Dr. Karen Becker: The Best and Worst Types of Dog Foods


For more help, watch Dr. Becker’s video and learn How to Choose a Good Dog Food.

  • Veronika

    I’d love to be travelling with them they are my type of people, people who are trying their hardest for change to happen, maybe one day even if it’s not them but someone else I can wish I guess.

  • Susan

    Hi yes go on her face book page https://www.facebook.com/dr.karenbecker, send her a msg on her f/b page… Karen Becker is bringing out another book pretty soon, she’s always with “Rodney Habib” they are traveling at the moment..

  • InkedMarie

    Try her facebook page and remove your phone number here!

  • MarJanita LaRosa

    new subject could someone help me get in contact with Karen I was told she has a ration balance program for vets to purchase to make dog food recipes we are a cold pressed dog food manufacturer trying to improve are dog food and like what we hear from her and would like to purchase the program if it is available feel free to call 717 823 3412 with any info thank you Vernon

  • Alafair Rey

    Shannon, she is not recomenmening them she is just giving best to worst

  • Laura Bilger

    raw diet. recipe on catinfo.org or buy Dr Karen Becker’s pet recipe book

  • Crazy4cats

    First of all, thank you so much for the work that you and the Stray Haven Rescue do. I hope that some day I will be able to volunteer at something similar if I ever get to retire. (Ugg) I don’t totally agree with everything in your article when it comes to prescription food or byproducts. Even Lisa Pierson, DVM, who is mentioned in the article recommends using prescription food for urinary stones in certain situations and is OK with feeding canned food with byproducts. But, like you mention, moisture in their diets is of the upmost importance! Best wishes to you, your furries and the Rescue!

  • Shannon Hohlt Latzke

    The article itself does not specifically address struvite formation in cats, but the links it contains to recommended foods does discuss more specifics regarding ingredients and mineral content, including the need for cats to have foods that are ≤ 0.10% magnesium and ≤ 1.2% phosphorous on a dry matter basis for kidney and bladder health (as well as foods that are ≤ 10% carbs on an ME basis for diabetes, etc.)

    I’m the “nutrition nazi” (and general research nazi) in my local rescue community, so people come to me all the time for nutritional advice regarding conditions such as urinary issues, diabetes, IBD, hyperthyroidism, CKD, as well as FIV/FeLV testing procedures, etc.

    The article is on this site. If you scroll to the bottom, there is a downloadable PDF version that includes my list of works consulted:


  • Crazy4cats

    Scarey stuff, isn’t it? I believe there could be away around feeding the prescription food. I slowly weaned my cat off of it and is now only about 1/4 of his diet. But…I have spent a lot of time and money researching what to feed him. If someone is not willing to do that, prescription is the way to go! Emergency visits and PU surgery is EXTREMELY expensive, stressful and not always successful! I think it is dangerous just to tell pet owners (especially of male cats) that they don’t need to feed prescription without giving more info. I’d like to read your artice if you let me know how to purchase it.

  • Shannon Hohlt Latzke

    I’ve had a couple of fosters get blocked. One even had to have PU surgery TWICE.

    I’ve written an article on feline nutrition that we publish on our website and give to adopters. It’s original incarnation was published in a local pet magazine.

  • Crazy4cats

    But the average pet owner may not know or how to choose food that is low in mag/phos or probably even willing to research it. The prescription food could be an easier way for them to keep the crystals away for their cats that are prone to them. Unfortunately, I know what can happen if they aren’t controlled and they cause a blockage.

  • Shannon Hohlt Latzke

    I have almost two decades of experience with cats prone to struvite crystals. My personal cats have never required a prescription food for this. I feed them a low mag/phos diet, and they don’t get crystals. I have, on occasion, used canned a/d short term only because its consistency is such that I can syringe it for animals needed force feeding or tube feeding, but I switch them the moment they’re eating on their own because it’s such a crappy product.

  • Shannon Hohlt Latzke

    Nope, not helpful. But thanks.

  • Susan

    Hi Shannon, maybe Karen Becker has realized a lot of people follow & believe in what she say’s, sometimes a vet diet is needed for short period of time till vet & owner works out what to do & what is happening health wise… I’ve had to use vet diets for IBD (pooing blood) & to dissolves Struvite Crystals, (weeing blood), it only took 6 weeks on the Royal Canin S/O Urinary to dissolve my rescued dog struvite crystals, then he went back to eating a normal diet….

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  • Shannon Hohlt Latzke

    NO PRESCRIPTION FOODS! I’m surprised to see Dr. Becker include veterinary diets in her list at all since she has published articles against these types of foods.

  • Jamie Schwartz

    Dogs are carnivores. Just look at them, it’s quite obvious. I’m not sure why people say they are omnivores – for one they don’t even have large flat molars. Then when you look at the rest of their digestive tract that’s just more proof. They are carnivores. That’s it.

  • Think about it

    “Product of USA” does not mean all ingredients originated in the USA…at all! Almost all pet food has at least one component originating from another country.
    “Produced with the same ingredients as used in products for humans” does NOT mean it is a “human-grade product” OR that the “ingredients included in the ingredient panel are approved for human consumption”. Many pet food manufacturers get their products from USDA human food processing plants, yet upon leaving the human food plant, they are immediately deemed “unfit for human consumption”. Not because they are unhealthy, but because they leave the jurisdiction of the USDA.

  • tapestry10

    For those of you who have mentioned Thailand as a source of pet food, a recent expose in The New York Times of “Sea Slaves” revealed that slave labor, held captive on slave ships, processes the food: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/27/world/outlaw-ocean-thailand-fishing-sea-slaves-pets.html

  • tapestry10
  • tapestry10

    Thank you for your advice. Very valuable. I appreciate it.

  • John Quackenbush

    Oh sorry it is cronometer.com the spell checker though I meant something else.This website is great in that you weigh every ingredient and then enter it in and it tells you all of the nutrients including the amino acids. Then you use this PDF to guide you on where each nutrient needs to be. http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/banr/miscellaneous/dog_nutrition_final_fix.pdf.

  • DogFoodie

    Your post doesn’t strike me as the usual spam. Is the web address you posted the one you meant to post?

  • John Quackenbush

    Dr Becker is pretty much my hero! A digital scale can be purchased on Amazon for $15.00. There is a white paper which lists the nutritional requirement of dogs and cats called “Nutritional Requirements for Dogs and Cats” from the National Research Council and although Chronometer is set up for Humans, if you are feeding human grade food, it will also work for pets. Just use the recommended Daily Allowances for your pet at the appropriate weight and activity level. If you fell this is too much then purchase Dr Becker’s book and don’t try this on your own. Actually you need to have a basic understanding of the nutrients if you are going to go without a recipe book anyway. If you willing to learn about the nutrients and do a little reading you will be good. I am a fan of variety and I like to go with what is in season and what I am eating. I don’t analyze every meal, but I do substitutions which I know will not throw things out of wack. For example, I may substitute mango for apple and I don’t check to see if it remains balanced because I have done this before without much change to the nutrient content. I know that if I run out of multivitamins for a particular batch and need to supplement with nutritious yeast, I need to be careful with phosphorous. Actually I stopped the nutritious yeast altogether for this exact reason. Also many foods you would add seem to have a huge impact of throwing things out of wack (i.e meat, liver, cottage cheese, nutritious yeast, fish, eggs), while other foods it seems you can not go wrong by adding too much (e.g. spinach, carrots, broccoli). It is a challenge, but fun… and I assure you the dog appreciates the effort!

  • John Quackenbush

    Dr Becker is the best! I use Chronometer.com, a digital scale and the Daily requirements for dogs to come up with the recipes. I find that I have to supplement calcium and vitamin E to make things balanced. I also add a half of a multivitamin (human grade). All food gets ground up in a food processor. The meat is either Steak or Ground turkey with 30 g of beef liver. Ground flax seed is a must and I add a little Mackerel from the can to addd flavor. My doggie is 13 yrs old and 33 lbs sheltie. He eats every last drop and even looks for more. Calories are at 700 total for the day. It is a little on the high side for proteins (but the amino acids are spot on) and lower for fat and carbs. I bumped up the carbs by adding brown rice, which he loves too. I am careful to keep an eye on phosphorous. I was giving a little cottage cheese each meal, but this with the liver and Mackerel made the phosphorous too high. It is amazing to see what you need to do to achieve a balanced diet and as Dr Becker says. Guessing is the worst thing you can do. How could a little mackerel,cottage cheese and liver through the diet out of balance, but it can!. A digital scale is a must and I recommend Chronometer.com to analyze the diet. I add fruits and veggies and a lot of them (frozen blueberries, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, carrot etc).

  • Jeremy
  • Roger Prows

    Almost all fish based canned foods will be based in Thailand or other similar island countries because they need to be canned extremely fresh in order to avoid potentially dangerous preservatives.

  • Germaine Clemente

    I watched Dr Beckers best dog foods and she always says buy made in the USA but the can of Jammin Salmon she was holding is by Weruva and that’s made in Thailand.Finding that strange

  • Paw Paws

    I brought the ingredients list to my vet yesterday with the puppy for her first appointment since we adopted her 4 days ago and to set up her spay, microchip and next set of shots and asked his opinion on this food, he said it was a very well balanced food for dogs of all life stages, problem solved.

  • Pattyvaughn

    For a puppy, you need to get one of the formulas that is for All Life Stages or Growth, but you can put your older dog on it too. Look on the bag of the specific formula that you have to see what it’s life stage recommendation is.

  • Paw Paws

    this puppy is a medium size breed, the elder is 113lb so large/giant he has been on this food since he was 1 year old he is now 16 and doing great for a dog his age not blind, not deaf no hip problems, nothing, I just don’t want to mess with a good thing, and it depends where you look, some places say its a food for all stages of life other just say adult, no size specification and the amount of of fat/protein and carbs is about the same for all. recipes of this brand.


  • Pattyvaughn

    The ingredients may be the same, but the proportions different. If it is a large breed puppy, it has special needs as far as specific amounts of calcium, too much is as bad as too little. Go over to the forum and look under diet and health for the thread on Large and Giant Breed Puppy Nutrition and read the first few pages to learn about the issues when feeding large breed puppies. Here is Hound Dog Mom’s latest list of foods that have the proper amount of calcium.

  • Paw Paws

    I used to make our dogs food from a recipe given to me by our holistic vet. cooked ground turkey breast was the main ingredient. This was decided for 2 reasons, one dog was allergic to chicken and the other was older and not too active any more. he explained the deference between cooling/neutral and warming foods as well at the time. anyway this was wonderful while it lasted at the time we had one small dog (20 lb) and one med dog (45 lb) it was a lot of cooking but i would bake the recipe in a meatloaf pan usually 10 at a time and freeze them, the one thing I have to say your wrong about is that this is the least expensive way to go, since dogs eat as much as 3-4 times more food than if they were eating a bagged dry dog food. it’s been a long times since we did this so I don’t remember the whole ingredients list but I know it cost about $200 a month to make. anyway moving on. these dogs are now long gone, lived 15years aprox ea. now I am in a position where I have a 115 lb dog and a puppy. we are feeding the adult dog,( actually elder now)

    “Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food”.

    I cant afford nor do I have the time to make food for a dog that size.

    ,” I have compared the ingredients on the adult formula we feed now, to the puppy formula and the only difference I see is dried egg, can I feed the puppy the same food as the elder and add egg to it to supplement her calcium intake?”

    ( I have found no difference in the adult and senior food so never switched to the senior it’s more expensive as is the puppy formula and I feel its a money making scheme to tag the food for different age stages)

    he just gets less of it now than he did when he was younger as he is not as active as he was.

    If I perchance get a response I would be very grateful, TY.

  • Squaremom

    Royal canine has no vitamins! Check the label.

  • Vivian Maggard Baker

    Wow I use to come to this site for advice but now it has been degraded to a cat fight….Anyone coming here for the first time for feeding help would be so confused and would walk away shaking their head…Now everyone knows more than Dr. Becker….Making feeding animals that you love so complicated that no one can understand it does nothing to help ordinary people (not scientists)….Maybe you all should bet back to basics…

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  • Pattyvaughn

    You’re right, you hesitated for 4 months. You probably could have hesitated for a while more. A lot of people who come here do not speak English as their primary language, so if you look at that post from that point of view, you might come to the realization that she did a amazing job of expressing herself.

  • Jo. Unrau

    Bailey loves veggies but doesn’t get corn very often. I give him carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, pretty much all veggies, cooked & raw. His Vet. says he’s in excellent health & people who see him romping in the park are surprised to hear he’s 7 yrs. old. They always think he’s much younger.

  • Jo. Unrau

    My dog loves veggies, mixed or separate & he likes lettuce. We have veggies most days & I always give him a little as long as there’s nothing in that can hurt him. Spices, onions, etc.

  • Jo. Unrau

    I’m hesitant to mention this, but if you could spell people might take you more seriously.

  • Doris Wohl

    Royal canine is best for chi’s

  • Shin

    Susan, InkedMarie & Hound Dog Mom are both correct.
    Cripes, you picked the bottom-of-the-barrel worst brands to feed your chi.

    He wants the cat food because cat food has higher protein than dog food, & the brands you chose are nutritionally void, so his body is craving real nutrition, but cat food is not safe for dogs to eat all the time. There is a reason why dog & cat food formulas are different. Dogs & cats have different nutritional requirements.

    It really is you get what you pay for.
    Think about why the brands you chose are so inexpensive. It’s filled with chemicals & preservatives.

    Read this

    Read this about Beneful

    The pennies you are trying to save now WILL cost you in vet bills later when he develops cancer because of the food you’ve chosen.

    I have a chi. Sheesh, they eat so little that it’s worth it to buy at least a mid-range quality brand & just cut out one less movie for you per month or one less dinner out per month.

    Please go here & choose a better brand for your chi, & please give him a hug & a kiss for me

    & don’t forget to transition to any new food slowly over several days (not suddenly) or he will get diarrhea. Here’s how

  • Jess Rios

    Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores. It is kind of sad to tell other people to educate themselves when you, yourself, are spouting uneducated nonsense.

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  • Shawna

    That’s actually kinda nonsense.. Adding water, or another liquid, before feeding (either right before or storing in the fridge) won’t increase the pathogen content of the food as Patty stated.

    Additionally, hydrochloric acid is dependant on water consumption with the food. Hydrochloric acid is important for at least two reasons.
    1. The acidic environment kills many pathogens that may be contaminating the food. Too little HCL and pathogens are more likely to survive and potentially cause issues.
    2. HCL activates the enzyme pepsin in the stomach which digests protein. Too little HCL leads to protein maldigestion. And protein maldigestion can weaken the immune system making it even harder to fight off a food contaminant.

  • Pattyvaughn

    The same ones that believe that dogs fed a dry diet never have teeth problems. Sheesh!

  • butchroy

    I cannot believe Marie Brancaccio said not to mix dry food with water, canned food, etc, is that crazy? That is what we do, it is how those who cannot afford alot try to give the best they can, who are these experts that warn this?

  • Pattyvaughn

    You would have to wet it and then let it sit in an environment that encourages growth of bacteria for some time before wetting dry food could possible become a problem.

  • InkedMarie

    You have a smart dog, he’s refusing to eat bad foods. I’d try canned, if I was you. More palatable than dry, IMO

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I’m not advocating the use of corn in dog food – I agree it’s a low quality ingredient that’s not species appropriate – however, not for the reasons you stated.

    You state the corn often causes allergies and is poorly digested. More dogs have allergies to beef, chicken and eggs than to corn [Jeffers JG. Results of dietary provocation in dogs with food hypersensitivity]. Highly processed corn (such as what is typically found in dog food) is actually very digestible – probably the most digestible grain. Corn gluten meal actually has a higher digestibility (87.5%) than either fresh beef (76.3%) or fresh poultry (77.3%) [Hand MS, Thatcher CD, Remillard RL, et al, eds. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition].

    The reasons I think corn should be avoided:

    1. It’s high in phytic acid – an anti-nutrient impairs the body’s ability to absorb some essential vitamins and minerals.

    2. The majority of corn produced in the US is genetically modified. Genetically modified foods is lower in key nutrients than non-GMO foods, GMO corn has been found to contain toxic substances and the consumption of GMO foods has been linked to organ failure.

    3. Corn is highly susceptible to mycotoxin contamination.

    4. Corn is highly inflammatory (very high ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids).

    5. The type of lectins found in corn attach to fat cells and cause them to hypertophy.

    6. Corn isn’t a complete protein (it doesn’t provide all the essential amino acids) which implies to me that it’s not a species-appropriate source of protein for dogs.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Susan –

    All the foods you mentioned are extremely low quality foods – it’s no wonder your dog refuses to eat them! Try one of the 4 or 5 star foods on this site. The less processed the food and the higher the meat content, the better the food. For example, raw would be superior to fresh cooked, fresh cooked would be superior to canned, canned would be superior to kibble, etc. I’m not sure what your budget is, but I’m confident you can find a quality 4 or 5 star food that you can afford. Less processed foods like raw and canned are also more palatable, so if you do go with a dry food you may want to try mixing in a little raw, fresh cooked or canned food to entice him to eat. Green tripe is great for getting picking dogs to eat – it can be fed raw (ideal) or canned (Tripett makes a great canned version). Good luck with your pup!

  • Kibbled Foods where made because of convience and cost , it was never meant for health and nutrition altho their are better bagged foods now at days , Dogs are natural carnoviours and their bodies need protein to be healthy exspecially their vidal organs like their kidneys , dogs on kibbled foods live in a state of dehydration , their body requires 70% of moisure for their organs and kidneys to be healthy , Educate your self and practice preventive health and feed a natural protein diet and you’ll save tons of money on medical bills later on ….