Dog food reviews have at least three valid shortcomings. They can never reveal the true quality of the raw materials that were used to make the products they attempt to judge.
Or the important research and nutritional design effort that went into making these products.
And they cannot evaluate the safety with which the raw materials and products were handled by a company when manufacturing, storing and shipping the finished goods.
So, rating the ultimate “as fed” condition of a specific pet food or predicting product recall events is impossible.
Why It’s Difficult to Control the Quality
of Dog Food Ingredients
Not only do most pet food companies conceal the origin of their ingredients, they also change the sources as well as the quality of those ingredients on a regular basis.
Many raw materials used to make dog foods are bought and sold in commercial-sized lots on the open market.
Bulk prices vary. And so does quality.
From day to day, it’s not unusual for an ingredient to come from a different farm, a different storage facility or a different state.
Even a different country.
Although better companies procure their ingredients directly from trusted manufacturers, others may buy their raw materials through brokers and middlemen.
And many times through less-reputable third party suppliers.
What’s worse, manufacturers are not legally required to report these changes to consumers.
That’s why the method used to review a product is so important.
An Objective Way to Review Dog Food
Although there are many ways to rate a dog food, we’ve settled on using the only reliable information we feel we can consistently trust.
We read and interpret government-regulated pet food labels. Nothing more. And we do this in two simple steps.
As reviewers, we don’t test dog food. We don’t taste it. And we rarely trust marketing hype. Manufacturer’s claims. Or the fancy artwork on the package.
Nor should you.
Nagging Questions Persist
Of course, like everyone else, we still yearn to know more…
- Where do the ingredients come from?
- Are they food grade? Feed grade? Or agricultural rejects?
- Are they fresh?
- Will my dog like the taste?
- Is the kibble the right size for my pet?
- Have they been tested for chemical or biological contamination?
These are all legitimate questions. Some of them can be answered by simply visiting a company’s website. Or calling their customer service number.
Yet remember, company information can be biased.. and almost always subject to change.
That’s why we’re reluctant to simply re-broadcast a manufacturer’s marketing message. We fear it could be misleading and provide a false sense of security to our readers.
Getting Help from the Real Life
Experiences of Others
Reviews can never predict results. However, there’s one valuable source of information that can help. It’s easy to access. Practical. And yet commonly overlooked.
Our readers comments.
So, be sure to check out the Comments section at the end of each review for a more complete picture of each dog food.
Before you buy.
There you’ll find a wealth of helpful information from our readers — dog owners and breeders as well as community-minded veterinary professionals, nutritionists and dog food companies.
- Tips and suggestions on feeding
- Candid opinions about specific dog foods
- Reports of real life experiences and results
- Comments about a company’s customer service
Best of all, find out whether our readers’ dogs give a “tails up” or a “tails down” to the taste of a particular product.
What Our Stars Really Mean
We tend to dislike dog foods made with by-products — especially plant-based by-products. And we downgrade recipes that contain:
- Generic animal fats
- Anonymous meat ingredients
- Synthetic chemical preservatives
- Plant-based meat-protein substitutes
We recognize that protein fed in excess of the minimum nutritional requirement of an animal is simply burned as energy.
However, we also believe in the commonsense logic of mimicking a dog’s natural ancestral diet — in modeling a dog food after what an animal would naturally consume in the wild.
So, we shamelessly favor dog foods rich in meat.
In general, a five star dog food is one that is high in meat content and free of most by-products, suspicious chemicals or plant-based protein boosters.
So, does that mean a one-star dog food is bad for your dog?
No, probably not. A product with a low star rating isn’t necessarily a bad product. Some dogs can thrive on these recipes.
It’s just that we passionately believe you should know what you’re paying for. So, dog foods made with by-products and less meat should, of course, cost less, too.
The Bottom Line
The reviews published on this website are not intended to suggest that feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits for your pet. They should only be used as a tool to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.
Consumers are forever at the mercy of dog food manufacturers. Even with their well-meaning promises and guarantees, each batch of ingredients can be notably different from the previous one.
The variations in quality of the finished foods can be significant.
So, as a policy, we deliberately avoid reporting the source or the condition of the ingredients mentioned in our reviews.
Safety Problems Are a Certainty
Because of these quality variations, dog food recalls are inevitable, even from the very best companies. No written assurance from any manufacturer (or product reviewer) can ever guarantee safety.
Your best defense? Be sure to check back regularly for all the latest comments, reviews and information about dog food recalls.
And please don’t forget to share what you know about a dog food or a company. Because your knowledge and experience can make a difference.