It is quite hard to find people who really don’t like dogs. Dog’s are an incredibly important part of many people’s lives in the U.S., and their unconditional love is something people just can’t get enough of. To make sure our dogs are well looked-after, happy and healthy they need things like adequate exercise, trips to the vet, and of course the right nutrition.

The below guide will lay out the most important features of good dog food to make sure you are getting the best one possible for your little guy or girl. When selecting dog food, you must pay close attention to basic criteria such as the type of dog (pedigree or not), age, physical condition and lifestyle. Below we will examine some of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a food for your pet.

Key Facts

  • Not all dog foods are created equal. There are premium brands that are more expensive and use better ingredients; regular brands that use more average ingredients, and generic brands. More details will be given throughout this guide about the quality differences of dog food.
  • A dog’s nutrition and health are intimately linked: the more you invest (time, but not always a lot of money) in picking the best foods, the healthier they’ll be. If you don’t know how to find the best foods possible for your dog, he or she may suffer for it.
  • You can find dry, wet, and semi-wet foods on the market. In this guide, we will write mostly about dry dog food because in our opinion, it is the dog food that is best suited to all types of breeds. if you aren’t entirely sure what your dog should be eating, it’s best to talk to vet.

Ranking: The best dog food on the U.S. market

Did someone give you a dog as a gift? Did you take an abandoned one into your home? Having a dog, regardless of how you got him or her, is a big undertaking, and often a very rewarding one. When owning a dog, you not only have to take it for a walk regularly but also look after their health (digestion, teeth and hair quality, among others), all of which is best done by providing your pet with a good, healthy diet.

No. 1: Wellness Core – Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a specially formulated dry dog food for small breeds. It comes in either a 4 pound or 12 pound bag and is made from only the best 100 per cent grain free, protein rich ingredients. It contains premium quality turkey and chicken and meets a small breed’s calorie requirements. There are no what, corn, soy, or meat by-products in this dog food, just pure nutrition to keep your dog happy and healthy. It is made right here in the United States and is completely backed by the Wellness Core guarantee.

This is a great smelling, great tasting premium quality good food that your dog will love and come running for. This is also a GMO-free product, so you can be confident you are giving your pooch only all-natural ingredients. Truly a great high quality product that will keep your furry friend happy, healthy, and focused on the unique calorie intake needs of smaller breeds. If you want to try and start your dog on a raw food diet, but want to ease into it with dog food first, this is a great way to go.

No. 2: Canidae – All Life Stages Dry Dog Food

Canidae’s All Life Stages Dry Dog Food is a premium all-natural dog food that is ideally suited to provide the nutritional and protein requirements for dogs of all ages. They get protein from chicken, lamb, turkey, and fish meals that are high in nutrients, while also containing probiotics, antioxidants, as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. This product contains no soy, corn, or wheat. For larger breeds, it comes in turkey and brown rice. This is a big bag, available in 5, 15, 30, and 44-pound sizes.

It can be difficult if you live in a multi-dog household and have to provide different food formulas to different dogs (including breeds and ages). With Canidae’s All Life Stages Dry Dog Food, you get something that you can give to all your dogs with complete confidence. This food is made to meet AAFCO nutritional levels and the meat quality is fantastic. If you want a multi-dog food that is packed full of protein and other important nutrients for your dog’s overall health, this is a great product at an affordable price.

No. 3: Diamond Naturals – Adult Dog

Diamond Naturals Adult Dog formula is an imported real beef protein-based dog food that looks, tastes, and smells great. The real pasture raised beef and high quality whole grain give your adult dog everything he or she needs to be at their best. It also contains adequate levels of vitamin E and selenium to keep their coats lustrous and healthy. Enhanced with all the right superfoods and probiotics, this is a dog food formula that you can feel great about giving to your adult dog.

It contains no corn, wheat, or soy, just pure protein and nutritional goodness. Thanks to the probiotics, and superfoods like blueberries, oranges, and spinach, this product doesn’t just provide better quality protein than other brands, but it helps to maintain a healthy immune system. Diamond Naturals puts a lot of love and care into this dog food. From the package to the look and feel of the food itself, you can tell you are giving your dog the food and nutrition they were meant to have to keep them happy, healthy, and living a long, full life.

No. 4: Sojos – Complete

Sojos Complete is a completely natural freeze-dried raw and dehydrated grain-free dog food. This blend contains no potatoes, just nutrient-rich superfoods. All you have to do is add water and your dog has a healthy, great-tasting blend to keep them going all day long. There are also no soy fillers, artificial flavors or colors, and no preservatives. There are no ingredients from China on here, so you can rest assured that you are giving your pooch 100 per cent high quality ingredients that are absolutely safe to eat.

In order to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of the finer ingredients in each serving it is a good idea to shake the bag. This food is available in puppy, adult, and senior dog formula and comes in a wide range of flavors, including beef, goat, lamb, turkey, chicken, pork, and turkey and salmon. Available in a wide range of bag sizes, this product can be purchased small enough to take on the go with you, and large enough to keep at home. Keep in mind that the food may need to soak slightly longer than the bag’s recommendation, based on what your dog likes.

No. 5: Natural Ultramix – Grain Free Red Meat Recipe With Raw Bites

Natural Ultramix’s Grain Free Red Meat Recipe With Raw Bites is a fantastic grain-free pure beef dog food that provides more high quality protein packed nutrition for your dog in every bite. The kibbles are also mixed with pieces of real fruit and vegetables to give your dog the holistic nutrition he or she requires to be happy and healthy every day. The natural fiber is good for digestion, so this is a good food to give to dogs with sensitive digestion systems.

The specially formulated antioxidant-rich food contains zero corn, soy, or wheat. This product is cooked right here in the United States and made for owners who insist on giving their dog(s) the absolute best. This is a product you can feel great about giving to your pet, and one that will keep them in good health and good spirits. An easy-on-the tummy dog food that is great for dogs with digestive issues, or dogs that have allergies that are easily triggered by foods that are not as pure.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about dog food

Almost every dog owner out there wonders what kind of food they should buy their dog. The below section will answer some of the most commonly asked consumer questions surrounding dog food selection and give you all the necessary information to properly feed your dog. By reading and following this guide, you will be able to provide your dog complete happiness and improve their life expectancy.

There are some dog breeds that are affected by changes in their environment or behaviours of their owners.
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What is dog food and what are the advantages of dry food?

Dry dog food typically comes in small pellets or kibbles that contain all of the necessary nutrients and proteins to make sure our furry friends are happy and healthy. There are, generally speaking, three different common kinds of dry food you can give your dog.

  • Premium feed: This is the highest quality food so it tends to be the most costly. however, if you give your dog better-quality food, they will have better digestion – including less gas, better stools, improved health and will generally feel satisfied for longer.
  • Regular feed: Tends to be purchased more frequently, mainly because it is more affordable. While it is more affordable, that is not to say that everything in this group is poor quality. What it means is that in order to find an above-average product you will need to spend a little bit more money.
  • Generic feed: This is the most common kind of food sold in supermarkets. Normally offered by commercial brands and they use poor-quality ingredients (typically with a lot of cereals and corn, which can make dogs obese).

In this article we will focus exclusively on dry food as it is the most common form of dog food and the most beneficial in terms of price, storage and durability. Additionally, dry dog foods typically contain more and better nutrients and is a more balanced option than other alternatives. Below is a table featuring some of the pros and cons of dry dog foods:

Advantages
  • Economical
  • Eliminates plaque
  • Is not as messy
  • Lasts for longer
  • Simple to ration
  • Improved digestion (especially premium or high-end ranges)
Disadvantages
  • Very dry, so your dog needs to drink water frequently
  • Sometimes it’s difficult to find a nice tasting dry food
  • Dog may become bored due to repetition

What types of dog food are there?

On top of the previously mentioned benefits, we should examine some other types of food so you have a fuller understanding of what’s on the market.  Within the product ranking section, we provided exclusively dry dog food products on U.S. Amazon, but there is also wet and semi-wet dog food available on the market.

When we set out to provide our canine friends with the best nutrition possible, we cannot simply assume that one type of dog food is self-evidently better than another. We have to consider what else might be out there. Putting together an adequate and balanced nutrient-rich diet depends on understanding what sorts of combinations are the best for your dog’s overall health.

Types of food Characteristics
Dry Bestselling dog food. Usually has better quality ingredients. Foundation of a healthy diet
Wet Comes in cans with lots of water and moist food. It can stain a dog’s teeth and make for constant cleaning of bowls
Semi-wet Sold in plastic packages. Usually has a poor dietary mix

Is wet dog food suitable for my dog?

It really depends on the brand and the particular ingredients it uses. Buying wet dog food from a dollar store is unlikely to have everything your dog needs in it. Keep in mind that different brands make different foods for different markets and dog owners. If you are going to buy wet dog food for your pet, make sure it is high quality.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of wet dog food:

Advantages Disadvantages
Better hydration Goes bad quickly so cannot stay in the dog’s bowl for long
High-end products can provide good nutritional value and balance Usually generates tartar and obesity because dogs tend to eat more as it is more appetising
Great choice for dogs with allergies or with large diets

What about semi-wet dog food?

People always wonder whether semi-wet food is a good option, given all of the options on the market when one goes shopping. The general rule to go by when shopping for dog food is that semi-wet food has the lowest nutritional value and is the cheapest. Feeding your dog this kind of food will likely be bad for its health in the long run.

Advantages
  • Good dog reward, as well as an alternative to dog treats
  • Good taste and smell, which makes your dog want to eat more
Disadvantages
  • Contains more calories
  • Low quality ingredientes

Is it better to buy dog food or make home-cooked food?

Many dog owners have opted to start making and preparing their own dog food, rather than buy from the store. There is nothing wrong with doing this, so long as nutritional requirements are still met. This method of feeding your dog is for those with more experience caring for dogs and is generally not the best idea for new dog owners.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of homemade dog food:

Advantages Disadvantages
Dogs may prefer homemade food more than dry or wet food Many owners don’t fully understand their pet’s nutritional requirements and overload them with meat. This can create health problems and more visits to the vet
More variety in your dog’s diet, as long the food is prepared well Extra effort as you have to prepare the food yourself
You can play around with different organic ingredients and flavors. Needs to be consumed quickly as it does not keep well at room temperature
Better stools and less gas Keep in mind that preparing your own food will be more expensive than buying food.

How much dog food does my puppy need?

If you have a female dog who has recently given birth, or a new puppy it is important to know that their nutritional requirements are quite different from an adult dog’s. As a dog grows, you should slowly change their food and eating habits so they eventually become accustomed to eating dry dog food. The below table will lay out the puppy eating requirements through each stage:

Puppy age Nutritional needs
Up to 8 weeks Breast milk

From the third week onwards, small portions of wet food can be offered as it is easier to digest

In the sixth week, you can introduce puppy food, in combination with breast milk

2 to 3 months Puppy should eat up to 4 times a day. If it is a small breed (like the Chihuahua), up to 5 times a day

You must buy quality puppy food. If in doubt, consult your vet

From 3 to 6 months Reduce the frequency of feeding to 3 times a day
From 6 months to 1 year Your dog should eat twice a day

Special requirements for adult dogs

While puppies have unique dietary requirements, adult dogs can eat a wide range of foods. This is why it is important to adapt the food to different lifestyles and routines. A dog’s weight and size must be considered. The below table will make it more clear:

Dog size Dog weight Special requirements
Very small Less than 10 lbs Additional calcium, to avoid constipation and plaque formation
Small Up to 24lbs Foods with high energy
Medium Between 24 and 55 lbs Take care of the skin and natural defences
Large Between 56 and 84 lbs Give digestible foods for good joint and digestive health
Extra large More than 86 lbs Review heart health frequently and give additional antioxidants

How much dog food is needed per day?

This question can be answered by factoring in things like a dog’s breed, size, physical build, health, and age. Healthy dogs eat differently than unhealthy ones, and pregnant dogs eat differently than non-pregnant ones. Generally speaking, they should consume 2-3 per cent of their weight per day in food.

When you weight your pet (once a month) calculate 3 per cent of that amount and you will know how much food to give your dog. As well as this, almost all pet food packages include a guide table, detailing how much and how often the food should be given.

How do I feed my dog if they are overweight?

You first need to determine if your dog really is overweight. To have an accurate idea, hold your dog and feel his or her sides. If you can feel their ribs easily, this indicates they are at a healthy and normal weight. If you can’t feel their ribs, they likely could stand to shed a few pounds. Dogs often experience weight issues when owners don’t buy them the proper dog food (or give them too much human food).

Human foods, like pasta or french fries, have a lot of carbs that end up breaking down into sugar and accumulating as fat. It is not a good idea to feed a dog from the table, or leftovers from dinner. Dogs need to eat on time and maintain a stable eating routine as well as eating only their own food.

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Did you know that the “fingerprint” of dogs is their nose and each dog’s nose is unique

My dog doesn’t increase in weight, what dog food do I give?

If this is happening your dog might not be eating enough food, as opposed to not getting enough of the right nutrients in their diet. You might be giving the dog poor quality food, or they could be suffering from intestinal parasites. There is no point in overfeeding your dog or trying force feed your dog extra food. You should rethink what you’re feeding your dog or talk to a vet about the issue.

If you choose foods composed of prebiotics, you will be offering dog food with good bacteria for the large intestine.
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Some breeds of dog are hypersensitive to changes in their environment and changes in the behaviour of their owners. This can sometimes lead to eating issues. In this event, relaxing your dog and being close to them while they eat might help to solve the problem.

If poor nutrition is the cause of low weight in your dog, we highly recommend that you invest in premium dog foods, as they have many health benefits (better digestions and greater assimilation of nutrients). You will need to give your dog at least 23 per cent protein and food that tastes better. To achieve this you could mix a can of wet dog food with some high-quality dry food.

Shopping Criteria

Now that you have all of the necessary information, you need to make a choice and decide which dog food you’re going to buy. Below are some important criteria to have in mind so that you get the best dog food for your pet. Feeding your dog properly is not always easy, but if you take some time to research, you can choose a high quality product that will be very beneficial for your dog. We will delve into the following shopping criteria so you can make the best choice possible.

  • Ingredients
  • Vitamins
  • Aid the defences
  • Prebiotics
  • Premium dog food

Ingredients

The first thing you should focus on when considering a dog food is the ingredient list. This is of fundamental importance to your dog’s psychological and physical health. The below list contains some of the common nutrients found in dog food, sorted from highest to lowest nutritional value:

  • Protein: A fundamental component of a dog’s diet (good for muscle growth, bone density and a healthy immune system). Should make sure to get a high-protein food. Proteins can be grouped into different kinds.
  • Lamb: Dogs love lamb because it is high in both calories and protein. Giving your dog foods made with lamb will give them more consistent stools (especially among animals with digestive issues).
  • Chicken: Helps keeps muscles healthy and strong.
  • Salmon: Both high in protein and easy to assimilate, this is a great food for giving your dog a healthy coat and skin. It is also good for bones and teeth.
  • Fats: Also referred to as lipids or oils, they are an important part of a balanced diet for your dog. They make food taste good and provide energy. They are also good for helping dogs maintain their body temperature, as well as activating muscles and organs.
  • Carbohydrates: These are sugars and crystallised carbohydrates that, with fats, provide energy. A dog has a short digestive tract, so you should only offer him or her pre-digested cereals. If you don’t, your dog will not be able to digest it as it passes through their digestive system, resulting in gas, and diarrhoea.

Vitamins

Getting sufficient vitamins is a key part of feeding your dog. Things like vitamin B helps maintain healthy and silky coats. If you give your dog poor-quality food with low vitamin profiles, you can end up creating issues with their nervous, reproductive, and/or immune systems, among others.

You should make sure to get a dog food with vitamins C, K, A, D, E, and B, which will ensure sufficient antioxidants, calcium, and phosphorus (good for the ossification of bones), antibacterial protection and optimal vision, among many other benefits.

[su_advice] In the U.S., many people like to take their pets outdoors and hiking with them, and they need the proper nutrients and energy if they are going to be able to handle it.[/su_advice]

Aid the defences

Dogs sometimes get sick, but preventing illness is always better than trying to cure it. To help keep your dog happy and healthy, choose foods that are good for their immune systems. A high-functioning immune system helps protect against bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.

Other things that can cause illness include temperature fluctuations, heightened stress, pollution and poor nutrition. Giving your dog things like omega-3, vitamins E and C, taurine and lutein in their diet can help ensure they stay healthy and well-protected.

Dogs should always eat on time and maintain a stable routine.
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Prebiotics

These are vegetable fibres that are not digested by the small intestine and encourage the growth of bacteria that is beneficial to the large intestine of your dog. Whereas probiotics are living organisms, prebiotics are not and are, therefore, capable of surviving rapid temperature fluctuations and are, therefore, suitable for dog food.

Instead of your dog specifically ingesting this bacteria as a tablet, if you choose foods made with prebiotics, you will be giving your dog food that has good gut flora and will also better regulate their hormones. Prebiotics are great at reducing inflammation and promote better nutrient absorption and assimilation.

Premium dog food

It should be quite apparent that investing in a good-quality premium dog food really is the way to go. High-end foods crafted responsibly and with care have better ingredients and more complete nutrition.

Top of the line ingredients and components are the two common features of high-quality dog foods. They also contain optimum fiber and mineral composition, and the foods are not overcooked. If your dog has unique dietary requirements, speak to your vet about a possible prescription food.

Getting a balanced and nutrient-rich diet requires knowing which foods to combine.
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Summary

Getting the right dog food is one of the most important things you can do as a dog owner. Supermarkets generally do not carry high quality products, and dog owners end up settling for mediocre foods because they seem easier on the wallet. If you buy cheap supermarket food, however, you might end up paying more in the long run anyway when it comes time to go to the vet.

If you stick to our food and nutrition guidelines above, you can rest assured to you are fully taking care of your dog’s dietary and nutritional needs. Owning a dog means taking care that you are meeting all of their needs, including their food and nutrition.

If you enjoyed this guide to dog food and found it helpful, share it with your friends and family on social media. Additionally, you can leave us a comment in the below section and let us know what you think!

(Source of featured image: Jaromír Chalabala: 26746497/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Our writers and editors at THEGOODESTATE.com focus on making your life easier by selecting the best available options on the U.S. market of everyday objects and supplements.