What every best Dog Food has:
- Complete nutrition.
- Whole meat or a named meat meal as its top ingredient.
- No fillers or low-quality grains.
On this site, Susan Thixton rates big- and small-brand dog foods based on their ingredients, nutritional benefits, freedom from controversial ingredients and other attributes. Nearly 3,300 brands are reviewed, covering canned food, kibble, raw food, dehydrated food, and treats. Thixton reports on the manufacturing facilities and supply chains for each brand. Controversial ingredients are flagged.
Susan Thixton also maintains this website about all things pet food-related. This is an excellent place to learn about recalls or any dog food safety concerns or issues. Thixton also publishes a yearly list of the foods she would feed her own pets (available for a donation, starting at $10). There are 19 dog foods listed for 2018, including one kibble and one canned food, with the rest being raw, cooked, or freeze-dried/dehydrated options. None of the foods are considered to be an economy choice, and none can be purchased at grocery stores or big-box pet stores.
The Food and Drug Administration posts pet food recalls here, organized by date. This is the website to visit to find out whether a dog food you're feeding -- or considering feeding -- has been recalled.
Dog Food Advisor rates dog foods from 1 to 5 stars, based on their ingredients and nutritional value. Site owner Mike Sagman gives a bottom-line assessment, highlights controversial ingredients and often answers reader questions and comments. A large number of foods earn the site's highest rating, but that number is dwarfed by the many foods that score lower -- sometimes substantially so. Links to lists of dog foods in a number of categories that earn 4 stars or more are provided here, as is a list of 10 "great" wet and dry dog foods. A shorter but continuously updated Editors' Choice list is also available, but requires a subscription.
Mary Straus is a self-described "dogaholic" who is knowledgeable about dog health and nutrition. This site includes a lengthy and informative discussion about feeding needs (for homemade diets and otherwise), with specific commercial food recommendations. Straus briefly explains why she recommends each food, but she doesn't rate the foods. Separate lists of canned and kibble (including dehydrated kibble) dog foods are regularly maintained.
Dog Food Guru provides reviews and information about dog food including a list of top choices. In addition you can search for foods by their rating, get specific recommendations for certain breeds, and get recommendations in many cases for specific diets, such as limited ingredients or weight control.
Each year, Whole Dog Journal publishes a lists of approved dog foods. The criteria used are rigorous, with an emphasis on high-quality protein sources. Other content includes discussions of what makes a dog food high quality, how to find the best choices for your dog and budget by reading ingredient labels and more. However, except for some teaser copy, most articles are only available to paid subscribers.
PetFoodTalk.com is like several other dog food review sources as it makes its recommendations based on the quality of the ingredients and how appropriate they are for feeding to a dog. Top products are named and rated, and a rating for relative cost is provided. User feedback gleaned from the internet is shared in a The Word on the Street section. Ratings seem balanced, and the editors don't hesitate when it comes to saying whether or not a dog food is high quality.
Reviews.com follows the same methodology as other sites that review dog foods, examining ingredient lists and considering factors such as recall history and country of origin of some products. The site's admittedly strict criteria eliminates a number of foods that score well elsewhere, but 10 dry brands and 26 wet brands are top rated. Brands that failed to make the cut are also named, and the reasoning behind those decisions is listed.
Amazon sells a wide variety of dog foods, ranging from supermarket varieties to high-quality foods that are hard to find anywhere else. Popular foods often get hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of reviews. Write-ups can vary in quality, but many are long and helpful accounts of a dog owners' satisfaction in the short and long term with the food in question.
This is the website of Petco, a large pet supply company. Here, users can provide reviews and ratings of dog food and other products. Although many foods get only a handful of ratings, some get high grades in dozens and sometimes hundreds of reviews. Reviews tend to be shorter than at Amazon, however.
Only Natural Pet is another good source for user reviews especially for higher-grade dog foods Reviews list pros and cons and a bottom-line opinion about whether the reviewer would recommend a dog food to a friend, along with a brief write-up. Many of the reviews are from those who have been verified as buyers.
Chewy is another online seller of dog food that's worth checking out. Many of the foods here have significant owner feedback, often totaling hundreds of reviews, and sometimes thousands. Write-ups tend to be short, but still helpful, and most say whether or not they would recommend the food to another dog owner.
Pet Flow is another online pet food retailer. The site has a good selection of wet and dry foods, and many have a decent amount of feedback, though often a bit less than what we see at the sites above.
This government site goes into great detail about labeling regulations and industry standards. A great resource for devout label-readers, the article gives guidelines for spotting label trickery, including, for example, the 25 percent rule. If the named ingredients make up at least 25 percent of the product but less than 95 percent, the name must include a qualifying descriptive term, such as "beef dinner for dogs." No pet-food guidelines or ratings are found here, however.
This site belongs to a breeder of Labrador retrievers. This article looks at gimmicks and labeling with a critical eye. The author's position is that named by-products are OK -- in the wild, dogs certainly eat organs and other parts considered unpalatable by humans -- but unidentified by-products are not. The author states that her dogs do best on mid-range dog food (neither the most expensive nor the least) but no recommendations are made.