An Insider’s Guide to Finding Superior Dog Food Brands


Dog Food Shopper
These days, there are lots of dog foods on the market. So, finding a good one can be overwhelming.

After all, on The Dog Food Advisor website alone, there are now:

  • Over 950 dog food reviews
  • Hundreds of product lines
  • More than 4,100 recipes

So, how can you find a good brand? Here are 9 tips to help you find a superior food for your dog.

Tip #1
Check the Label

Pet food labels are loaded with lots of valuable information. Yet they can also be difficult to read. So, save yourself a lot of time and effort and…

Favor dog food brands that include multiple product lines with higher ratings.

That’s because lower rated recipes are more likely to contain:

  • Less meat
  • More by-products
  • Controversial preservatives
  • Anonymous meat ingredients

Tip #2:
Consider the Company

Many dog owners tend to distrust larger pet food companies. They mistakenly believe smaller brands are more likely to make better and safer products.

However, the facts tell a different story.

Consider this: 93% of all pet foods sold in the U.S. are produced by just 3 companies — Big Heart, Mars and Purina.1

Yet 73 of the 88 recall events documented on this website during a recent 5-year period2 are linked to products of smaller brands.3

In other words…

Even though smaller companies account for just 7% of the pet food and treats sold — they’re responsible for an eye-popping 83% of the recalls.

In addition, after conducting hundreds of interviews, it’s become apparent that…

A significant number of dog foods are not likely to meet the claims of nutritional adequacy printed on their labels.

That’s because many smaller companies have willingly admitted to us that they make no effort to verify the nutrient content or the safety of the foods they sell.

And there’s no law requiring any pet food company to do so, either.

The truth is, the smaller the brand, the less likely the company has the financial ability to perform all the steps needed to ensure the quality of its products.

So, although there are always exceptions, it’s important to keep in mind that larger companies are far more likely to:

  • Employ real food scientists, animal nutritionists and other veterinary professionals to design their products
  • Test raw materials for impurities and nutrient content
  • Conduct regular safety and quality control procedures
  • Own and operate their own manufacturing facilities
  • Verify finished goods before they are shipped
  • Maintain in-house testing laboratories

So, what should you do? Are dog foods made by larger companies better?

No, larger companies may or may not be better. However…

The smaller the dog food brand, the more critical it is for you to look beyond its label.

Tip #3
Identify the Manufacturer

Most dog owners assume their pet food company actually makes the products they sell.

However, today, many companies use third-party co-packers to manufacture some — or all — of their foods.

Yet others make their own.

In any case, whether or not a company makes its own dog food is neither good or bad. What’s more important is to…

Know the identity of the manufacturer of any brand you feed your pet.

Otherwise you’ll never be able to track its recall history or judge the safety of its products.

Tip #4
Question Product Design

What may surprise you is that there’s no legal requirement that a pet food be formulated by an animal nutritionist or any other veterinary professional.

In fact, over the years, we’ve uncovered a shocking number of dog foods that have been designed by amateurs.

So, to ensure the nutritional health of your pet, you should…

Contact each brand you’re considering and determine who actually designs its products.

By the way, just knowing who formulates a product is not enough. You’ll also want to know what qualifies that person to do so.

Tip #5
Confirm Nutrient Testing

It’s also important to know how the company can be certain each formulation is nutritionally complete and balanced.

And how often nutritional content testing is actually performed.

Does the company conduct laboratory analysis? Or do they run feeding trials?

Surprisingly, we have found many (mostly smaller) companies that never do any testing at all. That’s why it’s so important to…

Find out what a company does to test each product to be sure it actually meets AAFCO nutritional guidelines.

Tip #6
Investigate Ingredient Sources

No dog food can ever be magically better than the ingredients that were used to make it. Yet labels reveal little about the quality of the raw materials actually used to make the food.

Some ingredients are purchased from commodity brokers on the open market — from the cheapest bidder. Others can come from countries known to have inferior food quality standards.

However, superior companies tend to source their ingredients only from established local or regional suppliers they do business with on a recurring basis.

What’s more, Federal law does not currently require any pet food company to disclose country of origin — or any other sourcing information — on its label.

That’s why it’s so important to…

Know the source of all ingredients that are used to make any dog food you buy. Avoid brands that will not share this information with you.

By the way, imported ingredients aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, many can be of exceptional quality. For example, some vitamin and mineral supplements are pharmaceutical grade and can actually be superior to those sourced from the U.S. or Canada.

Tip #7
Demand Transparency

Some pet food companies work hard to conceal critical information about their products.

For example, we’ve actually stumbled upon a number of companies that attempt to create an artificial sense of customer support by using voice mail to take messages. Yet no one ever returns the calls.

Some brands don’t even maintain a product website.

And others resist being questioned by independent websites like The Dog Food Advisor.

These companies make it difficult (or impossible) for us to get important answers — while blaming their own unwillingness to cooperate on the fact we are not veterinarians.

Think about it. Are there any questions presented in this article that would require the knowledge of a veterinarian to answer?

Obviously, hostile or defensive companies like these are the ones that most likely have something to hide — and should not be trusted.

For all these reasons…

Never buy any dog food made by any company that is not transparent about its products or its manufacturing practices.

After all, you have a right to know.

Tip #8
Verify Quality Control

At the time of purchase, all pet foods are at risk for containing:

  • Disease-causing pathogens (Salmonella, Listeria)
  • Mold toxins (aflatoxin, vomitoxin)
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Unsafe nutrient levels

And although many pathogens can be killed (pasteurized) during cooking, deadly toxins can remain in the food throughout the manufacturing process.

What’s worse, re-contamination can occur anytime living germs from uncooked food accidentally come in contact with a finished food product.

That’s why you must…

Never buy a pet food from any company that ships finished goods before obtaining negative test results for any form of contamination.

Some companies are more diligent about this safety measure than others. A few test every batch while others test only randomly. And yet some never test anything at all.

In any case, even for us, it can be extremely difficult to determine just how carefully any brand administers its own quality control program.

Tip #9
Study the Recall History

Dog food recalls can provide some valuable clues about a brand’s manufacturing habits.

Pet owners tend to misunderstand and overreact to dog food recalls. And they’re inclined to overvalue the real significance of these events whenever they occur.

They forget that when it comes to any process involving human beings, errors are inevitable. Accidents are going to happen.

And that’s what makes dog food recalls so unpredictable. In fact, trying to forecast any pet (or human) food recall has proved to be impossible.

Just the same, even though no pet food company can completely prevent a recall, it can control how it responds to such an event when it does occur.

Unfortunately, while some companies work hard to prevent a recall, others work even harder at covering them up.

For example, some misguided brands have been known to conduct silent recalls — informing only their distributors about an event. And not the public.

Or they withhold the news about a recall and only release that information at the very end of the business week — just so they won’t have to deal with consumer questions.

Avoid buying dog food made by any brand that makes any attempt to hide recall events from the public when they occur.

Remember, most recalls typically involve only a limited number of product runs and batches. Just because a particular recipe has been recalled doesn’t mean the entire brand is defective.

So, please don’t make the same mistake made by so many other well-meaning pet owners. Don’t overreact and exclude a quality food just because of a few isolated events.

In the end, your dog could be missing out on some of the very best canine diets out there.

The Bottom Line

Of course, no system can possibly guarantee your dog’s food will never be recalled — or that your pet will approve of your choice.

However, any time you find a product that meets the majority of these guidelines, you can feel confident you’re likely to have found a superior dog food brand.


  1. Drew Harwell, “The McDonaldization of American Pet Food”, The Washington Post, February 5, 2015
  2. October 2009 through February 2015
  3. All brands except Big Heart, Mars and Purina
  • sandy

    Dry food can have a shelf life from 12 to 18 months so be sure to find out which length of time the dog food company you choose is using. Even if a bag of food is still in date doesn’t mean it’s fresh.

  • LabLover

    Like the new direction the site as been doing.

  • Carole Wrinkle Kelly

    Good article Mike, thank you.

  • Belben7

    I find that most wet canned food, with few exceptions contain liver as an ingredient. Since liver is the detox organ of the body I don’t like to give any food to my animals (2 dogs, 2 cats) that contains it. The ones that don’t have it as an ingredient, are rated low. I think I’ll start cooking and freezing for them and maybe even do a BARF diet. Won’t have to be concerned with recalls either.

  • Fagel O’Neal El

    just ended call with food company…it appears that the food is expired as recently as May 28, 2017. Although they cannot confirm this is the only issue, since i purchased this product just last week. So, its an eye opener…..check the dates on the bagged pet food as well.

  • Fagel O’Neal El

    Hello! I purchased a bag of pedigree small dog pet food my dogs have been sick and have had a bad case of diarrhea, purchased last week this brand has not usually made them sick. i am contacting company today. If you are noticing this problem with your pets just be aware. thanks

  • ArleenGisele Futch

    I agree, and once you find a safe dog food, You should switch it up, so your pet is less likely to develop an allergy. Did you find something you like? I use Taste of the Wild, but add cooked meats/pumpkin/peas
    etc to give him some variety.

  • ArleenGisele Futch

    Diva, Just a different point of view for you to consider. I know you realize everything costs money in our society- Dog food advisor has indeed spent his time & resources to research this issue for those of us who can’t/don’t want to. Would you work for free? The site gives plenty of free info, which I super appreciate. I hope you won’t begrudge a person reasonable compensation for his time consuming work.

  • Yolanda Lininger

    Unfortunately now that this product line has been bought by Texas Mills, the formula will change and not for the positive. It will now contain Flaxseed and Pea, with Peas being one of the first few ingredients. How sad!

  • Steph Wong

    I personally like to use “human food” and mix it with a little bit of dry dog food for my dogs. I tried using wet food and dry food alone but my dogs will never finish their dinner. I find that a little Purina with some boiled chicken and some veggies gives them the most filling and healthy results.

  • LunaLove

    i many years ago also fed my pup purina. she was only on it for a couple of months until she started getting sick i then did my research and changed food. she was still very ill for over a year and no vet could find out what was wrong with her after mulitple tests and different vets. then one day she seemed ok and from there hasnt had many issues. im wondering if maybe it was poisoning that was in her body for some time. i just recently learned im allergic to propylene glycol that wasnt fun.

  • sharron

    i had 3 at one time years ago – talk about a dog blowing his coat – great dogs

  • Pitlove

    Hi Marlene-

    Pro Plan might not have a good “star rating” on this website, but that does not mean it is a poor quality food. Not to mention Pro Plan is only viewed poorly in some circles. My dogs eat Pro Plan as well and have done far better on that brand than any of the higher rated foods on here. At a certain point I’ve just learned to go with what works. I was using the Sensitive Skin & Stomach formula, but recently switched to the Sport 26/16 and my dogs are doing even better on the Sport formula.

    Glad you found a food that works well for your dogs!

  • InkedMarie

    I have a friend who was into elkies; love them!

  • Marlene Schllichtig

    My vet has always believe that you don’t use a dog food that hasn’t been available for at least 7 years. That way you get the results to the grow plan, to the body, in general, and to the new generational process. This makes a lot of sense to me.

  • Marlene Schllichtig

    I have a serious debate going on with myself…choosing the right dog food! My dogs (2-4 Norwegian Elkhounds) have been in competition (conformation, agility, obedience, barn hunt, tracking, rally) since 1979. They enjoy it and so do I. So, coat quality, weight control, energy, muscle/tendon health, and good stools are very important to me.
    I have also fed quality foods ever since they came out…which includes those available today. With some brands, I quickly noticed that the coats were going pieces, and energy levels went down. Others, the dogs just didn’t like. My one big eater has loose stools on grain-free foods. She always had right from the day she was weaned!
    That is until I put her on Purina ProPlan Sport (Performance). Good stools, good everything! My younger dog is also doing great on the same food.
    My question is WHY are they doing so well…on a food that is regarded so low?
    Thanks for your time.

  • jwb7605

    I think it might be slightly important to select a brand your dog actually likes, too. Mine (see Avatar) likes Nature’s Variety Instinct, but she doesn’t really care for Taste Of the Wild. Both brands are 4 or 5 star rated.
    I’ve personally never sampled either one πŸ™‚

  • LadyDiana214

    I was just scrolling through the posts trying to catch up on missed info, when I saw your post.

    I know it’s been a year since you posted your response but I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for you that you lost your dog due to this melamine disaster. I know what it is like to lose a beloved pet due to the malicious acts of another. πŸ™

    I do hope that you are doing ok.

  • Diana

    why not add some water or broth to the dry food? That is what I started doing for my Husky when he decided he preferred his food a bit wet. It is less expensive AND I find the dry food to be healthier πŸ™‚

  • Crazy4cats

    I personally think it’s a small price to pay to help compensate those involved for their dedication to keeping this site up to date and extremely informative.

  • Kathy Green

    It’s too bad Editor’s Choice has to be paid for.

  • You’re right, Kathy. This does involve a lot of tedious work. We’ve been doing it for more than 8 years.

    Please keep in mind that our ratings are based on the government regulated label only. Nothing else.

    There are currently 337 product reviews here that are rated 4 stars or higher. And the label is a great place to start. After all, how can any food product be better than the ingredients that were used to make it.

    That’s why we created Editor’s Choice. We do every bit of this work on a regular basis for the 21 brands we currently recommend and monitor.

  • Kathy Green

    Well by the time I do all this research I’ve earned a PhD. If the ridiculous number of brands out there and all of each’s multiple formulas, who has time to track all this down? Seriously, considering how dog food mfr’s can change the formula and not disclose it, people would be spending hours and days figuring all these issues out! Not a practical approach. Even Dog Food Adviser doesn’t do this.

  • Hi Bojangles,

    The comments section is served by Disqus and is not under our control.

    So, unfortunately, it would not be possible for us to add a fast scrolling feature to this part of DFA.

  • janice gross

    Hi Shawna, I did get the sportsmix lamb and rice, and it does have omega 3,6 in it, so I’m going to mix some vegetables and some nutritional things with it, so I hope that it works, he normally eats the freshpet rolled refrigerated food, but its not grain free, so I think that your right, I think the food may be the issue. Thank you so much for your help, I’m new at this sort of thing, so I appreciate all of the help from everyone on this Disqus. Have a good evening!

  • bojangles

    Hi Mike,

    Would it be possible for you to add one of those return to the top of the page thingees to dfa? I think it would be helpful to some of us scroll challenged folks.

  • bojangles

    Hi Shawna,

    I agree that there are many other factors that affect hair growth e.g. age, health, diet, environment, genes, stress, etc.

    I think that Cloee? in the beginning was showing the effects of stress and maybe a not so healthy diet when you first adopted her and after her situation improved she stopped excessively shedding her hair.

    Good job Shawna!

  • Shawna

    Yes, I do agree that hair (fur) has a life cycle and at some point the old makes way for the new growth. It is very interesting to see more about how it all happens – thanks for the phase info.

    By your explanation it makes sense that short haired dogs’ coats shed, allowing for new growth, quicker than long haired but I do think it goes beyond that. Cloee was a short haired Chihuahua and although she shed, even in the end at 19 years of age, it was nothing like when she first came. Not only was her coat softer and shinier after the diet change but also plusher. Maybe this isn’t the case with all short coated dogs but I foster Boston Terriers and notice it even with them (as well as my current foster Lola the short haired weiner dog). I will say however, the last time I took Lola to the vet you’d think she lost half her coat by what was left on my seat… Stress, in my opinion, is a major trigger too.

  • theBCnut

    If you haven’t had bloodwork, it’s time to check thyroid levels.

  • bojangles

    Hi Shawna,

    All dogs shed.

    Like ours, a dog’s hair grows in 3 phases, Anagen (growth), Catagen (transition), Telogen (resting).

    When the hair enters the Telogen phase it falls out and a new hair begins to grow. Some say that there are 4 phases, but the overall concept is the same.

    I believe the difference in how healthy dogs shed their hair is related to the time spent in each phase.

    Poodle: each hair probably spends years in the Anagen phase, so each hair only sheds every couple of years leading to the perception that poodles don’t shed. This would be an Anagen dominant pattern of hair growth.

    Short haired dogs: They spend much less time, maybe only a couple of months in the Anagen phase, so each hair falls out or sheds much more often than the poodle. This would be a Telogen dominant pattern of hair growth.

    I don’t know if dogs with undercoats can have a different cycle for the guard hairs and the undercoat, or if both types of hair are on the same cycle, one in which the Telogen phase comes in the spring.

  • Shawna

    Here’s another source VCA Pet Hospitals
    “Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) help protect the skin and coat and keep it shiny. At a cellular level, EPA helps block arachidonic acid and combats inflammation. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish and algal oils and flaxseed.
    Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in corn, soy, flaxseed, and other nuts, is a key nutrient in maintaining a healthy coat. Many pets with dry, flaky skin are often deficient in linoleic acid. Dandruff, thin hair, discolored hair, increased shedding, and poor healing are all associated with low linoleic acid levels in the skin and diet.”

    Edit to include — the skin of chickens and to a smaller degree dark meat chicken are also good sources of LA.

  • Shawna

    I would agree that some breeds shed more than others. My Poms don’t shed at all but a couple times a year they “blow their coat”. My Shih Tzu and Papillons don’t really shed much either but my Terrier mix does shed more – as compared to the others. So yes, some shedding is absolutely normal.

    My experiences with foster and adopted dogs has been that yes, diet absolutely can make a difference. Does it completely stop shedding – no. My Chi, Cloee, came to me eating a Science Diet food. Her coat was brittle and she had a significant amount of hair loss. Once on raw that all changed. I’m certain being in a lower stress environment etc then the shelter helped also.

    Although not research this site discusses what I was saying to Janice a bit…
    “Your dog’s hair could be falling out because of an allergic reaction to any of the following:
    Food: An allergy to a single ingredient in a kibble or canned food can cause hair loss”

    The absence of a well balanced diet could certainly result in unwanted hair loss. Blood tests can help a veterinarian determine if there’s a mineral deficiency or overdose.”
    Edit to include the link

    My experience with the above comment is that quality of diet matters.

    I would also suggest that omega 3 (which is ALA, DHA and EPA) is beneficial for the skin/coat but not as much as LA (which is omega 6). Coconut oil has a tiny amount of LA in it but probably not enough to be therapeutic. Here’s some more on omega 6 and the coat — There is more sciency info on LA and skin/coat quality if interested.

  • InkedMarie

    Hi Janice,
    No, they don’t make a canned food. Dr Tim’s dry is a very good food, IMO. Other dry food I like is Annamaet, Fromm, Victor (haven’t fed thus yet).
    Above, on the left side under the search, click the best wet food reviews for some good canned options. I’ve used Hound & Gatos, Wellness Simple, Daves….I use more dehydrated than canned.

  • Cannoli

    my understanding is that shedding is not preventable. some breeds shed more than others. bulldogs shed alot. my pup gets plenty of oily fish along with extra virgin coconut oil. he has shed since the day i got him.

    brushing his hair is the only thing that at times helps with his shedding

  • Shawna

    Hi Janice,

    With shedding it could be he may not be getting an adequate amount of oils for his needs. You can do this by switching the diet or by adding a supplemental source of oils such as one that is balanced in omega 6 and 3. I’m not sure what the ratio of the current diet is so can’t say which ones I personally would add if my own dog.

    It could also be a sensitivity to a specific ingredient in the Freshpet food. It’s usually advised to find another food that has a different protein and a different carb source. So if the current diet is chicken and barley, as an example, then look for one that is maybe beef and rice or lamb and sweet potato or venison and potato as examples. If you don’t see improvement when switching up the “main” ingredients then start looking at the rest of the ingredient list. I know of dogs that react to flax seeds, tomato, alfalfa etc. It’s easiest to keep a journal of foods you’ve tried (and their ingredient list as that can change). This can often help identify what might be causing the symptom — each food used, as an example, had flax seeds in it.

    As far as “best food”, I don’t think there really is any one best food or even best brand. I currently have seven small and toy breed dogs and have had two Chihuahua’s (my last passed of old age at 19 years old). I fed/feed a variety of foods including raw, dehydrated, freeze dried and canned. I change their meal almost every other to every third day. If you want to stick with canned though, I personally like Weruva, Merrick, Zignature, Cocoliciuos (made by Party Animal), PetKind canned tripe, Nature’s Variety Instinct and many others. Whole Earth Farms is not one I use but the ingredients and nutrient analysis are in line with foods I like and use.

    Hope something here is helpful to you!!

  • janice gross

    Shawna. I have a chihuahua that is 2 1/2 years old, and he was on the freshpet rolled refrigerated food, and it is not grain free. He has had a lot of shedding, and I think its the food, and the vet said the same thing.
    So, what would you recommend, He doesn’t eat hard food, just canned food.
    I bought a couple cans of Whole Earth Foods, and only fed him one can yesterday. But, I’m still worried about what food is best for him. Please help. Thank you!

  • janice gross

    Hi, does Dr.Tims sell canned food? My chihuahua won’t eat hardfood. He is 2 1/2 years old. And is Dr.Tims a good food? Would you say that the guidelines posted above would be apply to Dr.Tims line of food? There are so many petfoods, that you aren’t sure of what to buy unless you follow the guidelines above. Thank you for your help.

  • aimee

    In high doses yes it is toxic just as it is in people ( the safety margin is larger in people) but there are published safe doses that can be used in dogs.

  • tlc

    actually, according to my vet, acetaminophen is also toxic to dogs.

  • aimee

    I’m not seeing the relevance to my comment.

    I agree propylene glycol shouldn’t be fed to a cat.

    Cats, dogs and people are all different. Cats have 8 sulfhydryl groups on their hemoglobin, dogs 4 and people 2. This is why cats are reactive to very small doses of a compound that is safe in much higher doses in dogs and people.

    In cats tylenol is very toxic both due to oxidation of red blood cells and because they lack hepatic enzymes present in people and dogs. Acetaminophen shouldn’t ever be used in cats but that doesn’t mean it should be banned from use in dogs and people.

  • Diana

    GOOGLE : purina dog food lawsuit

    there is a reason the FDA has banned Propylene Glycol from cat food. NOW…we need to get them to ban it from dog foods as well,

  • Diana

    I don’t know where you got the info that ethylene glycol is ‘MODERATELY toxic’ to humans (REALLY????) and is ‘fatally toxic’ to many animals’ or WHY you hope this ERRONEOUS information ‘clarifies’ things for me (b/c I ALWAYS do quite a bit of reading and research BEFORE I post on ANY subject), but just to add some clarification on the subject for you.

    Ethylene glycol is POISONOUS if swallowed.
    An overdose of ethylene glycol can damage the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, and lungs. The poisoning causes disturbances in the body’s chemistry, including metabolic acidosis. The disturbances may be severe enough to cause profound shock, organ failure, AND DEATH.
    **********As little as 120 milliliters (approximately 4 fluid OUNCES) of ethylene glycol may be enough to kill an average-sized man.***************
    (have you NEVER heard of people being found GUILTY of MURDER by POISONING WITH ETHYLENE GLYCOL??!?!)
    (not sure where you got your info from that it is ‘moderately toxic’, but if you have a link for me to read it online, let me know)


    it’s toxicity level is relative to the amount in question. Another poster used exampes of ‘everyday’ products that I ‘probably’ use everyday, such as cigarettes,e-cigs and caffeinated drinks …the first 2 of which i NEVER use and the last not everyday….BECAUSE THEY AREN’T HEALTHY FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION!!!! (as if cigarettes are great example of a product free of toxicity…when it is LOADED WITH THOUSANDS OF CHEMICALS) So, I disagree that it has a ‘low toxicity’ level in these dog foods and, I’m sure, so do the THOUSANDS of families whose beloved pets have been POISONED by these particular bags of food containing PROPYLENE GLYCOL. AS WELL…SCIENCE DOESN’T LIE (NEITHER DO MEDICAL TESTS)…and it isn’t merely coincidence that after feeding my dog this toxic food (and him getting sick with vomiting,diarrhea and bloody stools), did his urine output tests show ‘kidney damage/’possible early kidney disease’), YET..after a year of having him on HEALTHY dog food, a raw food diet (and Natural Health supplements that helped restore his digestive system and kidney functions to optimal levels)….his urine output now shows within the normal range and he is NO LONGER showing ANY Signs of ANY kidney disease!!!

    I have NO doubt that had I kept feeding my dog the Purina Beneful dog food (which DOES contain the propylene glycol) and not ‘intuitively’ known something wasn’t right with it, Kita may very well have been left with permanent kidney damage (at the least) or could have very well become another ‘victim who passed away’ in the never ending list of innocent pets who are being POISONED WITH PROPYLENE GLYCOL (and from the sounds of it MYOTOXINS as well)




  • aimee


    What a great update to this very well written article. So glad you posted to Facebook or I may have missed it. So thankful for all you do Dr Mike.

  • Diana


  • Khal Drogo

    If you will look up both substances either on Wikipedia or in a nursing handbook you will find the following: when comparing propylene glycol, in general, glycols are non-corrosive, have very low volatility and very low toxicity, however, the closely related ethylene glycol (a key ingredient in antifreeze) is moderately toxic to humans and fatally toxic to many animals. Neither substance should be found in food of any sort human nor animal. Hope this clarifies. Hope ya’ll find the food you are looking for as I hope I do also. πŸ™‚

  • InkedMarie

    look at Victor and Dr Tim’s foods. I have never fed Victor but I love Dr Tim’s. Some of his come in 40 & 44/45 pound bag, unusual for good foods. You may need to order online: lookn at Chewy dot com

  • Orenokoto

    Dagnabbedit, I just want to know a decent, safe, won’t break my bank, food for my dog! Been using Blue Buffalo for a few years, but now, I’m not so sure about it. Our chocolate lab/boxer is 10 years old and very healthy, and I want to keep her healthy.

    Only 3 companies make all food?!? Except the small ones that have a bad record?! Oh me. Somebody tell us what is the best dog food. Not all this, “it depends” mess. There has to be a healthy food!

  • Crazy4dogs

    I do stand corrected. The interesting thing is that the cheapest food on the market (Dog Chow) is their money maker. πŸ™

  • Philo Vance

    I wrote: “Purina Petcare is the largest manufacturer of pet foods in the United States.” This is in fact correct. Mars is the largest manufacturer worldwide.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi Philo

    You stated: “Purina Petcare is the largest manufacturer of pet foods in the United States.”

    “As the late US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.””

    While you are mostly correct on your facts, Mars Petcare is in FACT the largest pet food manufacturer of pet foods.

  • el doctor

    Hi Philo

    You said;
    “As long as consumers value ingredients over nutrition and rely on web sites with no in depth knowledge of either for guidance, great companies like Purina will continue to get an unfair bad rap.”

    I value proper nutrition supplied through the consumption of fresh, humanely raised meats, poultry and fish that have passed inspection by the USDA and are certified as fit for human consumption.

    Not through the consumption of ultra-processed ingredients that are basically what for one reason or another failed to make it into the human food chain.

    Proper nutrition should be supplied by whole foods and not by chemicals synthesized in a lab that are added to dog foods to make them nutritionally complete.

    As far as opinions go, here are some that paint a pretty dismal picture of the dog foods made by the company you called “great”

    1106 Reviews

    1656 Reviews

    114 Reviews

  • Pitlove

    you missed the point of what I said completely, but alright.

  • Philo Vance

    >Purina’s main product is not dog and cat food. They are huge suppliers
    of feed and seed stores across the country and oddly enough some of
    their animal feeds are some of the best on the market. Their dog and cat
    food being some of the worst.<

    This is *completely* wrong information. Since 2001 the Purina pet food products have been manufactured by Purina Petcare, a division of Nestle, a Swiss company that is the largest manufacturer of food products in the world. Purina Petcare is the largest manufacturer of pet foods in the United States.

    Purina Mills, the manufacturer of feed for livestock, was spun off from the Ralston Purina company in 1986, long before the merger with Nestle. They are currently owned by the Land O' Lakes company. I have no idea how good their animal feeds are but they market a dog food under the PMI Exclusive brand that is highly regarding by owners and breeders of working and sporting dogs. It is available primarily through the feed stores that carry their other products.

    Not only is this information generally known among those knowledgeable about the pet food industry but it is easily verified by Wikipedia. Both companies retained the right to use the famous Purina checkerboard logo, which goes back to the early 1900s when the Ralston Purina company made cereals for human consumption.

    As the late US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

  • mahoraner niall

    that woman in the picture is in the wrong area of the store,

    “thats the trash isle, the dog food is in isle 8 ma’m”

  • Diana

    Just because a chemical is in products (I don’t smoke or drink caffeinated products,BTW),doesn’t make it OK for it to be so..OR for us (let alone our beloved pets) to ingest. Also…why is it that I don’t find this ingredient in any other dog food (none of which are part of a major legal claim) and the dog foods that it is in…not only made my dog sick,but many others? (as well? as behind the death of many others) As for my info not based on facts…I disagree since I took the time to read up on and learn about it.

  • Beverly Perry

    Having worked in management in Pre and Post Market Safety for a major medical company, I know very well that recalls most often are initiated by the company. My assumption is that the same is true in food manufacturing. I worked for a highly ethical company with a high amount of recalls and safety reports to the FDA…the reason? We were viigilent with reporting and pulling anything that couldn even remotely cause a hazard or a perceived hazard to the public. We were often frustrated with other companies who appeared to have safer products (if based on counting safety reports to the FDA) yet we knew about serious issues that were never reported. It would be fairly easy to hide dog food problems. What we allow to happen to domestic pets in the US should be a crime. We simply can’t base product safety on the number of recalls, even more so with pet food. Ol’Roy/Ranch Hound is a good example. How many issues included pictures of foul food have been posted by consumers? yet how many recalls?

    I’m not suggesting we should disregard recalls. What I am suggesting is that some of the repeated voluntary recalls are because someone is keeping an eye on safety rather than waiting until animals die, or covering it up.

  • Beverly Perry

    Having worked in management in Pre and Post Market Safety for a major medical company, I know very well that recalls most often are initiated by the company. My assumption is that the same is true in food manufacturing. I worked for a highly ethical company with a high amount of recalls and safety reports to the FDA…the reason? We were viigilent with reporting and pulling anything that couldn even remotely cause a hazard or a perceived hazard to the public. We were often frustrated with other companies who appeared to have safer products (if based on counting safety reports to the FDA) yet we knew about serious issues that were never reported. It would be fairly easy to hide dog food problems. What we allow to happen to domestic pets in the US should be a crime. We simply can’t base product safety on the number of recalls, even more so with pet food. Ol’Roy/Ranch Hound is a good example. How many issues have been reported? How many recalls? I’m not suggesting to disregard recalls. What I am suggesting is that some of this repeated voluntary recalls are because someone is keeping an eye on safety rather than waiting until animals die, or covering it up.

  • Pitlove

    Big Daddy- You are right about certain things and wrong about others. Purina’s main product is not dog and cat food. They are huge suppliers of feed and seed stores across the country and oddly enough some of their animal feeds are some of the best on the market. Their dog and cat food being some of the worst. You might have noticed Purina’s logo is the exact same logo used to identify a feed store. They remain in business because of this. Their dog and cat food also does remain on the shelves because it meets the very low and laughable standards of the FDA and AAFCO. It does not exceed them in any way shape or form. There are legal levels of a lot of known toxins allowed in dog food as well as 4-D animals and animals that were dead prior to rendering that contain pentobarbitol.

    It does not matter whether or not Propylene Glycol is more or less toxic than it’s cousin Ethylene Glycol, it has no place in dog food. It’s in fact illegal to use in cat food. It provides no nutritional value to the animal or humans for that matter and does not belong in either human or dog food.

  • Big Daddy

    Diane – True Propylene Glycol is in Anti-Freeze but do a little research and you will find it is the ingredient used in the safe environmentally friendly Anti-Freeze products. It is found in products you probably use every day like caffeinated drinks, cigarettes, e-cigs, it is used in Pharmaeutical products so the information you are giving is not based on true facts but on antecdotal evidence.

    The product that is toxic in anti-freeze is Ethylene Glycol.

    Purina is a large company but if it was linked to multiple cancer caused deaths of animals I am pretty sure they would not be in business. The only reason you can say they are is that they are the largest producer and seller of feed products so there-by they would have the largest number of animals eating their products which in turn would mean they would have the largest number of animals getting cancer. It is circumstantial at best but chances are that it is not causing the problems you say they are.

  • Diana

    Or how about BEFORE we buy a bag of dog food…we take some time to research online any recalls or lawsuits against ANY companies & we read the list of ingredients in any food we are considering purchasing for our pets? As far as giving more benefit to the larger companies versus the smaller ones…on the flipside of the coin, smaller companies can’t afford to put out an inferior product and have much more to loose while the larger companies can afford to withstand the damage to their company b/c they have tons of money! Take Purina for example. They have been putting Propylene Glycol in our dog’s food for who knows how long now. Countless dogs who were being fed this ‘trusted’ brand are getting sick and dying…yet Purina REFUSES to recall these specific brands that have this poisonous ingredient. Just for clarification..Propylene Glycol is an ingredient found in Antifreeze. It is one of the major ingredients in some of their brands. They justify its use by saying it helps to keep the food dry,yet after reading COUNTLESS list of ingredients on MANY other bags of dog food NOT made by Purina…no one else uses it. Most ironically is the fact that independent testing found these very products contained DANGEROUS & TOXIC levels of mold. A major lawsuit has been filed in the States against them and yet they STILL refuse to recall these products. Just b/c a big company can afford to test our pet’s foods and ensure they don’t put out inferior products….doesn’t mean they do or will. They, like other ‘big companies’ care more about focusing their funds on coverups,denials & discrediting the sources who have exposed them than using it for the reasons we blindly trust them to do…..One ‘study’ I would like done is to find out how many pet owners at Purina feed their antifreeze laced,mold riddled toxic food to THEIR pets???

    As for myself, I have decided that I would feed my dog a couple of cups of QUALITY dog food in the morning & a couple of cups of homemade food at night (usually what I make for supper everyone….just cook extra). He is 7 months old now & has the softest & shiniest fur, the whitest teeth and has incredible muscle mass!!! The vet says he is incredibly healthy & he is VERY happy! Does it mean putting in extra time,money and effort to achieve that? Sure! But peace of mind is priceless and the love I have for him can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

  • dcdawn

    Mine did πŸ™

  • Jessica

    Thanks! I had a feeling that was the case, but I figured I’d ask anyway.

  • The reviews are just based on the ingredient label and guaranteed analysis. Editor’s Choice is more in-depth and takes “all this” into consideration.

  • Jessica

    Do you take all this into consideration when rating the foods? Or is it only a nutritional standpoint?

  • aimee

    No info on that It did say of the 90 tested 63 from US ,20 from Thailand, 4 from New Zealand and 3 from Canada.

    10/63 from US and 4/27 Non US failed to meet NRC RA.

  • Shawna

    Got it.. I’d REALLY like to know which foods were tested and which failed!!!! Oh well….

  • aimee

    Apparently you missed my comment that the diets were selected through use of a random number table. There was no cherry picking.

    And I acknowledged in my original post that fewer product from larger companies were tested.

  • Shawna

    That would be 36 brands from small companies and 9 from large. In my opinion that could seriously skew the findings.. I don’t know if they are all canned but Purina alone has 5 brands of wet foods for cats. They could easily cherry pick the best diets within a company product list I would think.

  • aimee

    Here is a link to the abstract. I got the full text from the vets

    Two cans a fish and a non fish from 45 brands 90 cans total. The diets were selected off pet store/grocery store shelves using a random number table.

    The authors didn’t report carb.contents of the diets evaluated.

  • Shawna

    Where can we find the study on the canned cat food? I know excess fish consumption can lead to thiamin deficiency in cats but obviously in this case the thiamin was missing (likely due to the heat processing) before consumption.

    I did find one source but not sure how reliable it is and he states that 12 of 90 canned cat foods were low. That might represent two companies or twelve??

  • aimee

    I think the strength of a diversified feeding program should be to potentially guard against the unknown not the known!

    Will following a rotational diet keep “us” safe from these inadequacies do to lack of quality control? I’m not sure it always will!

    In the case of thiamin, clinical signs start in about a week and death can occur in a month with a grossly deficient diet, which some of these were.

    I would need to rotate weekly! Considering this study was on canned cat food the cats prob weren’t eating the same flavor every day. But who is to say I might not just rotate from one deficient product to another deficient product? ( 1 in 5 products by small companies were deficient.)

    As consumers I think we have to demand better quality control vs accepting a company’s lackadaisical attitude about putting out an adequate product.

    Looking at the bigger picture if a company isn’t screening to make sure what should be in the diet is in the diet is it safe to say they also are not checking to make sure what should not be in the diet is not in the diet??

    From this small sample It appears that larger companies are more likely to invest in the quality control aspect of the business, not that they are perfect by any means! I think both Purina and Iams have recalled for thiamin in the past. However, the median thiamin level in large company food was over 120 mg/kg and the median in small companies was 20 mg/kg (the min is 5 mg/kg). Large company’s products had more “cushion” and none of their products were deficient. The authors propose this was due to better quality control being done by these companies.

    This has been my experience. For example, this is what I recall from conversations from a large and a small company when I called and asked about their quality control program.

    For the large company I was told every plant based product used has a nutrient analysis run on it along with pesticide, herbicide melamine and mold, alfatoxin, vomitoxin screening before being released from a holding area and allowed into the plant. The animal based meals come with “spec” sheets and nutrient analysis are run as spot check on every few shipments to make sure the spec sheet reflects what they are getting. After the food in made testing is repeated along with heavy metal screening and microbial testing.

    I called a small company and asked the same question. None of the incoming ingredients are screened and after production the food is tested for E.coli and Salmonella.

    Honestly I got the impression the company “nutritionist” ( I use this term loosely as he has no formal education in nutrition; his degree is in marketing) really didn’t know what type of quality control was being done by the co-packers so a lot more may be being done. But he was sure that screening was not done on any ingredients. (He used the spec sheets from suppliers)

  • Excellent point!

  • Federal labeling standards do not require pet food companies to publish the names of their manufacturers on their product packaging. So, unfortunately, you have to check the Internet or contact each company.

  • Thanks for posting this interesting study.

    However, without a consumer having access to test results for each and every batch, there’s no guarantee that any product has a perfect amount of thiamine or any other nutrient.

    That’s why I’m inclined to agree with Shawna. Rotational feeding makes more sense. It provides diversification and greater insurance against imperfections found in any commercial diet.

  • Theresa Zavada

    How do you identify the manufacturer? I’m interested in knowing what brands are manufactured by Southern Tier Nutrition in Sherburne, NY

  • Shawna

    I have to agree with you aimee!! One of the reasons I think rotation and supplementation (with whole foods) is so important. This would be irregardless of feeding foods made by large or small companies!! πŸ™‚

  • aimee

    This is timely information. I recently was made aware of a study that was done that found deficiencies in the thiamin levels in commercial canned cat foods. The researchers purchased foods and then had them tested. 12 of 90 samples were below AAFCO minimums and 14 were below NRC RA. All of the deficient diets were made by small companies.

    72 diets from small companies and 18 diets from large companies were tested. It is possible that since fewer products from large companies were tested deficient diets were missed. However, the median thiamin concentration in diets from large companies were significantly higher than small companies. The authors propose that difference lies in the quality control procedures in place by the companies.

    It is easy to assume that all companies function similarly when actually there are significant differences behind the scenes.

  • Bobby dog

    I was affected by the 2005 Diamond recall, but fortunately it was only a matter of returning six bags of dog food that I had in storage back to the store for a refund. At that time I vowed never to buy another Diamond product. My view of Diamond as a bad manufacturer was formed long before the inception of this website. When I read various comments about negative views of Diamond being expressed on DFA, it makes me wonder if they have any idea of the repeated mistakes Diamond has made over the past ten years. Ironically (but not really), although I vowed in 2005 never to feed another Diamond product I more than likely have been feeding a Diamond manufactured product up until the time I found this website. This was because I was not aware of dog food companies using other manufacturing facilities to make their dog food; now I know, thank you Dr. Sagman.

  • dchassett

    Wow. You were so lucky. Very sad for all the people that lost dogs to such a tragedy but very happy for you and your guys.

  • theBCnut

    Mine were on Diamond then and I knew a number of people who lost multiple dogs then who got their food from the exact same place I bought food. I was fortunate, my dogs never had a problem.

  • dchassett

    OMG! I was going by Dr. Mike’s recall list. I’ve never fed any food manufactured by Diamond. I am so happy I found this site and my girls are on raw thanks to all of you wonderful posters. Even more reason for people to switch to raw. Thanks for posting HDM.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Ugh me either. Never thought I’d say this, but Gus was lucky he was eating Beneful in ’07. Surprisingly it wasn’t one of the recalled foods.

  • theBCnut

    Nature’s Variety’s recall in 2010 was for salmonella contamination in one chicken formula. It was expanded once, but still only in the chicken formula. Their 2012 recall was also only one formula. It was because of a smell problem. Their 2013 recall was because they had some piece of equiment or other shred and go through the processor and it might create a chocking hazard. That doesn’t sound nearly as bad as Diamonds history to me, not nearly. Diamond would never recall because one of their foods might develop a bad smell. And it takes them about 6 months after they start getting reports of problems before they issue the first recall, soon to be followed by multiple expanded recalls.

  • theBCnut

    I don’t want to even think how many dogs died in the melamine disaster.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Diamond had recalls for aflatoxin in 2005 (involved 19 brands and killed dozens of dogs), melamine in 2007, salmonella in 2012 (and that one was a doozy that involved at least 14 brands and kept expanding, not to mention resulted in the hospitalization of several humans) and salmonella (again) in 2013. Diamond was also cited by the FDA for using cardboard and duct tape to repair equipment. I’d definitely feel more comfortable feeding NV..

  • Melissaandcrew

    Diamond has had multiple recalls over multiple years ; )

  • dchassett

    Thanks Mike for always keeping us up to date and well informed. Your site is a Godsend and life saver to many dogs. I, for one, am a better and wiser guardian of my dogs because of you and this site. I do take a little bit of issue with the section on dog food recalls above. Though I do agree with you that it’s not possible to predict with any certainty what companies are going to have recalls and, yes, human error always has to be added to the mix. But, a company like Natures Variety had recalls in 2010, 2012, and 2013. I think, and this is just my feelings for my dogs, it would be safer for my dogs not to eat Nature’s Variety. Whereas a company like Diamond that a lot of people are concerned about had a lot of recalls but they were all in the same year, 2010. So with a company like Diamond maybe one could think they cleaned up their act. Not so for Nature’s Variety. They continued to have recalls. I think a lot of people thought that after all the problems in 2007 that we would see a lot of changes and that nothing like that would happen again, we haven’t and they continue. Nature’s Variety (just for instance) is a company that I myself would feel comfortable in saying that at some point either this year or next will have a recall. Not scientific on my part, just my gut talking to me.