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About Our Best Dog Foods Lists

The following topics represent some of our most frequently asked questions about The Dog Food Advisor’s Best Dog Foods lists.

Mike Sagman

By Mike Sagman

Updated: March 7, 2024

Puppy with Questions About Best Dog Foods

How do you select brands for your Best Dog Foods lists?

Our star ratings are based solely on the content of a dog food label. Yet, there’s a lot more to know about a dog food than what’s printed on the label.

For example…

Many dog foods with high label ratings are made by companies who never test their products for nutrient content, disease-causing bacteria (like Salmonella) or deadly mold toxins.


To be eligible for inclusion on one of our “best” lists, a dog food must not only be rated 3, 4 or 5 stars…

It must also meet other important criteria as detailed in our article, An Insider’s Guide to Finding Superior Dog Food Brands.

In addition…

We also favor brands and recipes with:

  1. Widest retail availability (preferably by online ordering)
  2. Greatest popularity as measured by the number of user reviews at Chewy, Amazon and other high traffic retailers
  3. Highest re-order rates
  4. Highest search interest
  5. Positive user reviews

And we avoid brands with:

  1. Multiple recalls over a limited period (repeat offenders)
  2. A recent history of FDA Warning Letters
  3. And poor customer support

We also try to ask each company:

  • Who makes your dog food (so we can track its recall history)?
  • Who designs your products? What qualifies them to do so?
  • Do you test your dog food for mold toxins and pathogens (disease-causing bacteria)?
  • Where do you source your ingredients? Do you import any of your animal protein from countries known for inferior food quality standards?

We realize most people don’t have the time or the patience to do all that important research work… which is why we created our Best Dog Foods lists, in the first place.

How do you select your Best Dog Foods for Specific Breeds?

Keep in mind…

AAFCO does not publish official nutrient guidelines for specific breeds.

However, many dog food formulas have been nutritionally optimized (in many cases by a board certified veterinary nutritionist for specific stages of life, breed size or certain health conditions.

These special designs include recipes for puppies, pregnant or lactating females, adults, seniors, weight management, allergies, all life stages, limited ingredients, and more.

There are also recipes designed to lower the risk of certain skeletal conditions like canine hip dysplasia (for large breed puppies).

We also consider the size classification of each breed.

In addition, we collect product recommendations shared by actual owners on breed-specific dog forums.

We also consult each recipe’s AAFCO “Statement of Nutritional Adequacy”… a government regulated statement that provides definitive guidance regarding the product’s stage of life and breed size recommendations.

Our research team also gathers customer review data from popular online retailers.

How many brands are included on your Best Dog Foods lists?

We have no plans to limit the number of “best dog foods” to a specific number.

However, please keep in mind, the value you get as a reader comes just as much (maybe even more) from the brands you DON’T find on our recommended lists than from those you do.

How often do you update your “best dog foods” pages?

Although we do our best to keep all our information current and up-to-date, it’s impossible for us to keep all our content accurate on a daily basis.

Since pet food companies rarely let us (or anyone else) know when they make changes, we must also rely on tips we get from readers.

In any case, it is our goal to update all our “best dog foods” content on a revolving 90-day cycle.

How often do you add or remove dog food brands from your “best dog foods” lists?

In most cases, our lists of “best” dog foods should remain mostly stable with only occasional additions or subtractions (as needed).

However, readers should expect to see some changes to our lists as new information is discovered or evolving events are brought to our attention.

Do you test the dog foods reviewed on your website?

No, unfortunately, we do not have the financial or human resources needed to test the thousands of recipes reviewed on The Dog Food Advisor website.

Are your recommended “best” dog foods ever recalled?

Yes, of course. Recalls are entirely unpredictable. So, any pet or human food can always be recalled at any time. And that includes our “best” brands, too.

Do you send out special recall alerts for your “best dog foods”?

The best way to protect your dog from becoming a victim of the next recall is to be aware of such an event as quickly as possible. That way, you can take defensive action.

To prevent spam and the duplication of emails, we maintain just one active notification list for everyone.

To get an immediate email alert sent to your inbox as soon as we become aware of any recall event in the U.S.A. or Canada, simply join our free dog food recall alert notification system.

Why do you include brands on your “best dog foods” lists that have been previously recalled?

Pet (and human) food recalls should be considered a normal part of any properly functioning food distribution system.

Food recalls typically involve only a limited number of product runs and batches. So, just because a specific recipe has been recalled does not mean the entire brand is defective.

Unless they become a habit, individual manufacturing accidents should not be interpreted as a sign of an inferior producer.

After all, even the very best companies occasionally experience a recall.

So, a history of previous recalls does not by itself prevent any otherwise good pet food company from being included on one of our “best dog foods” pages.

Why isn’t my favorite brand on one of your best dog foods pages?

There are many reasons a particular brand may not be included on our lists.

For example, a company may not have met all our guidelines. Or its agents may have been unwilling to reveal important manufacturing information.

In some cases, we may be aware of unfavorable information about a company. Or we may have received tips from industry insiders that disqualify certain brands from inclusion on our lists.

And finally, we may simply be unfamiliar with a particular brand. So, feel free to suggest a dog food you believe we’ve overlooked.

Why was a brand removed from one of your Best Dog Foods lists?

To keep the list short enough to be useful to our readers, we may sometimes be compelled to remove one good brand to make room for another more deserving one.

So, deleting a company from the list should not be interpreted as the discovery of some new or crucially important flaw.

Choosing brands for our “Best Dog Foods” lists is based on as many facts as we can put together. And we’re perfectly willing to disclose those facts when appropriate.

However, it can also be based on subjective opinion, insider tips, hunches and everything else we might privately know at any point in time.

And sharing these notions publicly without proof would be irresponsible and unfair to the companies… and misleading to readers.

For legal and ethical reasons, we will never knowingly publish any unprovable (non-factual) opinion about any company anywhere on this website just to appease a reader’s curiosity or expectations for an explanation.

To ensure our ability to add or remove brands from one of our Best Dog Foods lists without concern for legal liability, we must reserve the right to keep much of the rationale we use to make these decisions private.

Can you help me choose a dog food?

Unfortunately, due to the biological uniqueness of each animal and because we are not veterinary professionals, we cannot provide specific health advice or customized product recommendations.

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