The Problem with Dog Food Reviews


Dog food reviews can be helpful when you’re comparing products.

However, it’s impossible to judge the actual quality of the raw materials that were used to make each specific batch of food available for purchase.

Or the important research and nutritional design effort that went into creating each recipe.

And no review can accurately reflect the safety practices that were taken — or neglected — by a company when processing, storing and shipping the finished goods.

Why Ingredient Quality
Can Be So Difficult to Judge

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.

How We Rate 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.

  1. We study the ingredients list
  2. We evaluate the meat content

Of course, 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.

Going Beyond the Label

Just the same, a pet food label is a great place to start.

However, there are many important items that are missing from the label — additional facts you’d still like to know before making a purchase. For example…

  • Will my dog like the taste?
  • Is the kibble size right for my pet?
  • Where do the ingredients come from?
  • Are they food grade? Or agricultural rejects?
  • Have the raw materials been tested for contamination?
  • Are the finished goods tested before they are shipped?

Some of these questions can be answered by simply visiting a company’s website. Or calling their customer service number.

Yet company information can be biased — and is 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

No review can ever predict results. Yet there are other reliable sources of valuable information.

Talk to friends. Ask your vet. And check out the Comments section at the end of every review.

That way, you’ll get a more complete picture of each product you’re considering — before you feed it to your pet.

In the Comments area and in our Forums, you’ll find a wealth of helpful information from other readers — dog owners, breeders, community-minded veterinary professionals, nutritionists and dog food companies.

  • Feeding tips and suggestions
  • Candid opinions about specific brands
  • Reports of actual experiences and results
  • Comments about a company’s customer service

More importantly, find out from others whether their dogs give a “tails up” or a “tails down” to the taste of a particular food.

About Our Star Ratings

When evaluating a product, we tend to favor dog foods made with quality plant and animal ingredients — especially named meats. And we downgrade recipes that contain:

  • Generic animal fats
  • Anonymous meat ingredients
  • Synthetic chemical preservatives
  • Plant-based meat-protein substitutes

And because we respect a dog’s natural carnivorous bias, 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 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 dog food with a low star rating isn’t necessarily a bad product.

It’s just that we believe you should always 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

Because of all the variables that go into making any food product, it’s important to keep in mind that…

Each dog food can only be as good as the specific batch from which it was made — and different batches can vary significantly.

Since there’s no way to test each product, we must all rely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website.

As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

In any case, start with our star ratings.

Then, consider all the information you can also collect from other reliable sources before making your final decision on what to feed your precious pet.

  • Shawna

    I would agree that a dog needs a “balanced diet” but supplying the correct amino acids, vitamin, minerals, fatty acids etc can be more easily done in a minimally processed food over a highly processed food. Example — heat damages vitamin E. Manufacturers add alpha tocopherol (and sometimes mixed tocopherols) back in but you never see the four tocotrienols and how many of the four tocopherols are used — 2, 3 or all 4?). It is one of the tocotreinols that they now know is the anti-cancer vittie in the E group. The amino acid lysine is damaged at very low heat (much lower than the temps used for extruded kibbles). Since lysine is the limiting amino acid the whole bioavailability of the protein is thrown off. The amino acid taurine is lost in processing and most manufacturers don’t add it back in.

    How many humans do you know that NEVER eat any fresh foods (no veggies or fruits or meat for that matter). If all the humans you know eat extruded cereal (even complete and balanced cereal) then you can compare kibble eating dogs to them. My guess is however that most folks don’t eat only extruded and highly processed foods.

    It is not a myth that dogs have absolutely no “need” for carbohydrates – any carbs. That doesn’t mean that some can’t be beneficial but it does mean they are quite capable of meeting their nutritional needs without them. This data comes from Waltham, Purina Research and sites like that.

    My four pound Chihuahua found a dead baby bunny in the yard a few years back and started dining on said baby bunny. My foster dog killed and ate a squirrel. I feed raw but my neighbors two kibble fed Dachshunds kill and eat so much wildlife that the owners now only take them out on leash. It’s been that way for a few years now.

  • Sam McGowan

    It appears to me that what you’re actually saying is that your star ratings and other comments are really nothing but the personal opinions of the blog owners and contributors. You make the assumption that dogs are carnivores when they’re actually omnivores and have been eating what humans eat – including grains – for thousands of years. Yes, dogs should eat meat but meat has not been the primary food for them for a long, long time, especially not raw meat which they only got whenever their human companions killed an animal, whether wild or livestock. In fact, what a dog needs is the same thing a human does, a balanced diet.

  • Andy Delin

    There are Timersol free vaccines for rabies. I think Imrab and rabvac are the two. but you must ask for them at the vet. Also do not use multi-vaccines. Use the individual vaccines. at least 6 weeks apart. or titer for parvo and distemper.

  • Crazy4cats

    No, the calories are not listed anywhere on this site. I also feed my dogs mostly by calories. I typically go to the company website to get the information for a particular food. For example, I feed Victor grain free to my dogs frequently and the calories for all their foods are on the website:
    Not all companies have them listed, but most do. Good luck!

  • LCTB

    Thank you. I understand that, but I don’t see a calorie count listed in your description. I understand if there is a specific food I know the calorie count for I can figure it out myself, but for most of the foods I am looking at I don’t currently have that info. Do you list it somewhere I might be missing?

  • DogFoodie

    Hi LCTB,

    When you use the calculator, you put in the kcals of the food. That’s the information you need to make an apples to apples comparison of the recommended amount of food you would feed of each brand.

  • LCTB

    Thank you so much for this web site. I have learned so much in a short amount of time. One person pointed out to me that some higher quality foods have lower “serving size” requirements. ie – my brand might say 3 cups per day for our dogs size, but a top of the line brand might say less per comparable serving size – thereby making a price comparison more difficult. is there any way serving sizes could be included? I realize this could be beyond the scope of what you can do given approx. 4.000 dog foods compared. Maybe a calorie content which I could plug into your serving size calculator?

  • Dog_Obsessed

    I’m sorry you and your brother have to go through this. If he/you hasn’t already, stop feeding the food immediately. Don’t throw any of it away though. You might be able to send some of the food to the manufacture to be tested. Do not send all of the food, keep some for further testing. I think some vet schools can test food as well.

    Did the vet give the dog fluids or anything for the fever? That sounds like a pretty bad situation. I hope he feels better soon!

  • Crazy4cats

    Did the vet check the dog for Salmonella? That is the most common reason for recalls on dog food. Was the dog fed any treats? There has been a ton of recalls and issues with jerky treats for pets. I’m not sure where you can have the food tested. Did your brother ask the vet where to take it?

    I sure hope the dog gets better. Also, that someone with more info pops in here to give you some suggestions. Take Care!

  • ahunterswife

    Where would one go to get their dog food tested for something making the dog sick? My brother’s dog (right this minute) is very ill with a high fever and the vet cannot figure out why. No blockage, etc. They just opened a new bag of dog food three days before Christmas and by Saturday (12/27), he had a fever of 105.3 and VERY lethargic. May not be related, but it’s a pretty big coincidence. Any suggestions?

  • theBCnut

    Pugs get the same dose as Mastifs because of how the immune system works, but to me that sure does argue for not putting mercury in vaccines.

  • Bob K

    George – You bring up lots of issues and reason for concern. I am always amazed that a pug gets the same size vaccine as a Mastif. Few people or vets know about or conduct titer tests. The US food supply has major flaws as 3000 people die annually in the US, imagine how many more get sick but do not die. Hopefully this website is a step in the right direction for dog food and educations for the humans.

  • George Steven Milliken

    Amen to us being at the mercy of dog food suppliers and a lot of the marketing hype. When I feed dog food my dogs eat Merricks and they like it. Mostly I cook for them using fresh ingredients, sweet potato, carrots, green beans in addition to the meat being used. It turns out to be a healthy meal and less expensive than high end dog food. It does take a little planning which is why I have Merricks as a back up. I don’t feed raw because I do not trust even organic meets to be safe. In nature the dogs consumed foods that weren’t so interfered with by humans so I cook it. I decided to do this when one of my dogs developed an immune system problem where she became allergic to herself, from excessive vaccinations she had at the vets prompting. I started to think about dogs we had on the farm and they never had dog food, they ate what we ate and the only shot they ever got was for rabies. They all lived to be 15+ years and were healthy their entire life. I am not buying into the hype any longer of not feeding people food. Sure, don’t feed your dog any processed foods, breads, sweets and candies but if you do some research about national needs I think it is pretty easy to get out from under the Dog Food spell.

  • Susan Holmes

    garbage artificial BHT to perserve which has antifreeze

  • Susan Holmes

    I use to rep blue buffalo they do not use euthenised animal meat.

  • Jeffrey Heedles Sr

    pedigree dog food is thoroughly research before they put it it’s designed by the Waltham research facility my German Shepherd is a picky eater except with pedigree he eats it all up and looks great

  • Jeffrey Heedles Sr

    Jeff texas

  • Dori

    Maybe try a food that does not contain sweet potatoes. It would seem to me that you need to check both foods ingredients and find out what the similarities are then find a food to try that does not contain those ingredients. Since sweet potatoes are in both foods I would start eliminating that ingredient and look for others.

    Your dog sounds as though it has an intolerance to something in its food. Also, just a thought, what are you giving your him for treats? We often overlook the treats we are feeding and think it must be the food. Don’t get me wrong, it often is the food and the treats. Depending on what he is allergic to.

  • Cathy Lowe

    Merrick is a good food, but is very high in calcium and an English Mastiff shouldn’t have too much calcium.

  • Kathryn Parker

    Hello..we have a 4 month old English mastiff and he is itching to the point if sores..He was on Merrick pork and sweet potatoe We thought wed try simply natural duck and sweet potatoes.Is this a wise choice.? I am concerned on what to feed our awesome dog. A large breed!!

  • Shawna

    Again short on time but…..the pig feed was not what I was referring to as being species appropriate or even mentioned in my post. Specifically referring to “table scraps, what it could catch”..

    I believe industry still refers to extruded dog food as pellets but if I am incorrect in that I apologize. Alibaba makes a whole line of “dog food pellet making machines”.

  • Bill Dieterichs

    Hog feed is generally pelletized which is pushing the mixed feed ration through a die cap, those are not the same as the kibble in dog or cat food. Dog and cat foods are extruded to produce the kibble, which is putting the mixed ration through a screw type press under steam and pressure which begins to break down the proteins and especially the carbohydrates so that when fed to a dog or cat they can easily digest the dry food mixture in their short (as compared to humans or pigs) alimentary tract.
    My dog ate the pig feed because he was hungry and it was quick snack. But it also contained protein, carbs, fats , vitamins and mineral all the things that create a feed or food and were probably beneficial to her well-being.

  • Bill Dieterichs

    They should have a consumer line or email that you can contact them and ask Blue Brand that question.

  • Shawna

    As mentioned in the first paragraph of my post, I purposely add organ meats to my dogs diets (or look for those that include it when feeding commercial). I’ve fed kidneys, liver, brain, heart, gizzards, lung (treats) etc.

    The alpha’s in a pack of wolves are the breeding pair and eat the organs for the nutrient content which equates to healthy pups. This was seen in tribal human populations per Dr. Weston Price. The most nutritious foods (like liver and fish roe) were reserved for the young women and men of child rearing age. In his book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” he has pictures of individuals eating “traditional” diets and then those eating non-traditional. Those whose parents ate the traditional diet had broad faces with perfect teeth. Those on less nutritious diets (like a processed american diet or in the case of dogs, kibble) had narrower faces and crooked teeth. Very interesting

    Legally, if the “meal” is not a specified animal (like beef meal or chicken meal) it has to be labeled as such — “meat” and bone meal or meat meal as examples. If it is labeled as “chicken” meal and there is anything but chicken in it, the company can be fined. I’m not saying that all manufacturers are ethical and abide by the laws (some have been caught) but it is illegal.

  • Shawna

    You could be right about the lycopene (after extrusion). Apparently tomato pomace is used as a “roughage product” in animal feed. Likely the same reason used in pet feed. It can replace products like rice hulls, psyllium seed husk etc.

    Gluten meal is a high protein ingredient but as the owner of a dog with kidney disease, the protein in corn gluten meal is POOR quality. Bioavailability of corn is 45 per Dr. Foster & Smith website “Egg has the highest biological value and sets
    the standard by which other proteins are judged. Egg has a biological
    value of 100. Fish meal and milk are close behind with a value of 92.
    Beef is around 78 and soybean meal is 67. Meat and bone meal and wheat
    are around 50 and corn is 45.”

    Unless that corn, and worse corn gluten meal, is very carefully balanced with other sources of protein, much of the amino acids from that corn is going to end up as waste for the kidneys to filter out. Corn as a whole food might have some redeeming qualities, like linoleic acid, but corn gluten meal is a poor quality ingredient that doesn’t belong in dog food.

    There are many many foods that can be problematic for certain persons and pets. Many feel wheat is a quality ingredient but wheat can cause brain damage, temporary blindness and stroke like symptoms (called gluten ataxia). Dairy, from A1 cattle, can cause schizophrenia, autism, heart disease and type 1 diabetes in susceptible individuals due to the beta-casomorphin 7 in A1 dairy. Potatoes (and tomatoes) can cause rheumatoid arthritis and worsen other forms of arthritis. Dr. John Symes DVM lectures on how corn (as well as wheat, dairy and soy) can cause “villous atrophy” in humans as well as dogs. If one develops villous atrophy they can no longer absorb much of the digested foods eaten no matter what the quality of the original food.

    I personally don’t like grains, for the most part, in my dogs diet but I also wouldn’t feed foods high in potato or legumes or whatever on a day in day out basis for life.

  • Shawna

    Interesting!!! I’ll have to give this a try!! Definitely a much better way to utilize this cheap product in my opinion!! Thanks losul!!

  • LabsRawesome

    This is what I feed. I get it at my local pet store for $38.99 for a 30lb bag. I also use Victor’s Yukon River, it is a couple dollars more for the same size bag. Both are 5 star foods.I also use 5 star canned, Kirkland Cuts In Gravy. $18.99 for a case of 24 cans @ Costco. You don’t have to empty your wallet to feed decent 5 star foods. :)

  • Shawna

    I only have a sec to post so will have to address other comments later.

    You wrote “The dog was fed table scraps, what it could catch and other things found around the farm.” This is a much more species appropriate diet then pelleted kibble let alone a kibble such as Beneful. Kibble has only been around for a VERY short time in the dogs evolutionary history — I think something like 100 years. There’s no natural enzymes, no to little probiotics (with little diversity), synthetically derived nutrients etc.

  • losul

    There is a good use for corn gluten meal beyond cheap hog feed. It’s a much safer alternative to chemical weed and feeds for your lawn, especially for where pets roam, and actually works pretty darn well.

  • Dr J

    Well wolves do kinda life were corn is grown, but that is not the point. Dogs also eat horse manure and their own poop. I just saw a massive change in our old dogs when I changed them to a grain free diet. A lot of the tiny but persistent issues went away, when we changed their diet.

  • Bill Dieterichs

    Since wolves don’t typically live where corn is grown I haven’t observed them picking corn or peeling leaves, but I did see my dog jump into the pig pen on our farm where he would open the hog feeder and eat the complete grower/finisher hog diet. The dog was fed table scraps, what it could catch and other things found around the farm. This is when most pet foods were nothing more than pelleted livestock feeds made for dogs.
    He lived a long life.

  • Dr J

    Carbs are not horrible, but certain creatures are not able to deal with them in high quantities. How many wolves have you seen picking corn and peeling ears?

  • Dr J

    Monogastric simply means that they have one gastric tract unlike ruminants. However, humans and canines do have rather different monogastrict tracts. The dogs intestine is much shorter compared to humans, also they have a very different composition of enzymes, while we have plenty of enzymes that break down carbohydrates, dogs not have the same composition. Dogs are a lot more resistant to intestinal issues, especially infections simply because their intestinal lining is different than humans, plus the rapid passage times allow for a shorter exposure to bacteria for example.

  • Bill Dieterichs

    But a diet can have carbs in it and still be complete and balanced. Carbs aren’t “horrible” as some of the post by others on your site have indicated.

  • Bill Dieterichs

    My guess is that there is so little tomato pomace in most pet foods that the amount of lycopene received is insignificant. Have you tested tomato pomace for lyocene? In my opinion that tomato pomace contains lyocene is more of a marketing gimmick than it is a reality.
    My guess is that tomato pomace varies widely in what nutrients are there as the by-products found in tomato pomace will vary depending on what finished human food product the tomato processor is making at the time.
    I grant that you are correct about the gluten meal amino acids can be found in other foods. All ingredients bring some mix of nutrients along with it. Gluten meal is basically used because it is a high protein ingredient, but there are other nutrients that come with it and formulators and nutritionist can use those nutrients to balance a diet.
    Which gets me to my point. I have found working with nutritionist they are biased against or for an ingredient. To call corn a “horrible” ingredient as some in your postings have done is an overreaction.
    I am in that category of pet food buyers that wants a food that is nutritionally balanced and will contribute to the good health of my pet. But I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it, but I do like many of the premium products in the market place. Personally, I like to see a meat at the start of the label declaration even though I know that it is being dried down from 65% moisture in the raw state to 5% or so in the finished product. So I am not looking for the cheapest food I can find. I don;t see the need to go to a super premium product for my pets.
    What I don’t like are accusations that certain ingredients are “horrible” when in fact they are not if used in the right combination with other ingredients to make a finished ration.
    This web site i believe is on the right trail in trying to help pet owners find a food for their pets, but when I read commentary about the “goodness” of certain ingredients versus another I would like to see scientific data rather than the opinion.
    BTW Regarding Tyson Foods, I have been through (many times) all of their rendering plants with the exception of one. I know their meals, by-product meals, fat, feather meal that they produce and what they can do to make an ingredient to fit the needs of the buyer. As any good company with left over parts they are looking to add value to that stream of products rather than send it to the rendering plant–so they work closely with pet food manufacturers and they do a good job at it.

  • Michael Barber

    Many quality dog food companies are vacuum sealing the product nowadays so a hot warehouse is not going to make much difference since the product is still at a negative pressure.

  • Michael Barber

    There is nothing wrong with organ meat and two alpha dogs would fight to death over them. I think its about quality of the raw material. I would imagine the raw meat to be of less age/less rotten, and more “pure” when a dog food plant takes it as “raw” compared to a plant making meal. A plant making meal is likely to take anything including road kill or other pets…and just say its chicken or lamb depending on the road kill. Even its origin could be questionable as it might be comingling meal from different areas maybe even different countries. When a plant that is going to put their name on the dog food label takes raw chicken its just likely to be less “rotten” because they have to put their name on the bag and its more likely to be chicken because they can see the difference between a chicken and a rotten skunk. However, once its “meal”, its meal and all you have is the label.

  • James O’Bryan

    I never join these conversations. That said, beelzbubba I am so proud of you. Proud of you for THINKING! I am proud of you for listening to and working with your vet. I am proud of you for being patient and not demanding instant gratification from your dog, your dog food, or your veterinarian. Never think never or always in a biological system.
    But what do I know, I’m just a dumb vet with a background in nutrition that which apparently from the comments we ALL (us vets) magically have a huge learning deficit in our knowledge base.

  • Shawna

    Many of us on this site use and even value by-products in our dogs’ diets. I include kidneys, heart, lung, brain and liver in my dogs’ diet. The difference is that the majority of the diet is quality muscle meat and the by-products make up only about 10% of the diet.

    There are also different qualities of meals just as there are different qualities of by-product meals. Tyson offers several different products and options within each product line.
    “Chicken meal is made from premium parts. Chicken by product meals offer a variety of options to meet the needs of different animal protein requirements. Our low ash chicken by product meal is a good ingredient for species that requires less ash content for their specific health needs. We offer multiple options of target ranges and antioxidants for each of these ingredients.”

    Note — “We offer multiple options of target ranges and antioxidants for each….”

  • Bill Dieterichs

    Michael, you are spot on. Chicken meal and chicken by product meal have similar as-is chemical analysis of about 66% protein, 12% fat, 8% moisture and 14% ash. If desired both CM and CBM can be screened to remove some but not all of the ash content if the final user so desires.
    The raw material going into the rendering plant for chicken meal production can include necks and backs, bone residue from deboning operations and parts that contain bones and skin.

  • Shawna

    “Gluten meal…contains important amino acids”. Which amino acids would be found in corn gluten meal that wouldn’t be found in any animal sourced protein? Have you checked the bioavailability of corn? Not too good…

    Edit — Tomato pomace is a source of lycopene.

  • Shawna

    Hi Bill,

    Dogs have no dietary requirement for carbohydrates be it simple or complex. The AAFCO has no minimum requirement for carbohydrates. A food can be formulated with no added carbs and still be complete and balanced.

  • Bill Dieterichs

    I understand that each mammal species has different nutritional needs. Those needs can come from grains, meat protein and fortified with minerals and vitamins.
    Whole grains are classified as complex carbohydrates. Google complex carbohydrates.

  • Bill Dieterichs

    I don’t have a pet. I have, but don’t now. I did feed a balanced premium dry diet to my dogs and cats in the past and they did quite well and at a much lower cost than some super premium diets (that I think you are advocating) that are no different in nutritional value than the premium product.
    I am curious, what do you suggest people or pets eat if corn, wheat, rice (all grains?) are not good for humans or pets?

  • Bill Dieterichs

    Dogs, cats, pigs and humans are mono-gastric mammals. Their digestive systems are very similar and digest foods in the same manner.

    Complex carbohydrates are made up of several chains of sugars, but also include fiber, vitamins, minerals, and often some protein and fat. Examples are whole grains such as corn or wheat or rice or other grains. Complex carbs do take longer to digest than simple carbs. So pet food companies in order to aid the pet
    digest their foods more easily they extrude with heat and pressure to begin the breakdown of the carbohydrate.

    Simple carbohydrates are sugars such as glucose, sucrose and
    fructose. And generally they do not
    contain any other beneficial nutrients.

    Lest you think I jesting– Google “mono-gastric animals” and
    “complex carbohydrates” to see for yourself.

  • theBCnut

    I don’t know if you have noticed, but dogs are not humans and need diets that are formulated to meet the needs of dogs. They do not need to be eating diets that are loaded with simple carbs, those aren’t even good for humans and we were made to digest carbs. And they definitely don’t care what color their food is.

  • LabsRawesome

    Your post is ridiculous. If you’re going to feed a low grade food, just admit it’s low grade and move on. Don’t try to justify the horrible ingredients. Whole wheat, rice, and Corn are definitely not good for dogs, or Humans.

  • aquariangt

    You are aware that humans have a totally different digestive structure than dogs, right? Also, if it was beef or pork fat, it would say so. Thinking that it’s different is a bit naive. It COULD be beef or pork, and anything else they have, including euthanized animals.

    There are many, many people who have corn intolerances, so again, even though you are comparing humans and dogs which is silly, you are misinformed. I also suggest you research poultry by product

  • Betsy Greer

    The AAFCO definition of chicken by-product meal is, ”
    Chicken By-Product Meal – consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.”

    Chicken by-product meal is less expensive than chicken meal, is reportedly less digestible than chicken meal and various from one batch to the next.

    “Animal fat” is from an unnamed source. You have no way of knowing that it comes from beef or pork.

    Just because the other ingredients are widely consumed by cattle or humans hardly make them appropriate foods for dogs with a carnivorous bias.

  • Bill Dieterichs

    Rice flour is NOT a filler. It is a fine ground rice kernel eaten by more people in the world than any other grain.
    Tomato pomace is a filler, none of that in Beneful, I believe, but often found in “super premium” pet foods.
    Corn is a common grain used in livestock, poultry rations, and corn based cereals such as corn flake. It is a source of corn oil and corn germ. It is RARELY found to be an allergenic. Gluten meal is the yellow color seen in a corn grain. It is 60% protein and contains important amino acids.
    Chicken by meal used in pet foods is the poultry protein left after the fat is extracted from the poultry or chicken offal. The protein found in ‘CBM’ is very much like the protein found in a chicken meal it just comes from a different part of the chicken or turkey. CBM also contains calcium and phosphorus that is essential for dog nutrition.

    Whole wheat flour is the same as is found in whole wheat flour in human food breads.
    Animal fat is from beef or pork, it just isn’t specifically named. The tocopherol are used to keep the fat from becoming rancid and are often produced from natural products.

  • Betsy Greer

    Rice flour, a filler, is listed as the 7th ingredient and follows beef, the 6th ingredient. They’re the first two non-controversial ingredients in the representative formula.

    What about the first 5 ingredients: “Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E),” do you think they have nutritional merit?

  • Bill Dieterichs

    I’ve read the reviews. They are one person’s opinion about ingredients that they seem to have no knowledge about how produced or what they really are. For instance rice flour is nothing more than a rice kernel that is finally ground. It is basically a carbohydrate used to produce sake, rice for baby foods.

  • Betsy Greer

    Eating Beneful was the problem. Have you read the ingredients or the review. It’s a really horrible “food.”

  • Bill Dieterichs

    Was your dog having any problems by eating Beneful, if not why change?

  • kitty

    How can I find out where the meat ingredience in Blue brand dog food come from ? That is supposed to be a very good brand of pet food. I wonder If it is or isn’t made with euthenised animals like some of the other brands ? ( Sorry about the misspellings.

  • funnydude

    Yup bad choice for dogs

  • Elise

    Misser, get your dog allergy tested. Vets are not trained in food, and if they are, they usually don’t have time to keep up to date. Many years ago I rescued two different dogs. Both had such bad allergies that they were dying from it. It is not uncommon for a dog to rate an allergy with meat grain and vegetable. Save yourself from dog food testing hell n just get them tested.

    Also, allergic reactions are cumulative. In other words, they build n it is when the proverbial “straw that breaks the camels back” happens, you get the reactions you have. One of my dogs was literally allergic to everything, but I reduced her intake to two allergens instead of seventeen. Symptoms went away and she lived to seventeen.

  • Shawna

    I would DEFINITELY get a second opinion on that.. It would be VERY VERY VERY VERY unlikely for a dog to be allergic to ALL meat proteins. Besides that — grains, potato, peas, tomatos and other non-meat foods can cause the same skin issues you are seeing in your dog. My dog gets really itchy from barley and other gluten grains.

  • Pattyvaughn

    It is true that allergies and intolerances are a reaction to protein. However, there are proteins in grains and almost every other sort of food item, for that matter. So a dog wouldn’t be allergic to potato starch, but it could be allergic to potato protein. Allergies are very specific to the one single protein, so a dog that is allergic to one protein is not necessarily allergic to a different but related protein.

  • Tracey South

    now you know what some know; that purebreds can often have more health issues than the average mixed breed. But that does not mean you cannot find the solution ! Don’t give up. I did put my 2 cents worth into the discussion before I realized so many others had. I am new-ish to this forum.

  • Tracey South

    never heard about feeding pumpkin during transition period ; neat idea.
    I only recently learned it is good for diarrhea. Which I find mind boggling ; to me , I would have thought it would cause diarrhea ! like I say I learn something every day. Now I can add your input to my list. :)

  • Tracey South

    the vet that explained the allergy to protein thing to me, if you read my other reply….she said it was indeed a “molecule” or something in the specific protein . I don’t know if she said it that way to make it easy for me to understand. Maybe when she said molecule it meant epitope …..(whatever that is) Smile. :)

  • Tracey South

    I am not a vet and cannot say what might be good for your dog. Here is what a vet told me about my dog and skin allergies. She told me it is not really the grains the dogs are usually allergic to if they have food allergy. She said it is the proteins. The protein one dog is sensitive to is not the same as another dogs’ sensitivity or allergic reaction. She said however it is the commonly used proteins (i.e., chicken, etc) maybe in your case, meat (?) but the more the dog is exposed to the protein in question (if dog is becoming sensitive to it) the worse the problem. She said the vets used to recommend a less common protein source, say duck or salmon as opposed to chicken….but that it can be tricky these days since all those other proteins are so often marketed now. My guess would be to maybe do a trial run of a poultry he is not used to , like duck or something . Or, when you said “no meat of any kind” were you talking about poultry, also ? In that case, how about salmon ? Fish oil is great for inflammation anyway. Good luck.

  • mward1993

    Judging from this chicken and rice ingredient list and GA i looks like an all around good food. Especially if you run a kennel and feed a large number of dogs, this is a great choice. It would probably rate 4 stars on this site unless they decided 26% STILL isn’t enough for 4 stars.

  • beelzbubba

    We had continual problems with any commercial foods for our dog. The “meat” allergies are often from the types of meats used in commercial products. They’re ok for most dogs, but present problems for some. I am a vegetarian, but experience tells me that isn’t the best thing for my dog. In my case, consultation with my vet and a lot of trial & error led me to create a blend of boneless skinless chicken breast (75%) spinach (20%) and kale (5%). Now our girl can’t digest fats, which is why the boneless. However a dog with skin issues, weight loss, digestive problems, and a poor prognosis to live past 5 or 6 is going on 12 with excellent skin, weight, energy.

  • Pattyvaughn

    There isn’t a review for it yet, but it is probably on the list to be done. It will probably have a better rating than the regular Southern States, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a great deal better just by looking at the other ingredients that they don’t have a problem with including in dog food.

  • Bart Howard

    I see there is a fairly bad review about Southern States advanced dog food (dry). Is there an opinion or a review about Southern States Naturals? This is Grain, Soy and By-Product free and the Lamb and Rice formula has been most beneficial to all my dogs (We board, and Train clients dogs)

  • jimbo

    When our dog had issues like you reported, we switch to an all raw meat natural diet. The change in her skin and coat conditions was remarkable. Best thing we ever did for her. I can’t buy your vet’s suggestion.

  • Betsy Greer

    Hi Mlisser,

    It happens. : )

    The 4Health you chose sounds like a good choice. In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, whitefish is a cooling fish. Here’s a good food energetics chart from Herbsmith:

    Take your time on the transition from the Beneful to the 4Health. Give him a spoonful of canned pureed [plain] pumpkin with each meal ~ it helps with GI issues that can happen when you switch foods. Even though you’re eager to switch, take the transition slowly, mixing the two together (75% old & 25% new) and gradually increasing the new while decreasing the old only after his stool is solid and formed. It might take two or three weeks to get him there since he’s only eaten the Beneful. He’ll get there though. It might be helpful to give him some probiotics and digestive enzymes as well to help repopulate his gut flora and digest the animal proteins in the new food.

    He may get worse before he gets better!

    That’s disappointing that your vet didn’t even ask what you were feeding and suggest getting him off of the Beneful.

    Here’s a link to find a holistic / integrative medicine vet near you:

    Good luck!

  • Sugar

    My neighbor’s dog also had the same symptoms. The belly was all red. He also had a rash from licking. Any grain free food is now good.

  • Mlisser

    Grain free is what we will try. I had no idea. He is red but it is not a rash it is just his skin color, if that makes sense. You can tell it is coming from the inside out and just on his underbelly. Not impressed with the vet although I was not there so maybe it was more thorough of an exam than it sounds. This is the first purebred dog I have ever owned and he seems much more sensitive in general than the Heinz 57’s I have owned in the past.

  • Mlisser

    We have been feeding him Beneful which I see now from the posts is the worst possible food to feed him. My husband went by the store and bought him 4 health grain free whitefish. We will see how that works. I am not sure of the prescription as my husband gives it to him but I will look once I get home.

  • Betsy Greer

    Hi Mlisser,

    Two questions. What are you feeding your dog currently? What is the prescription medication that the vet prescribed your dog?

  • Sugar

    How can the vet say something like this without backing it up with evidence or a good theory?
    My neigbor’s vet told them the reason for the rash would be fleas. The vet did not even look for fleas and has not found any fleas. The dog did not have fleas! Not even the steroids she gave the dog would help the dog. She did not recommend changing the food and claimed the reason for the rash would not be the food/the grains without saying why. Well she was completely wrong.
    The moment they stopped all medication and gave the dog grain free food the skin condition went away. I could not believe as to how wrong the vet was.
    I would try some good grain free foods and see if it works, otherwise cut out the chicken too.
    I would look for another vet too.

  • Sugar

    Good idea!

  • Dr J

    This sounds rather bizarre to me, considering that dogs a preferentially carnivores and designed to eat meat. I have never heard of a general protein or meat allergy. Usually one has an allergy against a specific epitope and not an entire protein. Additionally, if your dog was allergic to proteins he would also be allergic to proteins found in a vegetarian diet. What do you feed him currently?

  • Mlisser

    No, there were no tests run. It would be nice to know more specifically other than cut out all meat products, chewies, dog bones, protein,everything. He can have green beans which he will eat. He is on his second prescription. The first time the antibiotic did help as a temporary fix. We have spent more than $300 so far and it is just the beginning I suspect. We will give the surf n turf a shot as well as look for the Horizon. Thanks so much.

  • InkedMarie

    The first thing I recommend is a second opinion, preferably with a holistic vet.

  • Sugar

    I haven’t never heard of a vet making this recommendation. Did he do any tests?
    Often skin conditions are caused by grains, or certain types of meat proteins, such as chicken.
    They can also be environmental as well.
    My neighbor also had a dog with a similar skin condition and the vet said things which were not true. They spent $ 200 and the condition got worse. I gave them a bag of Fromm surf n’turf and the skin condition went away very quickly.
    Halo has a vegetarian food line.
    Have you tried fish and grain free dry food? For instance Horizon Pulsar or Legacy? I believe they are of good quality and a bit lower priced.

  • Mlisser

    My Vet recommended my English Springer Spaniel no longer eat meat of any kind. He has a skin condition where he has chewed and scratched himself raw apparently caused by protein and meat products? Can anyone recommend a food that I can afford? All of the vegetarian foods are way out of my price range.

  • SophiasMommy

    Decided to go with Castor & Pollux Grain Free Duck for my 12 wk old pit, after feeding her Science Diet (vet recommendation) and Simply Nourish Puppy (bought when we got her). Hope she likes it! :)

  • Frances Andrews

    Both my dog and I got salmonella from Purina One Chicken and Barley dog food, which has been recalled. Beware!

  • Pattyvaughn

    Those are meal moth larva and you don’t want them to get loose in your house!! They are a pain to get rid of and are usually from a bag being stored too long and/or not properly rotated on the shelf.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I believe that no dog food is prefect, they all are high or low in some nutrient. So I feed a variety of foods. For kibble, I feed Brothers Complete, Nature’s Variety Instinct, Earthborn Holistic, and soon I’ll try Nautre’s Logic. I believe a fresh high meat diet is best, but I have too many squeamish people living in my house to make that my dogs total diet, but half of their food is fresh or frozen raw food.

  • somebodysme

    She just said that Diamond makes the DRY food by Solid Gold.

  • kassicast

    What do u feed your dog I am stressing trying to find good dog food for my dog which is a cocker spaniel 2 year old found out that I have been feeding her bad food I feel terrible now I am trying to find her the bestt dog food I can but its hard why is there so much recalls on dog food


    I bought the Simply Nourish for w/chicken Seniors yesterday and also about two months ago the same thing happened, when I opened the bag I noticed before if you get a really tight sealed bag everything is ok. But these two bags had WHITE WORMS CRAWLING ING THE FOOD AND IT LOOKED LIKE SOME KINDA WEBS TOO i WILL BE TAKING THIS BAG BACK TODAY.

  • Pattyvaughn

    This site favors feeding raw. Period. But if the meat is in a kibble, it isn’t fresh raw protein. Ever. Kibble can never be raw, it is a bakery product. And most kibbles are stored in hot warehouses for months before they make it to store shelves. Not fresh, not raw.

  • Michael Barber

    Yeh this site is useful but it is by no means absolute. They seem to prefer “meal” over “raw protein”. For example, they rate Chicken soup “LOWER” than “Taste of the Wild” when it lists the FIRST TWO raw proteins…citing “moisture”. Despite the claims of this website, saying that no bone makes its way into chicken meal is absurd. I guarantee a large amount of meal is comprised of bone especially in something like Chicken which would take too much work to completely break down the bone and cooking would still release soft bone and small bones. Just like in the case of fish meal. Bone can be useful for some nutrition but I would take fresh raw protein over all an all protein meal dog food all day long and I’m sure my dog would as well.

  • losul

    Thnx, Shawna.

  • Shawna

    Well said losul.

  • Pattyvaughn

    You apparently have missed the whole point. Nobody can possibly try all 3000+ dog foods, so people need a way to narrow their search. This is a place to start, not a place to finish, just like seeing a trailer is a place to start to figure out if you want to try a movie. At least Dr Mike realizes the shortcomings of a dog food review and writes about it, unlike movie reviewers, who apparently think everyone wants to see what they do.

  • losul

    Comparing a dog food review to a movie review is a poor comparison, nevertheless, without even watching a movie, most of us can judge whether a movie is highly likely to be poor quality if the leading role actors/actresses are known to be third rate (even if it has a tiny guest appearance by a better performer) it’s very low budget, and the producer is known to be a low-life.

  • L. Molgat

    With all of the shortcomings listed above I’m surprised that anyone would even speculate on how good a food might be. In most cases Pet Food Review websites are constructed by people who have had no formal education or experience in the field, have had some kind of issue with a pet & pet food and who have never even seen or let alone tried the food they are rating. For me that is like someone who is not in the Movie Industry, has no Journalistic background, seeing a glimpse of a trailer for a film then writing a review on the movie.

    L. Molgat

  • Susan Israel

    If the vets think likewise, the animal hospital is not so wonderful. Find a holistic one.

  • Guest

    @ Storm’s Mom, I only use the DRY food of Solid Gold, and then I buy Merrick’s Wet food as a LIGHT mixer. Who makes their Dry food? I’ve tried investigating it and havn’t found an answer.

  • Angie Hendrickson

    Right, I’ve heard that from quite a few people. But I guess recalls happen and it doesn’t always necessarily mean you’re a terrible company when it does happen. I heard about 2012’s recall of Wolf Cub (exactly what I’m buying), but honestly.. the list of ingredients are so impressive to me, and our puppy does so incredible on it, that I can only assume that they fixed what happened. I also can only assume that accidents happen out of your control as a company. If you order mass quantities of certain ingredients from various companies to MAKE your dog food, you can’t always know for fact that what comes to you is 100% safe until you start getting complaints. Then at that point it’s too late, and boom, better start ordering that particular ingredient from some one else. As this article states, ALL dog food companies order from multiple companies to get their ingredients. They can’t always be perfect. For now I’m going to trust Solid Gold because of the results I am seeing.

  • somebodysme

    OH well, they don’t know much at the front desk…get this, the lady at MY vet’s office didn’t know what DEMODEX was…GAH!