Meat-rich and grain-free -- and cheaper than super-premium canned dog foods -- Doctors Foster & Smith makes a good alternative, reviews say.
Nothing artificial -- but a few controversial ingredients. Doctors Foster & Smith promises "no artificial preservatives, colors, or by-products." Its first three ingredients are "ocean white fish," fish broth and salmon -- a "generous amount of meat" and lower carbs than the average canned dog food, says Mike Sagman at DogFoodAdvisor.com. Minerals are proteinated for easy absorption.
There are a few controversial ingredients in the mix. Carrageenan is a thickener that has been linked to intestinal disease. Sodium selenite carries more risk of toxic accumulation than selenium yeast. (Both ingredients are also present in Newman's Own.) Finally, this food contains garlic powder; in rare cases, garlic has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.
No recalls for the canned food. During the deadly 2007 melamine recalls, one flavor of Doctors Foster & Smith dry food was recalled. None of the brand's food has been recalled since, although the brand recalled some supplements in 2010 due to possible salmonella (none had tested positive for the bacteria). By contrast, Newman's Own has a spotless recall history.
Doctors Foster & Smith tells one reviewer that its ingredients come from the U.S. (except for the added vitamins and minerals -- the company gave no source for them). Its cans are not bisphenol A (BPA)-free, that source points out; BPA is a chemical linked to reproductive problems, cancers and other diseases.
You can do better for the price. Experts mostly favor super-premium canned dog foods -- especially the grain-free, mostly meat ones like Fromm Family Gold Salmon and Chicken Pate (Est. $2.50 for a 13-oz. can) . Doctors Foster & Smith compares pretty well with those pricier foods: It's mostly meat, no grain, and it skips the dubious by-products, cheap fillers, and artificial colors and preservatives you'll often find in supermarket dog foods.
Still, some Newman's Own Organics canned varieties -- including the Organic Beef & Liver -- cost less, and experts are more impressed with Newman's Own's ingredient list and safety record. Newman's Own is the Best Reviewed dog food in this class.
Susan Thixton researches dozens of brands of dog food and their individual flavors, including Doctors Foster & Smith Fish & Potato. She rates each brand and flavor based on the safety and quality of its ingredients.
Review: Drs Foster & Smith Fish & Potato Formula Adult Dog Food Can, Susan Thixton, As of January 2014
Doctors Foster & Smith canned dog food earns the highest 5-star rating here, based on Mike Sagman's analysis of the Fish & Potato flavor. Sagman points out a couple of controversial ingredients, but overall he praises its meat-rich, low-carb formula.
Review: Drs. Foster and Smith Dog Food (Canned), Mike Sagman, Updated Nov. 9, 2013
Mary Straus names Doctors Foster & Smith to her list of the best canned dog foods. She doesn't discuss it much -- just praises its "high-quality ingredients" and "high meat content."
Review: Canned Dog Foods and Refrigerated or Frozen Cooked Foods, Mary Straus, Updated Jan. 3 , 2014
4. Whole Dog Journal
Each year, Whole Dog Journal publishes a list of approved dry dog foods (canned foods are on a separate list). An accompanying article explains what ingredients to look for (and avoid) in your dog's food.
Review: Whole Dog Journal's 2013 Dry Dog Food Review, Nancy Kerns, February 2013
Doctors Foster & Smith had one variety of dry dog food caught up in the widespread pet food recalls of 2007, due to tainted ingredients from China. None of its canned foods were recalled.
Review: Melamine Contaminated Pet Foods - 2007 Recall List - Dog - Doctors Foster & Smith, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Updated June 8, 2009