How To Choose The Right Dog Food


Photo by J. Nichole Smith |

Finding the right food to feed your dog has never been more difficult. Ironically, this is because we live in an era when we have never had so much to choose from in the dog food aisle.

Manufacturers both giant and small are producing more and more variations of foods theoretically targeted at everything from particular breeds to different ages, and dogs with allergies. This is, of course, good news provided you are able to navigate the marketing language and land on a good, nutritious food for your dog. But that can be more challenging than it may appear.

How to Choose a Good Dog Food

  • The majority of low quality food contains byproducts, cereal fillers, additives, artificial colors and preservatives.
  • If the first three ingredients of the food you feed your dog are corn, soy, wheat or byproducts, chances are the food is low grade and not giving your dog the good nutrition he needs.
  • If one of the first three ingredients contains a good meat source, the ingredient list is short and the food is naturally preserved, then there is a greater chance that the food is of reasonable quality and will include the kind of things you want to be feeding your dog.
  • Some scientists and veterinary behaviorists believe that a high protein diet may contribute to aggressive and/or reactive behavior while others believe that protein content has no impact on general behavior.
  • If you are feeding a high performance food to a dog that does nothing more than lie on the couch all day, this might contribute to his discomfort if he doesn't get the outlet he needs to burn off the food throughout the day.
  • The impact of feeding your dog a good quality food that is free of corn, soy, wheat and other cereal fillers as well as artificial colors and preservatives such as BHT, might mean your dog spends less time at the vet and lives a longer, healthier life.

Most behavior is influenced by physiological processes including activity of neurotransmitters and hormones. Since these chemicals are synthesized from dietary nutrients it stands to reason that the nutrients consumed can influence the levels of some of those chemicals and the processes they are involved in. Deficiencies of certain minerals, vitamins and fatty acids may contribute to reactive and even aggressive behavior and a poor quality diet will miss some of these vital nutrients. (James O’Heare – Aggressive Behavior in Dogs)
Should I feed my dog raw, dry kibble or meat?
There are many great foods on the market from raw food to kibble and because there is so much choice, it really is a matter of finding a good quality food your dog likes. Some dogs do very well eating raw food, for example, while others become constipated and need to have a slightly lighter diet. Most people like to feed their dogs a mixture of meat and kibble that makes up a complete diet, while others prefer to home cook for their dogs.

  • Dogs should be fed twice a day with puppies under the age of six months being fed more regular meals.
  • Small dogs tend to like to eat little and often, while larger dogs like to consume large quantities very quickly.
  • If your dog eats too quickly you can either feed him his meals in an activity toy such as a treat ball or purchase a bowl with dividers that help slow the act of eating down. It is much better for dogs to chew their food than to inhale it.

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8 thoughts on “How To Choose The Right Dog Food

  1. michaelpellis

    This doesn't help me navigate the dog food aisle. Food labelling is a nightmare because of the plethora of names and labels used. What I would value is a "Which" style report on the big brand pet foods by an independent trustworthy and informed source. Is there such a report anywhere?

  2. April Bartholomew

    Michael, check out for an in-depth break down of ingredients and how they related to the quality of dog food. He also rates them on a scale of 1-5 and tells you, in layman terms, why he rates them the way he does. Very helpful!!

  3. Sian van Es

    My dog refuses to eat dog food and I have to say that I wouldn't eat it myself. I did try to persevere for days and he did eventually eat the high quality brands recommended by my vet. He came out in allergies with masses of sores on his back. I looked at the internet and found recommendation from a specialist in Ontario, Canada. Meat tends to be from D3 sources (already dead, diseased or drugged). He now has either pasta or rice or potato with cheaper cuts of meat and a little veg, such as peas or carrots. He has been doing just fine ever since. It actually works out cheaper than tinned food. So I make a big batch and freeze it in meal sized portions. I do have to stop people from eating it, because it is actually quite nice. To this I also add extra probiotic and minerals, but that is something my vet helps me with. So it is possible. Oh and a friend of mine did the same to her two staffies. One was really having problems, he was a rescued bait dog and has actually put on weight and is looking much healthier. She is delighted.

  4. michaelpellis

    April, many thanks for the link to However it seems that this list is USA based and many of the brands listed do not seem to available here in the UK. Similarly most of the brands in my local store are not listed on Anyone know any similar listings that are useful in the UK?

  5. April Bartholomew

    I'm sorry that many of the foods aren't available but you can at least use the ingredient list of the 5-star rated foods to compare to labels of foods you do have available.

  6. Alex Jennings

    Thanks for sharing this article with us, Victoria! I've been interested in finding the right food for my dog, so he can remain healthy. I'll be sure to lessen the amounts of corn,soy, and wheat, like you've suggested. I exercise with my dog often, so I think I'm going to feed him some extra meat to keep him going. I think it's interesting that dog food affects animals behavior.

    Alex Jennings | Dog Food

  7. Tracey Wallace

    Hi, what are your views on a raw diet. I have a 13 month Tibetan terrier who started out on kibble. He has been on Nutriments raw for almost 6 months as he was having lots of tummy issues. Up until recently he has been fine but has had an upset tummy for the last week and my vet wasn't very supportive of the raw diet. He has an awful habit of eating other dogs poo whilst off lead. Is there a food you'd recommend for sensitive tummy?

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