprise. If we all lived on a diet of just cheap, processed burger and chips, we would soon get very sick! Just like us, dogs need fresh, quality food and variation! If you do nothing else after reading this article, then give your dogs a few fresh veggies every now and then. Carrot, broccoli and spinach for example.
So on to the best and worst of our findings. Firstly we have no association with any brand of pet food, so we can genuinely give you the facts as we see it.
Top Tips to Choosing the Best Dog Food
- Read the ingredients on the food you are feeding. If it is less than 50 – 60% meat content, then you need to consider a change.
- If you want to stay on a dry food diet for convenience, consider a change to a high meat content such as (80/20 mix) or a cold pressed product such as the ones listed above. It looks similar, is stored in a similar way and this way you can be sure that terrible extruded heat process is not ruining your dog food before it hits the bowl.
- If you are feeding a wet tin or pack of food, take a few minutes to read our wet food, home cooked and raw feeding article. Same rules apply, read the label and check meat content.
- If you are interested in raw but a little intimidated by it, again read our wet food, home cooked and raw feeding article.
- If your dog has any intolerance or allergies, look for grain free products and ones with no artificial ingredients. Be careful of pet companies selling products labelled as ‘natural’ check the ingredients yourself to see just how ‘natural’ they are as it is a popular word to use at the moment!
So the moment of truth.
The Wagnificent Review of the Best and Worst Dog Foods 2017
Best Dry Dog Food
This was a difficult decision, as there are some increasingly good dry foods on the market. Dry foods aren’t for everyone with the with various health issues of feeding your dog kibble, but for most busy families it is the best option for convenience. We had quite a battle in the Wagnificent office about who should ultimately get the title, but we took into consideration the cost, the quality of the ingredients and our personal experiences and this is what we came up with.
Shortlisted contenders for this title included: Aatu, Europa, Millie’s Wolfheart, Lupo, Markus Muhle, Gentle and Carnilove.
WINNER: Eden Holistic Pet Food
Free from all cereal grains and know allergy ingredients and super clear labelling you cannot go far wrong with Eden. With a variety of flavours to choose from plus a new semi moist range, Eden Holistic are a name to remember. Eden has an impressive 80/20 range, with 80% from animal sources and 20% from fruit, veg and herbs. This is what we mean when we say: ‘All killer, no filler’. The meat content means that it is suitable for all breeds and ages from puppy to senior.
Sample bags are available for £5 postage from Eden Pet Foods.
Or you can buy a choice of products from .
Worst Dry Dog Food
It’s a tough decision on this final ‘winner’ or should be say loser, as there were so many in our shortlist to consider including: Wagg, Frolic, Pedigree, Beneful, Royal Canin and Science Plan. All under perform in the meat percentage and many had additives and ingredients that we simply would not want to introduce to our beloved dogs. We had to choose just one ‘winner’ for this title and hands down it has to be Bakers.
LOSER: Bakers Adult Complete
Low meat content and packed full of additives and colourings! Despite this the manufacturer Nestle/Purina spend a small fortune in adverts and store placement to keep this terrible food as the number 2 UK market leader! We personally, would not feed this to our dogs. Ever.
Naturally we have not included a link to buy Bakers, because quite frankly its available in every supermarket and petrol station! That alone should tell you all you need to know about this brand.
If you have found this article useful please check out our follow up article – Wet food, home cooked and raw feeding, so you can make an informed and well round decision about what YOU choose to feed your pet.
If nothing else we hope that by reading this article you will READ THE LABEL on your current food and make an informed choice.
The Wagnificent Team