Understanding Dog Food Nutrient Profiles


Minimum Vitamin and Mineral StandardsTen amino acids. Twelve basic minerals. Eleven vitamins. And two kinds of fatty acids.

Whew! No question about it… there certainly are plenty of canine nutrients to think about.

What’s more… each and every one of them is considered absolutely essential… and must be present in the correct amounts… and the right proportions… in every dog food… to help keep your pet free of disease.

So, how can you be sure a particular product meets some kind of minimum dog food nutrition standards?

An Insider’s Secret Revealed

Think about it. Are you really prepared to check every product label to confirm the presence and quantity of each one of these vital nutrients?

Even dog food “obsessives” like me lack the time (not to mention… the patience) to perform that kind of detailed analysis.

But there’s an easier way. And dog food insiders know this label reading secret as the Nutritional Adequacy Statement.

Now, once you know what it is… and where to find it… you can use this simple shortcut to instantly screen any dog food for proper vitamin and mineral content.

How to Know Your Dog’s Food
Meets Minimum Nutritional Standards

The dog food industry defines a nutritionally complete product as one that can be fed to a dog as its sole ration.  In other words, it is capable of maintaining life without adding any other substance… except water.1

Guidelines go on by defining a balanced dog food as one that has “all known required nutrients in proper amount and proportion”.2

Now, think about how unsafe it would be for any dog food to be sold as complete and balanced… when, in fact, that product was deficient in one or more essential nutrients.

That’s what makes a Nutritional Adequacy Statement so valuable.  No, it’s not perfect. But it’s the industry’s most important means for ensuring your dog food meets certain minimum standards.

The All-Important
Nutritional Adequacy Statement

According to the Association of American Fed Control Officials, in order for any dog food company to print the words “complete and balanced” on a package… that claim must first have been validated in one of two ways.

The first uses a product’s recipe (or the laboratory analysis of a sample) to assume it meets AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile3.  Dog food’s meeting this standard usually include words like…

“(Name of product) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles”

The second method not only meets the AAFCO profile… but also verifies nutritional adequacy by conducting actual feeding trials with real dogs.  This type of adequacy statement will probably look something like this…

“Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of product) provides complete and balanced nutrition”

Now, obviously, products tested using this more rigorous method should be given extra consideration.

How to Find the Right Product
for Your Dog’s Stage of Life

Is your dog a growing puppy? An adult? A senior?

AAFCO also requires all Nutritional Adequacy Statements to clearly identify for which life stage a product is most suitable.  Current standards4 include two specific dog food nutrient profiles…

  • Adult maintenance
  • Growth and reproduction

An adult maintenance food is only suitable for non-reproducing adult dogs with normal activity levels.  This same dog food may not be appropriate for growing, reproducing or working animals.

On the other hand, any product described as acceptable for “all life stages” must meet the more stringent growth and reproduction profile.

Sometimes, a product may be labeled for a particular use… or life stage… such as “for senior dogs”.  Even though there are no clear-cut rules governing these various statements, one thing is certain… these special purpose dog foods can have important limitations.

Any product that cannot meet either the adult maintenance or growth and reproduction standards must state…

“This product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding”

In other words… it’s a product not intended for long-term use.

Nutritional Adequacy Statements
The Bottom Line

Nutritional Adequacy Statements can save you lots of time

And they can go a long way toward providing you some level of assurance your dog’s food might actually come close to meeting important dietary standards.

Unfortunately, though, the statements themselves are not always easy to find.  They can be located virtually anywhere on the package.

Yet rest assured… they’re supposed to be there… somewhere.

If you can’t find the statement… or if the statement itself does not declare the product complete, balanced and appropriate for your dog’s life stage… take a pass.

Don’t buy it.

Because feeding your dog the same deficient product day after day… and week after week… can multiply the error… and possibly cost your dog her life.

  1. Official Publication 2008 Edition, Association of American Feed Control Officials, p. 241
  2. Official Publication 2008 Edition, Association of American Feed Control Officials, p. 239
  3. Official Publication 2008 Edition, Association of American Feed Control Officials, pp. 131-132
  4. Official Publication 2008 Edition, Association of American Feed Control Officials, p. 131
  • It does not really matter if it’s made here or there. What you should be concerned about is whether or not it provides the nutrients your dog needs. Especially with an eye on reports that commercial dog food is actually a dog killer because they throw in the carcasses of pets that were put down using a lethal injection, the chemicals in which leave residue in the dog food therefore.

  • crackerb

    I was feeding my small breed dogs (maltest and peke_ Wellness Petite Entrees, which they love, but just read the product is made in Thailand. That bothers me….so I am looking for something that is made in USA with good quality.

  • Carol Dermer

    I have a 2+ yr old spayed female blue heeler and have been feeding Kirkland’s from Costco and she is very healthy. Because the closest store is +60 miles from home I would like to know if “Wild Harvest” premium dog food is just as good. I was given a sample at the grocery store last week and mixed in and she ate it all. I don’t see it listed anywhere. It is made in the USA and distributed by Supervalue Inc. Any help on the quality?

  • Tina

    I hope I’m letting everyone know not to buy everpet

  • Tina

    I don’t usually buy everpet but we was in a hurry and just grabbed something, I just wanna say everpet dog food is gross and I was thinking my dogs haven’t been acting right well I poured out the last after the bag and on the bottom it was molded and maggots were in it, I can’t believe anyone would sell that to someone to feed there dog, I promise you if my 3 dogs die or end up getting real sick I will sue the hell out of you people and make sure your dog food never goes on a shelf again, you are awful people that don’t give a crap about animals well you’ll pay

  • LL

    Absolutely dcdawn is right based on my research and our new puppy is doing very well on these. She loves it, has great elimination, plenty of energy and a shiny coat.
    Just be sure to go grain free.

  • LL

    We just adopted a rottweiler/shar pei 5 months. I like to look at the ingredients that make up the protein, fat, fiber. This is a great site for that and for comparing one brand with another. Costs of the the product may direct you one way or another. We prefer to go with grain free either large puppy or all life stages and mix 2 different products in each serving.

  • mba

    I am curious, LisaLynn, how the Earthborn Holistic is going for your dogs? I am wanting to possibly switch in the near future but can’t find too many reviews about the food. I am also getting a new American Brittany pup soon and was wondering if it is a good choice for puppies? I also have a almost 3 year old Brittany and an 8 month old Brittany. We fed Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Chicken Recipe and just switched to Simply Nourish Puppy Chicken and Rice. I am a little nervous about switching to Earthborn because it is a totally different meat source so the transition may be difficult for the poor guys. Anybody else on this thread please chime in if you have any feedback or answers. I would greatly appreciate it.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi JD A S-
    Congrats on your new pup! Since it is a large breed pup, there are special feeding requirements. Make sure you feed a puppy or an all life stages food, make sure the calcium percentage is appropriate and don’t over feed. It is all spelled out in more detail on this link:

    Good luck and enjoy that pup!

  • Pitlove

    is it a food for large breed puppies or just puppies? there is a big difference

  • JD AS

    i have a 4months old rottweiller puppy , i bought and follow what i have researched in this website, i bought a puppy dog food and its contents are 28% crude protein, 12% crudre fat, 4% crude fiber, 12% moisture… my question is that , is itvmy dog food a good food for my rottweiller puppy?? thank you and god bless

  • dcdawn

    Keep researching!!! Blue is getting very bad rap from that other crap food and has employees spamming everywhere. They actually have a few varieties on this websites Editors Choice

  • dcdawn

    Canada..you are lucky. Orijin or Acana..the top 2 best dog foods in the world short of cooking yourself which is hard to get all the balanced nutrients your puppy needs

  • Venkat Rathnam


    myself and my girlfriend are adopting a 10-11 week old lab Cross shepard. and we were told not to feed foods which has corn in it because the puppy was allergic and was told by the foster mom to move away from royal canin, so can any one suggest which brand of foods can i go with for our puppy? it will be so helpful for us.
    We are a active couple so we would love our dog to stay fit and healthy. And we are from Vancouver,Canada.
    From our suggestions and research we are planning to get “Blue buffalo brand or Nature’s brand” even if your suggestion is a different kindly let us know.

  • Carol

    We have 2 toy poodles one is 10 yrs old and one is 10 months old and we feed them both PC Nutrition First for the past 6 months. They love it and we’ve had no problems whatsoever with it. Its the puppy chow one. It’s rating is 4.5 /5 so you can’t get much better than that plus I would much rather feed them a dog food with a brown rice filler than corn based or other grains. Give it a try.

  • Carol

    Hi is anyone here familiar with Presidents Choice Nutrition First dog food? Its distributed by Loblaws to Superstores in Canada.

  • Len C

    For the little bit that Pomps eat go with a great 5 Star food like Honest Kitchen or Freshpet (refrigerated pet food)

  • SP

    Agree Blue is not good quality.
    Fromm is good quality. They have a variety of flavors.

    It’s important to rotate flavors. After all, would you feed your child the same bowl of cereal every meal, every day, for the rest of their life?

    It’s important to transition to new flavors slowly so they don’t get diarrhea.
    When you are about to run out of one bag, buy a new bag in a different flavor, and every day, add a little bit from the new bag & a little less from the old bag.

    Equally important, the Fromm kibble pieces are small, the size of an eraser on a #2 pencil. I know cuz I have a small dog, & he won’t eat kibble pieces that are large (like the size of a thick dime).



  • Jo Anne

    Is anyone familiar with Doc’s Choice it is available in the mid west central states only?

  • theBCnut

    They have lawyers(multiple) on staff to help with that. We can’t even dream of competing with that.

  • aquariangt

    What trash of human food do you eat that you can’t even find where it’s sourced? And yes, I can supply that information without very much time and minimal work to any of my clients that request it

  • aquariangt

    Half of those make dog food, and they aren’t great. I’m a little baffled why you are comparing smaller dog food companies to massive mega conglomerates? I know you feed diamond, which is just insanely overproduced, but not everyone here does

  • Bobby dog

    Yes! Your points are what I found humorous in BB’s press release. I don’t expect anything from BB I was just poking fun at their attempt to market their “transparency” and throw shade at other pet food companies at the same time. I really need to work on my comedic writing skills…BB’s marketing team is better at it than I am. 🙁

  • theBCnut

    And this may be hard for you to understand, but I have completely different expectations from a company that I only consume food from twice a year, than I have from a company that expects every single meal consumed to be from them year in and year out.
    Again, you bring up US food, there was no mention anywhere about anyone thinking US sourced foods are better than everywhere else.

  • theBCnut

    There is a certain degree of transparency I want, yes. But what I was really wanting in that comment, and maybe if you reread it you’ll realize it, is for BB to not claim to be transparent when they aren’t, and for BB to not bash other companies for not being transparent when BB isn’t. I was commenting on their claim of transparency, not my expectation of it. BTW, one of the reasons I don’t trust these big dog food companies is because they are too big. Too big to care about the people and dogs that use their product.
    Sent from my iPod

  • Bob K

    If you have all the knowledge about sourcing, supply chain, purchasing, multi-location MPS then why are you expecting transparency for dog food and all sorts of details. You don’t get it with human food and you expect it for dog food? Very unrealistic.

  • Bob K

    You want transparency when that is unrealistic with most larger companies that have very complex purchasing, sourcing, scheduling and multiple plants working together to produce competitively priced products. You want more detail than what is provided buy companies that make human food. I hope this helps. Many people think there is something special about foods and ingredients sourced in the US. If you don’t like a company don’t buy their products plain and simple vote with your wallet. Sending notes to companies with unrealistic requests is naive and waste of time. Make the same requests to Hunts, Heinz, DelMonte, ADM, Mars, Hormel, McDonalds, Frito Lay, Post, and see what answer you get.

  • DogFoodie

    And that 3,000 people die every year from food borne illnesses. And, so on…

  • theBCnut

    I was giggling when I realized I was naive about how to spell naive.
    My humor doesn’t translate well either. Such is life…

  • theBCnut

    I got it just fine. Great minds and all that.

  • Bobby dog

    You are correct, I was giggling to myself as I hit the send button.

  • theBCnut

    No, I don’t think so. This is an argument that Bob K totes out every time sourcing is mentioned anywhere. Just like if diarrhea is mentioned he asks about the dog drinking ground water or being exposed to enviromental chemical. They are areas where he has some experience and often people don’t think about them. JMO.

  • theBCnut

    Hi Bob
    Actually some of that I’ve known forever and some of that you educated me about a long time ago, like within the first week you appeared on this site. So no, I’m not naive and I didn’t make the request. I simply said to not hold your breath. Oh, I also said “If you can’t trust the company, you have no idea what’s in the food.” If I trust the company, I trust them to get supplies from decent companies. I don’t trust BB, so I don’t trust them to get supplies from decent companies. I don’t think of Bobby Dog’s request as naive either, since I’m pretty sure that Bobby Dog sent it off knowing that no answer would come. In other words, it is not transparency, it’s just words.
    And yes, we all know your statistic on food borne illness, but what it has to do with anything is beyond me. I have never said anything about only accepting US ingredients, so I don’t know why you tote it out.

  • aquariangt

    Based on every time someone says something about blue’s shadiness and bob k retorting, he either works for them, or has some strange attachment to their food.

    And yes, I understand sourcing of ingredients extremely well. Possibly better than you based on my job. There is nothing wrong with people wanting to know where their or their dogs food is coming from, and your aggressive defensiveness on the subject is uneducated and laughable.

  • Bobby dog

    Wilbur-Ellis, here’s a link to the press release and their comments throwing shade towards other pet food companies that do business with them.


  • Bobby dog

    I suspect you don’t research let alone make inquiries into the food you eat or the food you feed your dog.
    Edit: never assume anything…

  • Bob K

    Bobby dog and the BCnut – I suspect your knowledge of vendor management, Master Production Scheduling and supply chain is limited. Companies often source ingredients from many sources depending on price and availability and what plant is making the product can vary from batch to batch depending on where the demand (orders) is and what is available in inventory. Companies can make a product one day on the west coast and the next day on the east. Ingredients can be sourced locally or perhaps from Mexico or Canada. THe US food supply is nothing special as 3000 citizens die yearly from food borne illness in the US imagine how many more do not die or even go to a hospital. What you are requesting can vary from day to day and your request is naive and simplistic to say the least.

  • I just wonder who the “Plant” is that is mislabeling the chicken products and which manufacturers are getting those products. There are several dog food manufacturers in Texas. What else could be mislabeled from that plant too?

  • theBCnut

    If you can’t trust the company, you have absolutely no idea what is in the food.

  • theBCnut

    Their efforts at transparency are pretty lackluster. Good luck on answers, don’t hold your breath, and all that.

  • Bobby dog

    I couldn’t help myself when I read the press release on their website a few days ago. Somewhere in the statement they mention how being transparent to customers was so very important to them. So, I requested the names of the recipes Diamond produces for them. I also requested the names of any other manufacturer they use and which recipes they produce. Haven’t heard anything back, but I am sure they are busy responding to customers about this press release.

    Edit: who a company does business with, manufacturers’ and food suppliers, is as important as the food they sell.

  • aquariangt

    Yep. Blue has always been shady, and we all knew it, but I’m glad it’s starting to become a little more to the forefront. This is why caring about the company is just as important as what’s in the food itself (as I have tried to say on a few threads in the past and was told that’s unrealistic EDIT: Not by you, I know your feelings on them as well)

  • theBCnut

    WOW!! I wasn’t even referring to the Purina lawsuit by product fiasco, I was referring to all the sick dogs that were reported over the last year and more on their food, even dogs that had been on it all along. How lovely of them to finally admit to something. Too bad they couldn’t be bothered with doing the right thing about it.

  • NewPup Mommy

    Thank you!! I do appreciate the information 🙂 I did not know that about Blue and am still doing my research to make sure my lil guy is happy and healthy! — obviously vet visits but it is nice to always hear other dog lovers and knowledgable thoughts! 🙂

  • aquariangt
  • Bob K

    Using this website as a guide, see what is available in your area that are 4 and 5 star small breed puppy foods and measure it – don’t guess. Remember vet visits for puppy vaccinations and puppy class.

  • NewPup Mommy

    HI! I am bringing a new member to my home, he is 10 weeks old. He is a cute mix between Toy Poodle and Pomeranian. I am new to the Pomeranian side. My biggest concern is making sure I am feeding him the best food for him, not neccessarily the “best” by price either, just what he is going to BEST benefit from for his life. (make sense? lol) I have been leaning towards Blue brand. What do you suggest?

  • Lady D

    my miniature schnauzer has crystals in her urine. She was prescribed UT medication, however, the protein and crystals still exist. I feed her Origen with a small mixture of Nature Valley Extinct. Might the protein level in Origen be too high? What might be an alternative? Any suggestions?

  • LabsRawesome

    Hahaha. IKR? Seriously tho, it is the best budget 5 star food. My dogs just finished a bag of 4health GF duck last night, and this morning they started their new bag of Pure Balance grain free Salmon & Pea. Next up is Victor Ultra Pro 42 YAY!! 🙂

  • Cyndi

    Labs, are you an official spokesperson for Victor now? If not, I think you should be. They should pay you for recommending their food, or, at the very least, everyone that buys their food can enter a code, #LabsRawesome, and get money off or something. 🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Petsmart: Simply Nourish, Authority

    Petco: Whole Earth Farms

    There’s a brand called Pure Balance available at Walmart that is a fairly decent food and reasonably priced (threw that one in even though you didn’t mention Walmart because I think most people live near a Walmart).

    If you’re an Editor’s Choice subscriber there’s a list of budget friendly foods there as well.

    There are also some cheap ways to increase the quality of dry food such as by mixing in left over lean meats or steamed veggies from your meals, eggs, tinned sardines or plain yogurt.

  • LabsRawesome

    The best budget friendly 5 star food I’ve used is Victor. I pay just under $40 for 30lbs. Click their “find a dealer” for a store near you. victordogfood.com

  • Michael

    I am wondering what the very best cost friendly adult dog foods for a 1 year old male Golden Retriever are? I would prefer something that is available at the major chains (Costco, Petsmart, Petco, etc…), but not necessarily. I have heard that the Costco Nature’s Domain food is a good bang for your buck, but I don’t know for sure. Thank you for your time and consideration!

  • Cooper

    Great, thank you.

  • Betsy Greer

    You definitely don’t have to feed small breed formulas and you don’t even have to feed him puppy food. Foods that are labeled “all life stages” meet the AAFCO nutrient profile for growth.

  • Cooper

    Is it nessesary to feed a small breed puppy, small breed puppy food or is puppy food okay?

  • aimee

    The trial is a measure of if the nutrients on paper are getting into the dog. Since this a period of very rapid growth, nutrient deficiencies will be more apparent then during a maintenance trial.

    Growth abnormalities secondary to nutritional errors can show up pretty darn quick. If the diets are really off problems can be seen in mere weeks. I’m sure you have seen pics of 4 months olds with gross limb deformities. Larger breeds of course being more sensitive.

    The OFA standard extended hip view forces the head of the femur into the socket masking hip laxity and making it difficulty to judge conformation. The 24 month window allows time for DJD signs to become apparent so the problem can be”seen”. Hip dysplasia can be diagnosed much earlier by other methods ( Penn hip)

    AAFCO only requires 10 weeks but companies are free to do much more rigorous testing than what AAFCO requires and some of them do.

  • aimee

    Yes an AAFCO growth trial is shorter than a maintenance trial. From a dietary challenge position it is a much more rigorous trial than a maintenance trial. I think the max age of a puppy entered into a growth trial is 8 weeks. Pups in this age group are in the very steep slope of the growth curve when metabolic demands are very high. I’m not sure of the details of the trial I think that the pups have to be from multiple litters and littermates serve as matched controls. The control group is fed a proven diet and the growth rates of the 2 groups are compared along with vet exams and blood parameters. Because nutrient demands are so high during rapid growth deficiencies will be apparent sooner.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Yes – growth trials only last 10 weeks. I’m not sure what a 10 week feeding trial would accomplish aside from weeding out the companies that can’t afford to perform feeding trials.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    What would a 10 week feeding trial tell you? I’m certain the companies that perform feeding trials on their growth foods don’t perform them for 24 months and then have hip x-rays done on the pups.

  • losul

    Is it true that growth food trial protocols are even weaker than for maintenance, needing only to last for 10 weeks? Im pretty sure I read that somewhere.

  • Karin


  • aimee

    Too super cute!!!

    Orijen does not do feeding trials.

    Innova large breed puppy has been through a feeding trial. It will be lower in protein than Orijen. Others like a higher protein level but I’m fine with the level in Innova. Esp since I use all fresh protein as training treats.

    I raised my girl on Purina Pro Plan.

  • Karin

    Thanks. I really appreciate your input. I’m still somewhat of a novice…do you know if Orijen has been through feeding trials? If not, what food would you recommend that has and is comparable in quality, manufacturing, etc.? Here’s a pic of some of the litter at 3 weeks old (1 1/2 weeks ago)…

  • aimee

    You’ll have to post a picture. I’m a sucker for Lab pups.

    My girl just turned 7 she is of “Tabitha” breeding.

    On to your question. Protein will not damage your dog’s liver or kidneys. If the organs are normal the protein level is just fine.

    Orijen did recently reformulate their large breed puppy. The previous formula exceeded recommended Ca level for large breed growth and they have corrected that.

    The current level range from 3.15-3.94 grams Ca /1000kcals. Veterinary nutritionists often recommend 3.5 grams Ca /1000 kcals or less.

    During growth I only feed foods that have been through feeding trials.

  • Karin

    I am bringing home an English, 8-week old labrador retriever in a few weeks. I have always tried feeding all of my dogs a good food, having given my older dogs Solid Gold, Nature’s Variety Instinct and Orijen. I was hoping to feed my new puppy Orijen Large Breed puppy formula however, the Crude Protein is 38% and Crude Fat 16%. Calcium is 1.2/1.5% and phosphorus 1/1.3% (which is ok). I read keeping calcium and phosphorus low is very important in large breed dogs.
    Everywhere I read it says that puppies should have a high protein diet (around 30%); however 38% is very high. I am afraid it will damage his kidney/liver function from long term feeding. Orijen is a great dog food but can you please help me decide regarding the protein content. If this is too high, what would be a comprable puppy food with lower protein levels (below 30%)?.

  • Mary

    My husband and I recently brought home a bouvier des flanders puppy. We are noticing (and are hearing) that this breed can have a sensitive stomach. We are feeding her blue buffalo lamb and oatmeal puppy food, this was what the breeder was feeding her so we stayed on it. We are overwhelmed with the opinions about what to feed our new puppy and need some guidance. Everyone has an opinion, but we just want her to enjoy her food and get the nutrition she needs to grow healthy and strong. Any advice?

  • LisaLynn

    Thank you Sandy. Having knowledgeable dog lovers who I can seek advice from is so comforting! 🙂

  • I agree with Patty. I feed the same kinds of foods to my toy dogs (funny to call them toys since they’re over 20 lbs but they technically are) as I would a large dog. Raw meat/bones/organs and few fruit/veg and some high protein kibble.

  • LisaLynn

    The increased thirst level is not extreme, just noticeable. The protein level is much higher on this new diet so I agree it may just be a dietary adjustment to the extra protein. No problems with accidents in the house. I think I will wait it out as it has only been a couple of weeks. Thank you again!!!

  • Pattyvaughn

    I use the Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast for my dogs and have not noticed any increase in water consumption, so it may be the Abady, or the Primitive may have more sodium than the GPF, or if you are feeding much higher protein, it may be your dog’s way of dealing with the extra protein. It can take a while for them to fully adjust. I would contact Abady and ask about sodium levels in their food, but otherwise I wouldn’t worry about it unless you are seeing a problem suddenly with housetraining or it seems like a really large amount of water. Then I would have the vet look for causes.

  • LisaLynn

    Thank you so much for your response! I’m glad I am on the right track. I have been following your feedback to many subjects on this site and I highly respect your opinions. Regarding sodium, I have noticed that my chi’s thirst has increased since I’ve slowly been altering his diet over the last couple of weeks from the junk he was eating. I’ve been integrating the Earthborne Holistic Primitive and the Abady for toys with yogurt and fresh cooked pumpkin with his old food. He is doing well on it digestively but I’m wondering about the increased thirst. Any thoughts? Thank you again! 🙂

  • Pattyvaughn

    Hi Lisa
    A lot of us believe that breed specific nutrition is a marketing gimick, nothing more. All breeds are decended from wolves and are very closely related to wolves even today. So the closer to feeding them like a wolf would eat, the better. That means high protein, moderate to high fat, and very low carb, unless your dog has a specific medical condition that mitigates this. That means the fresher and less processed, the better. That also means feeding variety, change up what they are eating as often as you can, even daily. It sounds like you already have a good idea of some good base foods. Without balancing your raw meats, it is usually recommended to keed additions to balanced meals to less than 20% of the total diet.

  • LisaLynn

    Sorry, I am the author of the above post… still trying to figure out how to utilize this site’s forums :/ Now that I think I have it figured out I’ll try posting under a different topic. 🙂

  • LisaLynn

    Hi…This is my first post here. I am so happy to have found this site! I am adopting a mini aussie pup and will be bringing him home next week. I’ve had standard aussies, border collies, shelties and lab mixes in the past and I also have a 4 yr old chi. It’s been a while since I had a pup and I am confused about nutrition; namely breed-specific percentages of protein, fat, carb, salt content and calcium. I’m considering mixing Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural (Dry) with *Abady granular (*not rated on this site and I understand why), some raw meats, yogurt/probiotics and antioxidants. Could someone please explain in simple terms what the appropriate ratio is for a mini aussie (appx 30 lbs adult size) and a 7 lb chi as far as dietary percentages? And when I say explain in simple terms PLEASE feel free to send me links to research/articles, etc. I want to be educated but there is sooooo much info out there that is extremely biased. Thank you for any feedback.

  • Pattyvaughn

    The only issue I see off the top of my head would be kibble size. Adult large breed kibble can be quite large for small dogs.

  • shep

    I’m switching my dogs food so I can get it closer to home. I’m trying to match calories per cup with price per lb, but I’m coming up with almost nothing in my price range that will work for my weight sensitive medium sized dog.
    Can I feed a large breed formula to my medium dogs? (specifically Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult)
    It seem like if there are only 2 nutrient profiles, this would work fine for my adult dogs (one is as small as 11 lbs, but she doesn’t need to fewer calories, and one as large as 35 lbs, but again he isn’t the one with weight issues)
    Sorry for the novel. 🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Rink –

    Any of the 4 or 5 star foods that are labeled for “growth” or “all life stages” would be good choices. If you can feed raw, fresh cooked, canned or dehydrated these foods are preferable to dry food as they’re higher in moisture and protein making them more species-appropriate. If you’re going to feed dry food try and mix in some of these more species-appropriate foods on occasion. Don’t limit yourself to one food, variety is important. I’d recommend, at a minimum, picking three different foods (preferably different brands with different protein sources) and rotating between them. Good luck!

  • Rink

    Hi I am going to get an 8 weeks old english springer spaniel in september. I am still not very sure about which brand of dog food is the best. I’m looking for some advice on which dog food is the best for an ESS puppy.

  • I make.dog food for my 4 chis. Lean ground beef or.even boil a chicken and bone it. To that I add oatmeal… about 2 cups. And lowat cottage cheese. All since puppies have eaten it. They are 13-9-6 and 3

  • LH80

    Thanks so much Hound Dog Mom that’s great information, i really do need to stick to kibble for now due to convenience, but I do frequently cook vegetables and meats to top the food, and I also buy good quality cans (well I hope they are) to top the food like wellness, natures variety, a couple others I don’t remember their names. I do think a bowl of kibble seems very boring day after day so at least adding toppings makes it interesting. My vet is always commenting on how my lab has a good weight and I do just that, i monitor his kibble amount and adjust as I see fit and he does really well. I have been looking at natures variety so will go out to find the other brands you suggest as well. Thank you for your help, really great information.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Lh80 –

    Once large breeds are full grown, their dietary requirements are no different than those of small or medium sized dogs. Actually, I typically recommend avoiding foods specifically labeled for “large breeds” because they generally have reduced protein and fat levels and increased carbohydrate levels. This is done in an attempt to support a healthy weight but generally these foods have a negligible difference in calories per cup – weight loss is based on caloric intake not fat or protein intake. These formulas also don’t take into consideration that not all large breed dogs are overweight and even if a dog is overweight it’s preferable to feed a high quality food and reduce portion size (calories) rather than feeding a lower quality carbohydrate (filler) laden food.

    I personally feed my crew a homemade raw diet with protein levels in the 45% – 55% range, fat levels in the 30% – 35% range and carbohydrates 20% or less. I think high protein raw, home cooked, canned and dehydrated foods are superior to kibble – but I understand it can be quite cost prohibitive to feed these types of foods to large dogs.

    If going with a kibble I’d recommend picking the highest protein formula you can afford (I personally don’t recommend any foods with less than 30% protein). Rotate through several brands (variety is important) and top the kibble with a quality raw, canned food, dehydrated food or healthy leftovers (lean meat, eggs, low glycemic veggies) when possible. When I used to feed kibble I rotated brands and protein sources at the end of each bag – some staples in my rotation were Orijen, Nature’s Variety Instinct, Great Life, Acana, EVO, etc. and I always topped the dry with a quality canned food – some of my favorite canned toppers were Nature’s Logic, ZiwiPeak, Tripett, Nature’s Variety Instinct, etc. Whenever I had leftover lean meat I’d mix that in too.

  • Lh80

    Hi hound dog mom, can you recommend a few brands for large breed adults. I have my 3.5 yr old lab on blue buffalo fish and oatmeal but I’m considering a switch. Any recommendations?

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Ridley –

    I’d recommend visiting the large breed puppy forum. There are links to several articles concerning large breed puppy nutrition and a list of 4 and 5 star grain-free foods appropriate for large breed growth (it’s very important to control calcium levels in large breed puppies while they are growing to limit the potential for developmental orthopedic disease – many foods are excessive in calcium).


  • Ridley

    I have a 6 month old lab. We are currently feeding him Eukanuba because that’s what the breeder was feeding him. But I am thinking about switching him to a better dog food, maybe something grain free. He seems to constantly have sleep or eye goop as we call it, in his eyes and I read that changing his food could help. I’m looking for some advice on a new brand for him.

  • Sharen

    Hi, I have a 8 years old miniature schnauzer. She have a sensetive skin. May I know what is the best brand dog food for her? Currently I’m feeding her acana Pacifica.

  • lily

    Priscilla, I have 2 chis that are very picky eaters. however, they really love fromm’s surf and turf. It is grain free and they are natural. a 5lb bag is about $13 but your little ones won’t eat that up too fast.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Firefox –

    Foods labeled “intermittent or supplemental feeding” aren’t complete and balanced and should not be fed long term. They should be used for very short periods of time (a day or two), as toppers to a balanced food or as one or two meals a week. Many foods labeled “intermittent and supplemental feeding” – such as all meat canned foods or raw frozen meat/organ/bone grinds – can be made balanced if you know which ingredients and supplements to add. What are you feeding your dog that it labeled “intermittent and supplemental feeding” and for how long have you been feeding it?

  • Firefox 1

    At what point in time and for which reasons would I STOP feeding my 9 year Black Lab a food labeled ” intermittent or supplemental feeding”

  • Well, yes and no. Fromm has both all life stage and puppy formulas. First of all, what breed of puppy are you getting? What is he eating now? Does the dog have any special needs that you’re aware of? They also have several different groups of products, Four Star, Classics and Gold. Grain free is best for dogs, is that what you’d prefer?

  • Veronica Resendez

    Hi i currently rescued a 3-4 yr old lab mix and will shortly be adoptng a 12 wk old puppy is fromm an all stages for life good for the puppy or should i get a puppy formula?

  • Shawna

    Interesting i8ok, never heard of it…

    If it proves to be beneficial, I would not use it in conjunction with not in place of fish body oils (for people or pets).  Adult dogs are not efficient at converting ALA to DHA and could become deficient even if taking in enough overall omega 3 fats..  Being important for heart, brain, immune system and eyes a DHA deficiency could be quite problematic.  Just my two cents 🙂

  • i8ok

    Anyone heard of camelina? As a source of linolenic acid in dog food? 
    “This wonder plant is a member of the brassica family (along with broccoli, cabbage, and mustard)” 
    “Camelina has been valued since the neolithic times for its oil production but has only recently “re-emerged” into the limelight. Researchers, farmers, and industry leaders are exploring the use of camelina in nutrition of humans and animals, as a biofuel seed source, and cosmetics.  Camelina seed is 35-40% linolenic acid (omega-3)”

  • Radeantred

    The chicken and rice is the very first food our husky has loved,their salmon treats keep him responding to obedience!! We are happy, and with the food being guaranteed to try, its made our trips to the co-op valuable of time and money!!

  • BryanV21

    Since that post was from 6 months ago I’m guessing your advice is too late. Hopefully she already found something, and her dog is alive and well today.

  • Donnas

    l/d Canine, Hepatic Health, made by Hills Prescription Diet.  My pet was recently DX with Liver DZ. and prescribed this.  Hope this helps, my email is [email protected]

  • Duckle6

    Hi, Patricia, I’ve noticed that a lot of vets sell a brand of dog food that’s not known for quality.  I don’t know why.  You can get a nutritional analysis from UC Davis, which has a veterinary medical school.  I’m not sure if they can do it by phone, but you might check.  A vet made me aware that one of my chi’s might be allergic to grains, so I started looking into grain-free foods, which led me to read about dog fiber requirements.  I’m still not sure I understand nutrition very well; but I am sure that much grain isn’t in a wild carnivore’s natural diet, and that most of the plant matter they get is partially digested in their prey’s stomach.  You can buy the stomach and its contents, called “tripe”, in cans and as dried treats.  The plant-based nutrients in tripe are supposed to be more accessible; each type apparently tastes very different, so if they don’t like one, there are several more to try.  

    Also, when I got my first puppy, I read a lot about different diets and checked with the staff at a local pet natural food store called “Dexter’s Deli”, where they sell packaged frozen raw food diets.  I got scared away from raw feeding by the negative press, and decided to just buy it and cook it, adding EFA’s and vitamin powder.  Then, I realized it wasn’t organic, and my own natural Dr. had said that eating organic meats is really important because the fatty acids are better (I think) and the pesticide and drug residue is substantial in non-organic meats.  So, I got Dr. Pitcairn’s book about natural Cat and Dog care and used the recipes in there, with organic ingredients.  Eventually, I cut out the grain.  Then, I ran into budget problems and had to give up buying so much organic meat and went to canned foods.  My puppy had grown up on my homemade foods and is really svelte and strong; she never gets tired on walks. I also raised her on free-feed dry food, and she regulated her own intake.   My second chi is from the shelter, and was really out of shape and tubby, and has allergies.  It’s hard to get him to lose weight, because the other dog is used to eating a bit whenever she is hungry, and if I pick up the food, she gets too thin.  I think the difference in their health is due to diet.  He’s in better shape now, but still tubby.  I think his first owner was a couch potato, because he lies around a lot when we’re not on a walk.

    Recently, I switched to Primal dehydrated raw food and some frozen raw food.  A guy at the store said he had a great dane with allergy-related rashes and ear infections, and when he switched him to raw, it all cleared up.  He said simply cooking the same food didn’t have as beneficial an effect. I felt that they weren’t doing as well on the canned food – the one raised on homemade didn’t like it, and the other one still has allergies.  High quality dog foods are really expensive; and I’m wondering if I should just go back to making it, myself.

  • PiperT

    Look at the ingredient labels…  Science Diet uses a lot of Corn in their foods which is horrible.  Dogfoodadvisor website is great for breaking these things down for you.  I was here to look at a dog food my neighbor an professional dog trainer recommended:  Earthborn Holistic Grain Free dry dog food.  It is rated by DFAdvisor as a 5 star dog food.  Chihuahuas don’t eat that much so you probably won’t mind the extra expense for superior ingredients.  I am looking at the different Earthborn Holistic dog foods to see which one I am going to try for my Dachshunds.  Good luck.

  • Hi, I have 2 very small Chihuahua puppies both approx. 6 months old. I was told by my vet to feed them Science diet/ Healthy Advantage and Euaknuba/ Puppy by their breeder. I am honestly torn and know I want the BEST for my little one’s. The cost is not a problem. Please help!

  • Phe57

    You can make your own dog food. My dog had a mass on his kidney and almost died.  My other dog was so lethargic all she did was sleep. Now my one dog is doing fine with one kidney and the other one is much better. But only after nagging my vet about canned and dry dog food with all kinds of who-knows-what in it. He finally broke down and gave me a receipe I could make and when I questioned if it would be a complete diet he said yes.  Just think about how unhealthy we’d be if we ate canned or dried food all the time…  I use skinless chicken and make one cup of boiled chicken (boil about 20 minutes) and chop it up in a small food processor I found at Target. Then to that add one cup of cooked rice (not instant) and then to that mixture add a 1/2 hard boiled egg and 2 tblspns of lowfat plain cottage cheese.  You can supplement regular dog food to this if you want at about a half and half ratio. The Hills and Iams make an intestional dog food. Just read can the label or call them to check on the copper content. Good luck. I hope this helps you and your dog.

  • Pingback: Acana Grain-Free Review | Bad Food For Dogs()

  • Rheseyj

    Does solid gold seamel have the proper vitamins and minerals amino acids, and fatty acids to make a homemade diet balanced ?? Regardless of the meat , organs , bone , fruit and vegetables in it ? Thx 🙂

  • Cheri

    Is life’s abundance food as good as they say, in addition it is a
    network marketing company, so they have to say that.

  • Rheseyj

    If youto try to find it there are some chicken free weruva human style recipes you could try ! They are expensive though 🙂

  • Mclements3

    our english lab is 16 mos. young, on wellness and is gaining weight.  i want something comprable but am so confused with all the brands, ingredients.  our dog has to lose 5 pounds but don’t want to put her on a weight-loss program, just want a good, healthy, probably chicken free diet (allergies). She also has crystals. What are we to do?  Thanks.

  • Jan_Mom2Cavs

    It may be perfectly fine!  Just make sure they get plenty of moisture, either by plenty of water or adding moist food to the dry.  Also, monitor their coat/skin, stools, urine to see if they are normal.  And make sure not to overfeed.  Many toy dogs and seniors do great on Orijen….it is “top of the line”.

  • Hperry3

    Is 38% protien too high for a 12 yr. old and 2 yr. old Yorkie?  I’m using Orijen Senior.

  • Becky

    My dog has liver failure due to copper toxity.  Is there any dog food that does not contain copper in it’s ingredients?

  • Shawna

    Hi Yenlengchia ~~ Was there protein in the urin?  If only small amounts or none at all then no it is not advisable to feed a low protein diet in the early stages of kidney disease.  Instead, you want to feed a diet of “high quality” protein but lower in phosphorus.  Protein doesn’t damage the kidneys of renal dogs but phosphorus can.  In the early stages you don’t have to go LOW phosphorus but lowering phos is advaisable.  Feeding low protein will cause more harm then good.

    Kibbled foods are not advisable as dehydration is an issue with kd and kibbles are dehydrating.  Either feed canned, home cooked or raw.  I feed my kd girl raw and have for the last 5 plus years.  Always keep fresh clean water available.

    A high quality probiotic (like the one on Mercola Healthy Pets or Garden of Life’s Primal Defense) and a prebiotic (like Fiber 35 Sprinkle Fiber) will help keep the blood clean with a process called nitrogen trapping — which will allow for an even higher protein diet.

    The below linked website is the most informative site I have ever found on all things related to dogs and kidney disease.  Also explains how low protein is NOT necessary.  Here’s just one quote from the site —

    “Feeding the Older Dog from the SpeedyVet Clinical Nutrition Library “The assumption was that low-protein diets retarded the progression of renal degeneration. This assumption was disproved, using partially nephrectomised dogs, which showed no uraemic signs and had reduced but stable renal function for 48 months. These dogs did better on moderate-protein diets than on low-protein diets. There is no direct evidence that high protein intake damages canine kidneys or that reducing protein intake in dogs with renal dysfunction results in preservation of either renal structure or function.”  


    “Kidney Failure from the Iams nutrition symposium “’For years, physicians and veterinarians have treated renal failure by reducing protein levels in diets,’ said Gregory Reinhart PhD, an Iams researcher. ‘After working with leading universities, we have now found that restricting protein in a dog’s diet may do more harm than good by potentially putting the companion animal at risk of protein malnutrition.’”   http://www.dogaware.com/health/kidneyprotein.html

    There’s tons more references about the low protein myth as well as diet recommendations, medications etc.  Excellent site!!!

    Do let me know if you need more info.  There is much I have not included as this is already too long.. 🙂

  • Yenlengchia

    Hi Shawna,

    My 14.5 yo Jack Russell was recently diagnosed with mild kidney problem (Bun: 60 & Crea: 1.4) and given Royal Canine Renal kibble & can. His vet recommends low protein diet. I keep seeing from some Renal sites that keeps saying normal or high protein is ok for renal problem dogs. Is it really true? Am confuse. Wonder should I continue with his prescription diet. But I intend to get Wellness topper to add as supplement on top of his prescription diet which he dont really like. Please advise. Thanks.

  • Anonymous


    You can go with a higher protein grain food like Canidae Single Grain Protein Plus (just rice) or Solid Gold Sundancer (quinoa) or even Nature’s Logic (millet). The higher protein level in these foods would make it have less carbs if you prefer staying with a grain food.  You can also add a digestive enzyme to feeds that will help with digestion.  Or go grain free.

  • Anonymous

    I think that’s a good idea Peggy, given that labs have a tendency toward gaining weight, and I’m finding all kinds of research on carbs contributing to obesity, right now. 🙂 Since elevated body fat can contribute to hypertension, diabetes and hypothyroidism in dogs, it’s something we want to avoid..

    You catch that Mike S?! GFETE Very profitable research! LOL this is a fascinating and interesting study, thanks for sparking my interest!!!

  • Anonymous

    Peggy, I actually have 3 senior dogs and they can eat grain inclusive food just fine.  They are small dogs.  They can handle most grainfree dog foods, too……but do better on moderate protein perentages (around 30-35).

  • peggy

    I have a 15yr old lab and through reasearch found out that grains are hard for senior dogs to digest. Anyone else’s senior dog have this prob? and what did you do to fix the issue.  I feed all my labs Flint River Ranch but it’s heavy in grains. Thinking of going grain free. Any Ideas with this problem?

  • Jan (Mom to Cavs)

    Esther, I think either one would be good for them. If they like the Darwin’s and you are happy with it, then use it. Nature’s Variety is a good premade raw, too, so you could actually rotate between the two brands. I rotate between NV, Primal and Steve’s Real Food.

  • Gordon

    Esther – What mess exactly are you concerned with, if you don’t mind me asking?

  • Esther

    Dear Mike, I have two small dogs and have given them NV Raw chicken in the past and stopped just because I didn’t want to deal with the mess, well I came across the Darwins Raw website and am back to giving them raw food again, I am a little confused as to which one is better for them, NV or Darwins??

  • Michelle

    gerri, check out Merrick’s 5* canned foods. They are approved for diabetic dogs.

  • Hi Gerri… Unfortunately, since I’m not a veterinarian and due to the biological uniqueness of each diabetic pet, it would be inappropriate for me to provide specific product recommendations. However, you may wish to check one of the dog foods on our website claimed by their manufacturers to be low glycemic.

    Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

    I’m not sure about the pricing of these products. In any case, since diet is so critical with diabetes, be sure to run any choice by your vet. Hope this helps.

  • gerri

    I have a diabetic …very allergic 3 year old shih-tsu . H e is eatting Royal Canin Hypo Rabbit food but at $83.00 every 3 weeks I am nearing the poor house. I also have another dog ..who eats Artemis and loves it and does well. Any suggestions for my diabetic pooch other than what he is eating now.?

  • Shawna


    Yes, the book is wrong or you are interpreting it wrong.. There is no breed and only two diseases that would warrant the lowering of protein — END stage kidney disease and liver disease/shunt. My dog Audrey who is a 9 pound Chihuahua/poodle/Boston Terrier mix was born with kidney disease and has been on a high protein diet her entire life. She is now 5 years old and doing fabulously. HOWEVER, you don’t know me (I’m new here) so going to quote from Dr’s Foster and Smith DVM website.

    “If your dog eats too much protein, some will be excreted in the urine and the rest will be used as calories or converted to fat – causing your dog no harm…..

    Does high protein cause kidney disease?
    No. This myth probably started because, in the past, patients with kidney disease were commonly placed on low-protein (and thus low-nitrogen) diets. Today, we often put them on a diet that is not necessarily very low in protein, but instead contains protein that is more digestible (therefore producing fewer nitrogen by-products).” http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?aid=459

    Mary Straus has some EXCELLENT information on her website dogaware.com. Mary writes nutrition articles for Whole Dog Journal and other publications. Mary is (or was) a moderator on one of the Yahoo kidney forums as well.

    “Nutrition and Renal Function from the Purina Research Report
    “Dietary Protein and Renal Function: Results of multiple studies indicated that there were no adverse effects of the high protein diets.

    Demystifying Myths About Protein from Today’s Breeder Magazine
    “In contrast, research over the past 10 years or so has shown that protein does not harm the kidney of dogs. In studies conducted at the University of Georgia in the early 1990s, both in dogs with chronic kidney failure and in older dogs with only one kidney, protein levels as high as 34 percent caused no ill effects. . . . In other studies, David S. Kronfeld, Ph.D., indicated that compared with high- or low-protein diets, moderate-protein diets, those with up to 34 percent protein, had no ill effects in dogs with chronic renal failure and were associated with general improvement.” http://www.dogaware.com/health/kidneyprotein.html

    There is a TON more information on Mary’s site.

    Low protein diets spare the kidneys is a complete and total myth.. The ONLY reason protein is restricted in late stages of kidney disease is because the kidneys are not able to filter the blood and blood urea nitrogen (a normal byproduct of protein digestion) and creatinine (a normal by-product of muscle renewal) build up in the blood and cause symptoms like vomitting, acidosis etc. Phosphorus is the one to watch in failing kidneys — phosphorus DOES cause damage. Phosphorus is very high in grains and some meats. Example — Sciene diet canned k/d uses egg whites but not the yolk – the yolk is high in phosphorus.

    Hope that helps 🙂

  • Hi Michael… When I last updated this review (August 2010), the AAFCO statement was not posted on the Hill’s website. Thanks to your help, I’ve now updated this information. Thanks for the tip.

  • Michael

    I just read Science Diet Natures Best Dry dog food product details on the http://www.hillspet.com website and that food DOES have an AAFCO statement. Why does your website say there is NO AAFCO statement. I feed my K9 Blue Buffalo but could not overlook this detail. Are you still correct or is this AAFCO statement about the food new? Thx, Mike

  • I didn’t know where to post this info:

    Petfood Industry, WATT eLearning unveil online nutrition course

    Petfood Industry launches first interactive petfood nutrition course

    Release Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 Comments(0)

    Petfood Industry launched its first interactive petfood nutrition course, “Building Blocks of Companion Animal Nutrition.”

    This six-module online course, developed by Linda P. Case, MS, owner of AutumnGold Consulting, provides a thorough examination of the science of companion animal nutrition and practical feeding management for dogs and cats. Watt (parent company of Petfood Industry and Petfood Forum) has made the “Building Blocks of Companion Animal Nutrition” course available through the online educational portal, Watt eLearning.

    The “Building Blocks of Companion Animal Nutrition” course includes six modules, an accompanying textbook and certificate of completion. Course content is designed to meet the needs of petfood professionals, animal scientists, nutritionists, veterinarians, breeders, exhibitors, judges, trainers, hobbyists and others seeking a scientific understanding of basic nutrients and their functions, companion animal nutrient needs and feeding behaviors.

    Case is a recognized expert in the fields of canine and feline nutrition, behavior and training and companion animal health care. She operates AutumnGold Dog Training Center and is the author of four books, as well as numerous scientific papers and pet owner educational materials. Case also served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and lecturer and program coordinator at the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences.

    Log on to http://www.wattelearning.com to learn more, sign up and gain immediate access to the course. Check back often for new sessions and updated offerings.

  • Hi Paul… Each food contains its own unique energy (calorie) content. So, you always have to adjust the serving size a little when you switch to a new recipe. Since each dog has its own unique energy requirements (just like people), there’s no way to reliably predict the exact serving size that’s right for each pet. No matter which method you use.

    So, I’d suggest starting with the package’s feeding instructions. Always measure the food with a real measuring cup. Not a scoop. Never guess. Keep an accurate record of how much you’re feeding.

    Be sure to weigh your dog periodically (every few weeks or so). Then, simply adjust (titrate) that serving size up or down to establish and maintain your pet’s ideal weight.

    Of course, determining the ideal weight for a growing puppy can be a challenge. So, check with your vet, an experienced breeder or another canine professional.

    Unfortunately, due to the biological uniqueness of each pet, I cannot provide reliable product comparisons for each reader. For more help, please check out my reviews and visit our FAQ page. Look for the topic, “Help Me Choose a Dog Food”. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers. Hope this helps.

  • Paul Katz

    I was feeding my health yellow lab 5 years old 90 lbs eucanuba adult dry. I just started weining him onto the wilderness this morning. he has a very sensative stomach like most labs. I read the amounts that the MFG said to use. sounds to much to me.

    I was feeding him 1 cup am and 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups max pm I am slowly mixing in the wellness 1/4 at a time. the question is, is this a better food and should i be giving him the same amounts as before as i was told or less?? Paul

  • Hi Gayle… In the Bottom Line of each review, I state whether a product is high, average or low in each macro nutrient (based upon the averages in our database). Please see our FAQ page and look for the topic, “How We Rate Dog Food”.

  • Gayle

    Please explain your rating system highest to lowest specifically regarding :
    INGREDIANT: above average, quality, top quality, first rate, and top drawer
    MEAT QUANTITY: significant, generous, notable
    I am comparing 5 star dry foods side by side
    Thank you

  • Hi Johanna Levy
    Unfortunately you are only describing parts of the process that were recommended to you for your three itchy French bulldogs – it is easy enough to forget or overlook something when it a new process and one that you are unfamiliar with. Let me reiterate the process and the reasoning behind it as it is quite sound and can be very helpful when switching dogs from one food to another when they resist the change and you know the change is good for them.

    First of all it is very common for dogs to actually be “hooked” on the sugar high they get from a diet high in grain or white potato, even though it can also cause stomach upset and skin conditions, and they will resist switching to other healthier foods. When this happens, as a god parent, you must help them make the transition because you know it’s in their best interests. what I usually suggest is that you mix the old food and new food together over a period of a week or two by slowly adding more of the new food each day. This will not always work so an alternative is to simply put the food down and if they don’t eat after 20 minutes then take it up. Remember that it is quite possible for your three cute ones to train you, rather that the other way around, if you’re not careful. This process is repeated twice a day until they do finally eat and acquire a taste for the healthy food. For even stubborn dogs this is usually effective within three days. No dog will willingly starve itself. People often think that this is a mean thing to do to a dog but how much meaner is it to feed them a low quality food that keeps them constantly itching just because they refuse to eat the healthy food right away? A wise parent chooses what is best in the long term for their child – right?

    Now, as for the dog “suffering” if it decides not to eat for a few days you need to become aware of a fact about dogs that is not well known. After about 16 to 24 hours without eating a dogs body will begin a process called GLUCONEOGENESIS where their body takes fat to their liver and their liver converts it into glucose. You and I need to eat carbohydrates to get some glucose into our system but dogs have developed GLUCONEOGENESIS because in nature there is no one feeding them every 12 hours AND they must maintain energy to be able to hunt even if they don’t eat for a week or two. Because we feed our pets every 12 hours we teach them to expect food on that schedule and their stomach usually begins to prepare for it at the normal time. This is what you are hoping to take advantage of to get them to try the new, healthier food. However after a bit their stomach will forget the schedule and their bodies will convert fat to glucose and they will “feel” fine.

    I have read a book by a man in Europe who has trained rescue dogs for decades and he describes how, when the dogs go on location, they only give them water during the actual rescue operation because they actually perform at a higher level when Gluconeogenesis kicks in because dogs use about 40% of their energy eating, digesting, and eliminating food. The dogs “feel” great because they have a constant (not fluctuating supply as when they eat) of glucose and once the rescue operation is over they go back to eating. On another note they only feed the dogs every other day but let the dogs eat as much as they want. This is possible because dogs, unlike humans, have stomachs that will expand like an accordion and allow they to eat up to 8% of their body weight in raw food at one meal. This allows their stomachs to rest in between meals and thanks to GLUCONEOGENESIS the dogs feel great the rest of the time. Every third feeding they wait 3 days to feed them (in other words they feed them 3 times a week) because they do not want to train their stomachs to begin preparing for a meal at a set time. This more closely approximates the way these dogs ate for millions of years and works because of their inherent ability to use Gluconeogenesis to maintain blood sugar.

    In nature when dogs would begin Gluconeogenesis it would also initiate a natural fasting condition which would naturally and painlessly help them detox – which is another process that helped them to stay healthy. I do a juice fast every few months and during that period I often which I were a dog and could use Gluconeogenesis to feel better.

    You can learn more about Brothers Complete by reading Mike’s review or going to their web site at brotherscomplete.com or
    by just clicking on my name. You might want to read the “Brothers Document” that is under the drop down menu “Why Brothers” to learn a bit more. Sorry for the confusion but your French bulldog babies will feel much better once they are on Brothers.

  • Hi Janice… The pet food industry is not policed by AAFCO but by the US FDA. As the name suggests, AAFCO is made up American feed control officials appointed or elected to the organization. Along with the National Research Council, AAFCO helps set guidelines, definitions and standards for commercial pet food. They are not funded by pet food manufacturers. Hope this helps.

  • Janice

    Got some concerns about the true value of the AAFCO. Per a recent article I read: ” The duty of the policing of thye pet food industry falls to the AAFCO. AAFCO review of pet food is strictly VOLUNTARY. Just because a product says “formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO” does not mean it was approved by the AAFCO or that it underwent feeding trials.
    The AAFCO represents agricultral interests with products to sell – not the interests of pet owners, etc. It is controlled by the large pet food conglomerates. The source of pet food ingredients constantly change, since they buy their ingredients from the most COST-EFFECTIVE SUPPLIER. And cost is inversely related to the quality of the ingredients.”
    How true or misleading are the above words?

  • Marcey

    Hi there,

    I’ve gotten mixed opinions about this food. I have a 5mo goldendoodle pup, who’s pretty finicky with kibble. We were originally feeding Artemis, which he never really liked and would not eat unless it was topped or mixed with canned food (which we give regularly anyways). I’ve gone to a couple specialty food stores and CA Natural Grain Free Chicken was highly recommended- and our pup LOVES it! With or without his canned food! All great. So my question is- IS this line ok/safe/appropriate for a 5mo pup to be consuming? Vet has said yes, as have all specialty dog food places, saying that it’s filled with great, high quality ingredients, therefore making it safe for all life stages; yet it clearly marked to be for Adult Maintenance. Please help!



  • I agree Mike P, and don’t claim otherwise, not to mention the amount of times I’ve posted exactly that. However, I would have thought, (Although I’ve only heard from reliable sources about the fact that their pet nutrition elective is a poor and insufficient one), that at the very least, it would be mandatory, that they know what levels of generic proteins and other nutrients, specific animals and breeds should ideally be privy to.

    But there has to be a fine line between criticising the conventional thinking Vet, and recommending readers to consult with Vets when the going gets tough in being requested to answer veterinary medical type questions, even relating to what foods should be fed or ideal protein levels of a specific breed. A court of law, as an example, would entirely disregard this and similar websites not architected by Vets, if it came to sought expert advice on most of these many raised reader inquiries.

  • Mike P

    most vets don’t know jack about food . kinda weird but true

  • mariana

    Gordon!, Thank you soo much for the advice! xoxo!

  • mariana

    Mike!! Thank you soo much! this was very helpful!!, xoxo!!!

  • Mariana – You’re best off to consult a Veterinarian on your issue about ideal protein levels for a Yorkshire, and any other pet related concerns. There are many good on line ‘Ask a Vet’ forums. Just do some smart Google searching!

  • Hi Mariana… Not everyone would agree with that low protein recommendation. To learn more about this subject, please visit our FAQ page and look for the topic, “Dog Food Protein”. Be sure to follow the links you’ll find there, too.

  • mariana

    Hello everyone!
    I need urgent help please!, I have a 1 year old yorkshire, I was reading the book, ¨yorkshire for dummies¨, and there It says that you shouldn’t feed your yorky with food that contains more than 22 percent of protein content, otherwise too much protein could strain yorkie’s kidneys. Most of dog food (dry) contains more than this amount of protein, even food made specially for yorkshires, what do you think about this? do you think the book is wrong? am i interpreting this the wrong way?

    Thanks, Mariana

  • Gordon

    Alyssa – Check out all the 5 star raw foods listed on this website. Go here if it’s easier – http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/raw/5-star/

    If deciding on raw foods (As nature intended), take the same precautions and sanitary responsibilities as you would when preparing raw foods for humans prior to cooking.

    That would be my suggestion. Alternatively, go for a 4 or 5 star canned food, preferably containing lamb meats.

  • Alyssa

    I have a lab puppy who has been having issues with food. We have tried nutro adn Eukanuba. But the issue is still there. She has been on Eukanuba for almost a month but the past two nights has gotten sick around 3 am. on Nurto she had the run after her being on it for 3 months. Any idea how to solve this issue and What is the best food for her to be eating?

  • Mike P

    Thanks Megan ..She may be a grass eater ?? Winter is over now , so it might be a tempting snack ..

  • Meagan

    Mike P-From what I have been told in classes and what not is that dogs eat grass, just because! I know thats not an explanation, some people say it is because of an upset stomach. My two were eating grass the other day. First time they have in a long time. I really do not think it is from her grain free food, becasue mine are on diamond naturals and as I said they were eating grass the other day. I do stop them only beacuse I do not know if the grass is treated or not. It was not in my yard, but during an outing. Hope this helps ease your mind. As far as I have heard from my professors they eat grass because they can.

  • Mike P

    Hey Megan , can I ask you a question ? My dog eats grain free kibble but I do top off with various canned . She has started to eat some grass on walks . No loose stools or puking . Can it be from her grain free diet ??

  • Meagan

    I have not had a puppy yet in my life so maybe I shouldn’t put my 2 cents in anyways LOL. Both mine have been a year or more when I adopted them. I did graduate in a Veterinary Assistant program though. 🙂 I’m sure Megan will figure out whats best for her baby.

  • Mike P

    LOL Megan , try and keep a baby Boxer from running and jumping until they are 18 mo old ….never happen ..But you can overfeed them

  • Meagan

    Hi Megan- I have read and heard from many people that “puppies shouldn’t be allowed to run or jump excessively until they reach full physical maturity, which is 18 months-2 years.” “The pounding it takes from jogging can damage skeletal development and lead to JOINT problems.” And of course don’t let her get overweight. Hope this helps!

    Dog Bible
    Preventing Joint Problems
    Pg. 492

  • Hi Megan… If you feed a food designed for puppies (meeting AAFCO profiles for all life stages or growth), then you should not need any supplements. Supplements on top of a good quality food can move your dog’s diet closer to achieving toxic levels of minerals. According to many experts, the leading cause of bone and joint diseases (especially in puppies of larger breeds) appears to be overfeeding. So, be sure to avoid free feeding. Please visit our FAQ page for more information.

  • Megan

    Hi all I just rescued an 8 week old (now 9 weeks old) pitbull puppy from the local kill shelter. Her litter was abandoned in a field and picked up when she was 6 weeks. She was pretty thin when I got her and has kennel cough but it’s getting a little better and her energy level is skyrocketing. The only problem I’m really having is when I first brought her home from the shelter and would take her outside she would devour grass, sticks, woodchips, shrubs, anything she could get a hold of like her life depended on it. My brother adopted her sister and she does the same thing. I’m assuming this is from having to survive in a field on whatever they could get a hold of? She’s getting better but now she is eating rocks?! I read that this could be a sign of a mineral deficiancy and also that pitbulls have a tendency to eat anything. I haven’t had that problem with her yet (knock on wood). I am feeding her Eukanuba large breed puppy it’s AAFCO “Complete and balanced nutrition for growth.” She was on purina puppy chow and I switched her over pretty fast (kicking myself for fast switch I know better), her vet mentioned all the dyes in the food could cause allergies down the road so I jumped the gun. Her stools are a little dark and on occasion soft. She threw up three times in one day earlier this week which was when I realized as we were walking she was grabbing rocks and dirt (could see the dirt in her throw up). Should I try a mineral supplement or switch her to a better food? I am on a budget but she is a growing active little dog I’m concerned she’s missing something from her diet. She also loves to run. Should I be looking for a food with ingerdients to support her joints as well? We’re running on the sidewalk, 10-15 minutes of warped speed and then nice walk. She doesn’t even get winded I just don’t want to put too much strain on her joints. Thanks for any advice you can give! – Megan

  • Stephen

    I have 4 Belgium German Shepherds and they enjoy Black Gold Lamb and Rice dog food alot, I have a litter of pups now and some of them leave their bowl of Diamond lamb and rice puppy food and go and eat there mothers Black Gold lamb and rice. Thanks Black Gold… Starlight Kennels

  • Hi Johanna… I’m not sure what dog food you’re talking about here. But I’d certainly question a salesperson’s recommendation that you should starve your dogs for 3 days. Preventing your dogs from eating sounds medically unscientific (and cruel) to me. I would certainly not recommend following this rather dubious and unprofessional advice.

  • johanna levy

    hi Mike, i have 3 french bulldogs, the used to have skin allergies very bad,, so i gave them the taste of the wild dry food and they are much better, still itch a lot, and they want to eat grass all the time,, so i think they’re stomach maybe hurts . at the doggy store they recommend me to give them brothers grain free red meat protein food,, they told me to not feed them for 3 days and slowly star feeding them with the new food,, iam looking every where for info about this new food, i cant fine anything really good yet,, if you can,, please help me to find out if this brother food its good choice or not,, so i can star feeding my dogs againg,, please help me im so sad about not feeding them for one day,, and i dont know if im doing the best for them,,, thank you very much

  • Janice Carpenter

    I am a brand new pet owner. The puppy is only 5wks old and still with the breeder. I am excited and was confused before I was introduced to you. This has been very helpful…hope I never see some of these difficult problems. I have a bran new pup and I am going to start him on Blue Buffalo puppy food. I hope for many wonderful years of gettting to know my soon to be new friend. I really liked all of your wonderful advice, I have learned alot. Thanks

  • Monica

    **INFO OVERLOAD** ack, I am trying to educate myself as to what foods have more quality for my dogs (I foster rescued labs) and I think I am more confused now than before – there is soooo much to consider!! I will be on this site FOREVER trying to narrow down my choices!! thanks…I think?! 🙂

  • Karen

    Preventing hot spots on cream/apricot standard poodle:
    I’ve read a few places from owners that changing a dog’s food will prevent hot spots. Do you know which nutrients might help avoid this condition? My dog is 11 months now, and last Summer I think she had a couple of hot spots. I am feeding her Native puppy level 3 and also Canidae. She tolerates the food change well. She consumes about 20# a month and weighs about 38#. Excellent dog, except for some stubborn streaks that I KNOW she gets from my 3 & 1/2 year old grandson! Also, what is in Science Diet that made one of my former dog’s fur and eyes so beautiful? She was a 20# cockapoo, black/tan/white. She looked more cocker than anything. I won’t use SD again, but I wish I knew what made the eyes so brilliant and the fur so smoothe and shiney. Thanks, Karen

  • Hi Dave… You make a very good case in favor of using standard indirect methods for establishing the nutritional adequacy of a product. Especially regarding the question of whether the number of animals used is statistically significant. Using the scenario you created in your argument, I (too) must question the true value and accuracy of AAFCO feeding trials.

    I must commend you for the practical reasoning behind your comment… and for making me rethink my own bias.

  • Dave Hopper

    Hi Mike,

    Great website, I cant thank you enough for providing this great resource to the concerned pet owner.

    I would like to get your opinion on one thing though. it has to do with the “Nutritional Adequacy Statement” section above.

    below the lines:
    “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of product) provides complete and balanced nutrition”

    You Remarked:

    “Now, obviously, products tested using this more rigorous method should be given extra consideration.”

    I would tend to think just the opposite.

    If a company formulates their kibble to AAFCO guidelines, you are reasonably assured a minimum nutritional value.

    However, If a company chooses to formulate their food outside of these guidelines.. then a feeding trial is their only option to get an AAFCO approval.

    Therin lies the problem.

    AAFCO’s guidelines that a minimum of 8 animals are used, and that the kibble being tested is the only nourishment provided ( besides water),

    The tests run for 26 weeks and up to 25% of the animals may be removed from the testing, the rest must complete the test.

    During this time, no animal may loose more that 15% of it’s body weight. Physical exams are conducted before and after the feeding trials, and there is bloodwork done at the end.

    Following these guidelines, if you start with 8 healthy 20 pound dogs, and during the course of the 26 weeks, 2 of them lose 20% of their body weight, and the other 6 lose 15%, the two that lost 20% can be removed from the test, and it is considered a success.

    Personally, The idea of a food that can cause this much of a degredation to the dog’s condition, is far from a “success”

    Now I realize that I’ve just illustrated a “worst case” scenario, and it’s doubtfull that any food would have this dramatic of an effect on the test animals, but the potential is there, for a low quality food to get AAFCO approval and be presented to pet owners as a viable food source.

    What are the implications.. if the worst case happened.. and the test animals lost 15% of their weight in just 6 months, how does this play out for a pet owner who may feed their dog this food for years.

    I would hope that a truly concerned pet owner would notice the physical changes to their animal and switch foods, however the damage may be done by this time, Mal nutrition, organ damage, etc…

    Personally, I think that the “feeding trials” alternative needs to be rethought… stricter standards, longer term testing, and a larger sample group really need to be implemented, before these tests are considered adequate to earn the AAFCO label.

    Your thoughts?


    Dave Hopper

  • Hi Fred… In most cases, whether the chondroitin and glucosamine are denatured by the cooking process isn’t really the issue. That’s because most dog foods that claim to contain chondroitin and glucosamine usually don’t contain enough of these “drugs” to create what’s referred to as a therapeutic dose (enough medication to achieve the desired clinical effect). To make any real difference for your dog, you may wish to discuss supplementing your their diet with these potentially helpful “nutraceuticals” with your pet’s veterinarian. Hope this helps.

  • Fred Neal

    I’m looking at a change of diet for my 4 Mastiffs. Two of my furgurls have joint issues and I am adding supplemental glucosamine and chondroitin. When I was discussing that one of the foods I was considering had a considerable amount already with a friend, they commented that it was added prior to cooking and it’s effectiveness was destroyed by the heat of cooking, therefore making it useless.

    Thoughts, comments? I appreciate your work here. It sure is hard enough making the right decisions, even without the mfgs. throwing you curves like this.

    As you might imagine, with 4 Mastiffs nothing dog is done in a small way around my house!

  • jessica long

    i think iots wrong and cruewl

  • Louise NOËL

    Concerning ears yeast infections, I got this problem with my golden retriever. I solve the problem with “Tee Tree Oil”, a natural antiseptic.

    Here is the text I wrote at the time (it is not on the Net anymore. You are welcome to use it as you wish.)

    How I came to use Tee Tree Oil to prevent ear infections (otitis) in my dog:

    Problem description:
    I have a 6 and a haft years old female golden retriever named Fanny. I got her in April 1996, at the age of seven weeks. In May 1996, a few weeks after her first vaccine, she developed an ear infection, which came back many times during that summer and every summer since then, except for the last summer. The triggers seem to be the vaccine she receives or swimming, either in soft or salt water. I have been told that dog with falling ears are more subject to develop ear infections because their ears are less exposed to the drying quality of air. The inside of ears stays constantly humid and this environment is favourable to recurrent ear infections. The hot and humid temperature of summer increases this situation which could explain why all of Fanny’s ear infections have happened in the summer. It seems that after a dog has had a first ear infection, she is more susceptible to have more, even if the first was well treated with antibiotics.

    How I tried to solve this problem until spring of 2002:
    Until spring of 2002, each time Fanny had an ear infection, I treated her with the antibiotic prescribed by the veterinary. This medication is excellent to cure ear infections. However it can’t be use as prevention and it has a disadvantage: it is an oily product that stick to the hairs of the dog’s ears and then spread to the hairs of the head and neck. When the dog plays outside, dust and dirt also stick to this oily stuff. After a few days the dog’s head gets very dirty and must be wash. I have tried alcohol to clean the hairs with little success. Moreover the repetitive use of an antibiotic (in Fanny’s case: 2 – 3 times each summer!) seems to me questionable, without taking into account the cost implied. It is know that bacteria develop with time a resistance to antibiotics. I am afraid that this antibiotic being use very often will become less and less effective. And anyhow, I think preferable on the medical and social perspective to limit as much as possible the utilisation of antibiotics: they become less and less effective, they must be replaced constantly and this is dangerous for the animal as well as the human health.

    How I heard about Tee Tree Oil:
    For all the reasons mentioned before, I was very happy when I came upon an article by Jonathan Margolis titled L’huile miracle (The Miracle Oil) in an issue of the October 2001 Reader’s Digest (French Canadian edition, pp.: 96 – 100). This article described the antiseptics effects of Tee Tree Oil for a variety of infections. I decide to try it as prevention for Fanny’s recurrent ear infections.

    How I chose the produce:
    • Many companies produce Tee Tree Oil and it comes in various presentations.
    • After a research on Internet, I chose a company which produces are available in the health stores of the city where I live: Montreal (Quebec, Canada).
    • I then e-mailed this company to ask if this produce could be useful in Fanny’s case or, in the contrary, if it could be harmful. In their answer they cited Cynthia Olsen in her book First Aid Handbook – 101 Plus ways to use Tee Tree Oil who recommend this produce for ear infections. (Note that I do not know Ms Olsen and that I have not read her book.)
    • Ms Olsen suggest mixing pure Tee Tree Oil with olive oil before putting it in the ear. However I did not want to use oil because I did not want to use a produce that would make the hair oily (See the part: How I tried to solve this problem until spring of 2002.)
    • Since I was afraid that the use of pure Tee Tree Oil would cause irritation in the ears, I chose a Water soluble solution with 15% Tee Tree Oil with lavender:
    • Being water-soluble this lotion can be mix with the liquid that I use regularly to clean Fanny’s ears. This liquid does not make the hairs oily.
    • With lavender, this lotion has a very pleasant odour.
    • This solution is offered in two size: 10ml (about 6.75$ Canadians) and 50ml (about 13.45$ Canadians). So it was possible to try it at minimum cost.

    How I used it:
    • In a small dark glass bottle,
    • I put about 1/3 (1 volume) of tee Tree Oil,
    • For 2/3 (2 volumes) of cleaning liquid (Bought from the veterinary).

    The result is a lightly milky liquid. It is important to use a dark glass bottle to protect the mix from the light. Jonathan Margolis in his article mentioned that Tee Tree Oil can lose it’s efficacy if it is not sold in dark glass containers, kept out of light’s way in the house and rapidly used once open.

    • Since what I wanted was a preventive effect and that one of Fanny’s ear infections trigger is the vaccines she receive each spring, I started the application of the mix about two weeks before she received those vaccines, in the beginning of April 2002.
    • I applied the mix every two days.
    • I applied the content of about one dropper in each ear.
    • Since swimming is another trigger, I applied the mix every evening of the days where Fanny went swimming.
    • In August, we spent two weeks at the lake and during this period she swam every day. I cheeked her ears every day and, when I saw some redness, I applied the mix twice a day.
    • Back from those vacations, for one or two weeks, I had to continue the twice a day application.
    • At this time (October 2002), I am back to an application every two days.
    • Note that I have tried to use the Tee Tree Oil lotion by itself. The result was not as satisfactory. The mix of the Tee Tree Oil with the cleaning liquid is better because the ears stay cleaner.
    • On the other hand the cleaning liquid alone does not prevent ear infections in Fanny. I have tried it before with no success.

    • The ear hairs do not become oily or dirty.
    • I am completely satisfied and look forward to do the same process next spring.

    Since next spring, I will continue to clean Fanny’s ears with the cleaning liquid only. I do not remember that she ever had an ear infection in wintertime. Because I want the Tee Tree Oil to keep it’s potency, I will keep it in reserve and use it only if I see some signs of infection.

    I am a dog owner only. I have no formation in veterinary medicine or in any other allied sciences. I have tried the 15% Tee Tree Oil water-soluble solution with lavender and it worked on my dog the way I have described in this text. I did not observed any negative secondary effect on my dog. This is not a guaranty that this produce will function for other dogs with the same problem. Also, this is not a guaranty that this produce could not be detrimental.

    I am very happy to have found this way to prevent ear infections in my dog and I am please to share it with you. However, if you decide to try this produce yourself, It will be at your own risks. I decline all responsibility.

    I have no financial or other interest in this produce or in the companies mentioned here.

    I want to thank my sister in law Frances who corrected the English translation of this text.

    Fanny passed away January 2010 at 14 years old. From 2002 to 2010, no more ears yeast infections with the use of this process! I now have a 5 month old Portuguese water dog: Zoé. If ever she develop this problem, I will certainly try this product.

    Louise NOËL

  • Lynne

    Am new to your site but like it very much. I have a 12 year old cockapoo with Cushing’s. She is doing well. I feed her Instinct’s frozen raw rabbit but will try the chicken also. Thanks for all the great info

  • Jonathan

    okay… the store I work at carries Sience Diet, Blue buffalo, Wellness, Nutro, Earthborn, Pro-pac, and Royal Canin. Only one of these brands is “not recomended” by you… and myself for that matter. But it’s also the ONLY one out of that group of foods that says “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Hill’s Science Diet provides complete and balanced nutrition” on that bag. So what foods that are 4 or 5 star brands… even 3 star… are there that aren’t “just” formulas? And what does that really mean anyways? Science Diet is garbage. One look at the ingredients tells you that. but they have a multi-million dollar facility where they have dogs eating their food from birth to death and “prove” that their food is “great”. What gives? Is it all a gimmicky facade? They also feed other dogs, from birth to death, their competition’s foods. I wonder if they would admit if these dogs do better than theirs…

  • Hi Cindy… Kirkland’s adult formulas should be fine for your large breeds. They’re made for Kirkland by Diamond Pet (they also make others like Taste of the Wild, etc.). However, if you’re concerned, there are a number of 4 and 5-star dedicated large breed products on our website.

    By the way, our dog Bailey is a finicky eater, too. He never seems to like a kibble by itself. So, we top each meal of with a nice quality canned food and mix them thoroughly. He gobbles it up. Give it a try with your two Mastiffs. Hope this helps.

  • Cindy

    Hi Mike,
    I use to use the Kirkland dog food and my dogs seemed to love it.. I now have two beautiful English Mastiffs and I am so confused on good brands.. They are a year old last month and I have done Eagle pack for large breeds and Chicken soup (they hate) and Kahoots chicken meal and rice and really the dont seem to like any of those any more unless I fix it up with broths or burger.. I am wondering for the large breeds if the Kirkland has enough of what they need in it.. And where is it made?
    Thnx for your time 🙂

  • Carla


    I just wanted to say “Thanks”!! Your website is full of information and was a huge influence on the type of dog food I now buy!

    Thanks again so much!!

  • Hi Carla… My best advice: Don’t worry about finding the “perfect” dog food… because it doesn’t exist. Simply avoid the one and two-star products. You’ll already be a good way toward making a quality selection. By the way, although we don’t track prices, I can assure you there are a number of 3, 4 and 5-star dog foods that should fit your budget.

  • Carla

    Hi there! I am completely overwhelmed trying to decide which food is the best for my 8mo old lab mix and my 3 yr old puggle. I believe both have allergies and shed pretty bad. I currently feed them Beneful which I know is not good at all! I would love to put them both on the same food but not sure that is the best option. I would love to find something that is very affordable as well as good for them. Any suggestions would be wonderful!!

  • Hi Diane… Blue Buffalo Wilderness appears to be an excellent grain-free product. Small dogs need small kibble. Have never seen the size of the Wilderness kibble. Be sure to introduce any new food very gradually to prevent tummy problems. Good luck.

  • diane yule

    Yes. it does. I was reading that “Dangerous Canine Diseases Linked to Grains in Dog Foods“.
    Very interesting reading. i am glad you wrote an article about it. I think i might help out a lot. i have been thinking of going grainless. Do you think blue buffalo willderness duck is ok for small dogs? my dogs are from 5 pds to 12 pds. they are all over two years of age. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this website. i think it will help people alot in making better choices for the dogs.

  • Hi Diane… It’s not likely that QUALITY grains cause yeast infections. But some believe low-quality cereal grains can harbor certain types of contamination that can cause a condition known as atopic dermatitis. For more information, please read my article, “Dangerous Canine Diseases Linked to Grains in Dog Foods“.

    If you agree with the general premise of that article, you may want to consider using a 4 or 5-star dog food (they usually contain better quality grains). Or better yet, try a grain-free dog food. Hope this helps.

  • diane yule

    Hi, I have a toy fox terrier that gets yeast infections in her ears all the time. I have been dealing with this for almost 3 years. she also gets the red tear stains, and her coat is patchey. I think it might be hives, but not sure. she has been to the vet many times, and i always get different answers. I have read so much on the internet that i am confused. i have done home cooking, and that is not working either. I have read that grains cause yeast problems in dogs. what is your opinon on that? Is there any dog food that would help with yeast? thank you.

  • Hi Daisy… You are surely to be commended for taking such good care of your dog. As you can tell by our ratings, I’m not a big fan of most Purina products. There are almost certainly better quality foods out there (and at lower prices) than the one prescribed by your vet.

    However, since I’m not a veterinarian, I’m unable to recommend a particular product for your pet’s specific health condition. I wish I could be more help.

  • My dog is insulin dependent and takes thyroid pills. I get
    Purina DCO from the vet but it has some ingredients that are questionable. It’s also $23.00 for 8 lbs. i was wondering if there is a better dog food for her. The ingredient Menadione is one I was worried about. Not sure about the others. I mix this with white boiled chicken. I feed her every 12 hours and she gets 100MCG Levothyroxin each time. I give her 9 units insulin AM and 8 units PM of Novolin N. I don’t see any Purina brands on the 5 star food list so I was wondering what your thoughts are. Thanks. Daisy Newcomb

  • Hi Carol… Since I’m not a veterinarian, I have not been professionally trained in the treatment of kidney disease.

    However, it’s important to be aware of the controversy regarding the use of low protein diets in treating these disorders. Recent research appears to negate some of those older concepts.

    You may find the white paper published by Champion Petfoods helpful in solving the problem you describe. After all, that sweet dog does need to eat. Hope this helps.

  • Carol Scafuro

    I have recently suubscribed to your Dog Food Advisory and find it extremely valuable. I am trying to help a friend find a better alternative dog food for her 13 year old yellow lab with renal problems. The vet has recommended Hill’s Prescription R/N and her dog turns her nose up…the food has a terrible odor. This older gal certainly deserves to be looking forward to her meals at this stage of her life…I understand you are too busy to make recommendations but perhaps you could steer us in the right direction? Thank you fo rthe service you provide.

  • Hi Laura… Thanks to your suggestion I’ve added Barf World raw dog food to my list of upcoming reviews. However, it could be a little while before I get to that product line. But do look for a report in the not too distant future.

  • Laura

    I know you have an ever growing “to do” list but I would like to know how you would rate Barf World’s raw food line. I have been happy with it so far (except the price). This is the first raw food I have changed to from an organic “kibble”. My 3 year old English Bulldog is doing better on allergies and being slightly overweight but I would like more progress on his weight and digestion. He throws up a good bit, intermittently though. More of an “emotional puker” if you can get that! For a few days no throwing up then for two or three days he throws up four or five times. It’s not always food though. Sometimes it’s just liquid… “Oh, Daddy is playing with another dog.” , or “Someone told me no!” and PUKE!!
    Hahaha anyways, with the throwing up I need a balance between the best I can get in him and inexpensive in case he throws it all up.

  • Hi Garrett… look through our 4 and 5-star dog foods. Or click on our “Tag Cloud” found near the top of each page. Then click on the tag labeled “Active”. This will give you a list of brands (product lines)… each containing at least one dog food designed for active or working dogs. In the future (as we complete our “first pass” of all the dog foods we intend to publish a number of “best of” lists for such things as “active or working dogs”… probably later on this calendar year. Hope this helps.

  • Garrett

    So I have a very active and hard working Lab/German Shorthair mix and am looking for the best food for him… any ideas? Guidance?

  • HI Chris… thanks to your suggestion I’ve added Vet’s Choice to my “To Do” list for a future review.

  • Christine Giantsos

    Can you please evaluate the following food for me? “Holistic Health Extension” by Vets Choice. My dog absolutely loves it. He now looks forward to his dinner. whereas previously could take it or leave it. Believe me I have tried several of the 4 star and 5 star products you have on your list but he doesn’t like them. If it is pertinent he is a 9 year old Jack Russell in very good health. Thank you Chris

  • Heidi… the Nutritional Adequacy Statement only suggests the product meets minimum industry standards for nutrient content (vitamins, minerals, etc). It does not guarantee ingredient quality. To see what I mean, be sure to read some of my earlier posts about the danger of cheap grains and the toxicity of artificial preservatives.

  • Heidi Junger

    If nutritionally balanced pet foods were as great as we expect them to be, why are pets fed these diets sicker than ever before? Something doesn’t match our expectations.