Bringing a dog of any age into your life can be one of the most exciting events for anyone.
Dogs can bring so much joy and fun to a home, but they are also a big responsibility, whether they are a puppy, and adult dog, a senior dog or anywhere in between.
Once you get a dog, it is up to you to care for each of their needs and keep them healthy and happy, including treats, toys, medical needs and whatever else they may need.
Hi dog moms and dads! My name is Bri, and when I adopted my dog Bruce, I prepared my house for weeks making sure I had everything prepared.
I got the best dog bed, new toys, food bowls, you name it – I bought it!I was always taught to treat animals with love and care, especially when it comes to feeding them.
Since we as pet owners are solely responsible for feeding and caring for our pets, it is up to us to ensure they get the highest quality of care.
My fiancé calls me a crazy dog mom, but what is so wrong with making sure my big baby is spoiled?
Absolutely nothing! He gets his fill of treats and toys (and the occasional piece of bacon when dad makes breakfast).
However, one of the most important things I had to get for Bruce was the right food for him.
Buying the right dog food goes beyond just going to the store and buying the cheapest brand.
Different dogs need different foods depending on their age, breed, and different dietary restrictions.
I had no idea how hard it would be to find the right food for Bruce. He has really sensitive skin, so he gets a limited ingredient dog food that is all natural and does not include any preservatives or chemicals that could irritate his skin.
When we adopted him, he was experiencing a lot of issues with his skin and the shelter could not pinpoint the cause. He was being fed a cheap kibble brand that was not at all customized for his individual needs.
Once I got him home and figured out what those needs where I was able to find the right kind of dog food for him!
What Kinds of Dog Foods Are There?
There are plenty of different dog food options out there for your pooches, and different dogs benefit from different kinds.
The five most common types of dog food include kibble (dry food), canned food, semi-moist food, home cooked food and raw food.
Kibble: Kibble is the most common dry food option available and is also usually the cheapest option. It is simply dry food that normally comes in bags or boxes.
Canned food: Canned food is wet food that is popular with many dogs for its variety of yummy, meaty flavors.
Semi-moist food: Semi-moist food are commercial foods that are shaped like common meats such as steaks and burgers.
Home cooked food: Home cooked meals are just that – home cooked. The owner can choose whatever ingredients they would like to put into their dog’s food.
Raw food: Raw dog food is simply raw meat, bones and organs often mixed with raw vegetables.
Ups and Downs to Each Kind of Dog Food
All food types have their own benefits, as well as downsides.
One may have a benefit for one dog but have the opposite effect on another dog, and vice versa.
Dog parents should always talk to their vets to see which food type is best for their dog.
Let’s start with the most common type:
Dry food is by far the most common style of dog food (and the number one choice in my house).
There are literally thousands of different brands and flavors of kibble, some that are cheap and some that are expensive.
To be forward, you really get what you pay for with kibble and any type of dog food for that matter.
The cheaper brands typically have more preservatives, chemicals, and artificial ingredients that are not always the best thing for your pup.
It is important to research kibble brands to make sure the ingredients are healthy enough and the right things for your pup.
Better, more natural brands are usually going to cost more, but are much better for your dog with more natural and wholesome ingredients and less chemicals.
Canned food is in the same boat as kibble. Better ingredients might cost a little more, and cheaper brands tend to be less healthy.
However, their long shelf life and simple serving sizes makes them an easy choice for dog moms and dads.
Plus, dogs tend to love canned food due to the flavor and easy to eat contents.
Much like kibble, any pet owner should research the ingredients in canned food to ensure the best ingredients are being fed to their dog.
Semi-moist food is usually very cheap but are not typically good to be used as the sole source of food for a dog.
As a softer alternative to traditional kibble, they may be a benefit to older dogs or dogs with dental problems because they are easier to chew and digest.
They are also typically small, easy to store and have a long shelf life. However, these foods are not known to be healthy options.
Many of them contain high levels of sugar, salt, and artificial colors and preservatives.
Their small size and limited nutrients also do not allow for much nutrient absorption.
In other words, they tend to pass right through dogs without leaving anything useful behind, so in my opinion these are quite frankly a waste of money unless they are just an occasional treat.
Sure, it is easy for me to grab a Twinkie (or two) and enjoy the sweetness while I shove it in my mouth in one bite, but that does not mean it is necessarily healthy for me!
The same goes for dogs – the better the ingredients, the healthier it is for the pups!
These biscuits and other small packaged foods may be okay for a treat now and then but might not be the best option for a permanent food source.
Home Cooked Food
In today’s world, natural ingredients and homemade goods are growing in popularity for everyone, including pet parents.
With home cooked dog food, the owner controls each and every ingredient that goes into their pup’s belly.
Common ingredients are cooked meats like chicken, pork or beef mixed with a number of other ingredients like vegetables or rice.
Things like beef and chicken will be shredded or ground up to make it easier for a dog to consume.
While there is no distinct recipe that should be used, most will contain some sort of meat and vegetable.
Any recipe should be looked over by a veterinarian before being fed to your dog to make sure the meal is providing not only the right nutrients, but also enough of those nutrients to sustain your dog’s health.
This method can also be rather expensive and time consuming as well, which makes it a little less convenient for dog parents.
I hardly have the time to cook for myself let alone my dog, but I do love the idea of creating homemade, wholesome meals for my baby!
Raw food diets may sound a little scary, but they can actually have a ton of benefits for dogs.
These diets contain raw meat, bones, fruits and vegetables and are based on the diet dogs would have had before they became domesticated.
Raw foods have been known to help improve a dog’s coat, promote healthier skin, keep their teeth cleaner, increase their energy levels and improve their digestive health.
However, there are risks to feeding dogs a raw diet. Raw meat can contain bacteria that could be harmful to both the dog and the owner.
It is also possible that the raw bones could cause choking or splinter to harm the dog internally.
It is super important to consult your veterinarian before putting your dog on raw diet to make sure it is done the right way!
And, if your dog is anything like mine, they will look at the raw meat you are giving them and then back at you like “Uhh mom, why isn’t this cooked and where are the mashed potatoes and gravy!?”
Considerations When Deciding Your Top Dog Food
When picking the best dog food for your dog, try to think of it the same way as picking out food for yourself or your child.
You wouldn’t feed baby food to a 16-year-old, just as you wouldn’t feed a T-bone steak to a baby. If you have allergic reactions to a certain food, you simply don’t eat it.
The same goes for dogs. Some of the most common, yet most important considerations to make when choosing the right food include:
This one is obvious. Puppies, middle-aged dogs and senior dogs all have different needs when it comes to nutrition.
Puppies need the nutrients to help them grow into healthy adults.
You can check out the best dog food for your puppy, here!
They need more of the important fats, minerals and amino acids than an adult dog would.
Once puppies have grown into adult dogs, they should be switched to a food that maintains a nutritional level appropriate for adult dogs.
Then, once they become seniors like Bruce, food might need to be changed again to support joint health, vision and digestive health.
A dog’s breed is very important to consider when feeding them. Large dog breeds need a much different blend of nutrients in a diet and also consume a much larger amount of food.
Small dog breeds need their own particular set of nutrients and vitamins to support their smaller structures.
A Chihuahua and a Great Dane would obviously not eat the same type and amount of food, and each dog will more than likely have different nutritional requirements based on their size alone.
Different breeds have different style of coats, some long, some short, different genetic patterns and so many more different things to consider that can be supported by the right food.
For example, Bruce is a Pitbull breed mixed with American Bulldog (so yes, he is a big beefy meatball of a dog). Although he is a mixed breed, he still suffers from common problems known to both breeds.
Both American Bulldogs and Pitbulls are prone to joint problems and ear infections, as well as considerable skin sensitivity. Therefore, I had to find the right food to support what his breed needs.
This one is by far the most important thing to consider when feeding a dog.
As I have said before, Bruce has sensitive skin which we have found to be further irritated by ingredients like grains and gluten, but that’s an easy fix for us.
There are a number of different medical issues dogs can have that require a special diet, and this can sometimes make or break the health of a dog.
Some dogs have very severe allergies to certain foods or have digestive issues that might limit what they can eat.
Some dogs have such severe conditions that they may need home cooked meals, but luckily there are many companies that make specific dog foods to adhere to different medical conditions.
Many companies create grain free, limited ingredient, and specific ingredient foods that can help maintain a dog’s medical needs. This is crucial for Bruce’s diet to keep him healthy and happy.
This might sound silly, but it is important to consider what your dog does and does not like to eat! Bruce refuses to eat vegetables, but that’s about it so we don’t really have an issue feeding him different flavors of food.
However, some dogs are picky eaters and just will not eat certain options like sweet potatoes, salmon or duck.
I found that it helped us to buy the smallest bag of food we could find and mix it with what the shelter was feeding Bruce first just to see if he liked the new stuff.
Bruce has definitely turned down his fair share of food flavors, and sticks to meat flavors. For some reason pineapple is a huge hit with him, but since my baby can’t really live off of a tropical fruit diet, we stick to the meaty flavors like salmon for him!
Once we determined which kind of food he liked and which food was best for him, we were able to continue mixing it and adding more and more till that was all he ate!
Our Top 10 Dog Foods
Now that we know the different types and things to consider when buying new food for your fur baby, let’s take a look at the top 10 dog foods on the shelves right now.
1. “I and love and you” Naked Essentials Grain Free Dry Dog Food
As the first food on the list, I was surprised I had never heard of it. I’ve looked through so many different types of dog food to find the perfect one for my dog, and I probably would have tried this one if I had found it sooner.
Naked Essentials food is always grain free and doesn’t include any fillers or artificial preservatives. That can be hard to find in dog food!
This food is also formulated to encourage a healthy skin and coat and digestive system.
The very first ingredient on the list for this food is lamb. Just plain old lamb. With other ingredients like chickpeas, lentils, flaxseeds, and dried beet pulp, the natural ingredients prove themselves.
I love that this food uses natural ingredients to keep pups full, not artificial fillers. This one would definitely make the cut for my own dog, and I would never say that without knowing for sure that this food would be good for my boy!
The only downside I could find for this food is the price. With a long list of natural ingredients, the price is pretty steep for a 40-pound bag. But, if it’s your pup’s health it’s totally worth it (to me anyway)!
2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken
This chicken recipe is grain free, high in protein and includes a blend of vitamins and minerals that help to support immune health and overall health.
The first ingredient in this food is deboned chicken – yes please! With other wholesome ingredients like potatoes and peas, this food is a great healthy option for any pup.
This is a pretty affordable dog food too, for a 24-pound bag. The price is not bad for a natural and healthy dog food!
3. Blue Buffalo Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Salmon
The ingredients in this food include deboned salmon, peas, and other veggies like sweet potatoes and carrots.
While this food seems like the perfect alternative for a dog with sensitivity to chicken, the ingredients don’t exactly make me confident in the chicken free message.
The ingredients include chicken meal and chicken fat, both of which could be harmful to dogs who can’t tolerate diets with chicken in them.
However, chicken meal and fat don’t necessarily make this food dangerous for dogs who have food sensitivities. If it were me, I would definitely double check with my veterinarian before I started feeding it to my dog just to be extra safe.
Similar to other Blue Buffalo brands, this dog food is around the same price for a 24-pound bag. Again, it’s a reasonable price for the value of the product!
4. Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Dog Food Pacific Stream Adult – Salmon
I started feeding Bruce Taste of the Wild food about a year ago after we struggled to find a good food for his sensitive skin and this stuff takes the cake.
The ingredients list is full of natural ingredients, starting with salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes and peas.
Bruce is drooling at this very moment. He LOVES this stuff.
The amino acids and protein are perfect for building and maintaining strong, lean muscles.
I love this brand because the salmon and fish oil works wonders for his dry itchy skin, giving him the perfect balance of vitamins and nutrients to support a shiny coat and healthy skin.
Plus, all of these foods are made in the United States and are proven “hypoallergenic” – another big benefit for my pup’s sensitive skin.
This brand is also a little more expensive than others for a 30-pound bag, but it has been the best choice for my Bruce, so it is a no brainer for me!
I also love that this dog food is from a family owned and operated company! The family run business makes me think that the owners of this company really care about the quality of their product, which helps me know that my dog is getting the best food!
5. Pedigree Complete Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food Roasted Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Flavor
With ingredients that provide the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s a pretty solid choice for pups.
While the cheap prices may be appealing, you get what you pay for. I personally don’t like the ingredients list for this food, which includes ground whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, animal fat and chicken by-product meal.
The list goes on with other preservatives and artificial flavors that I personally wouldn’t feed Bruce.
However, there are many people who swear by this dog food and their dogs absolutely love it!
6. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Brown Rice
Just like the other recipes, Blue Buffalo is notorious for their healthy pet food, and this one is no exception!
With deboned chicken as the first ingredient, this good has great ingredients that I would feel good about feeding to Bruce.
This dog food is actually what my dad uses to feed his English Mastiff, and my dad is pickier about dog food than I am so it must be good!
Something to watch out for is what people have said about buying this dog food online. There are a number of complaints about something being “off” about the online-bought bags of food.
Dogs have turned down the same food that had been bought in the store and have even gotten sick after eating the food bought online.
While I don’t use this brand, I typically buy my dog food online, so this is something I really pay attention to!
However, Blue Buffalo has had a lot of success in providing high quality dog food that I myself have been a consumer of, so just make sure to do some extra research before you buy.
7. Purina One Smartblend Natural Formula Adult Dry Dog Food Lamb and Rice
This particular recipe is made to maintain healthy nutrients and joints.
The main concern I have with this dog food is in the ingredients. White turkey is the first ingredient, it goes on to list corn gluten meal and soy flour.
I actually started Bruce on this dog food when I first brought him home from the shelter because that is the food they had been feeding him for a long time.
While there was not anything particularly wrong with this food, it just did not fit his needs as well as I would have liked and my vet though he might benefit from a more specific diet, so we decided to switch.
No hard feelings Purina!
The ingredients in this food are more than likely fine and quite healthy for most dogs, but for Bruce the grains are a no go. The price for this food is pretty reasonable though which is great for pet parents!
8. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food, Real Chicken and Veggies Recipe
This recipe is great for pet owners looking for all-natural ingredients. Speaking of which, the first ingredient listed is beef. Not beef product, not beef flavor, but real beef.
It’s followed by beef meal, dried peas, soybean mean, whole ground corn, and other great veggies to give your pup a healthy diet.
This food is also less expensive for a 40-pound bag – that’s a doggone good deal!
The only complaint from real customers here is that the food has a but of a greasy texture to it and for some dogs, it passes right through them. Not necessarily harmful to the dog, but not exactly a benefit for dog parents!
9. Nature’s Recipe Adult Dog Food Dry, Lamb Meal and Rice Recipe
The first few ingredients listed are lamb meal, barley, oatmeal and ground rice. Those all sound like ingredients I would eat myself, so I would definitely feed them to my dog!
A couple downsides to this food are listed in the ingredients. There are quite a few ingredients that are used as preservatives that I don’t really like the sound of.
The more preservatives in the food, the less natural the food is.
10. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin Dog Food
This particular option is specifically made for dogs with food or skin sensitivities like dry and itchy skin.
The main ingredients include brewers rice, chicken meal and whole grain – all of which sound pretty good to me!
I really like that some of the ingredients also help to support a dog’s immune system which is especially important as dogs get older.
Much like other dog foods, this one does include a number of preservatives which, while they aren’t necessarily dangerous for a dog, they’re also not as natural as I prefer.
Plus, this tends to be one of the pricier brands for just a 30-pound bag.
Other Considerations to Make When Buying Dog Food
You might have noticed that I mentioned Bruce’s dog food being “hypoallergenic.”. This means that the food is more unlikely to cause some sort of allergic reaction for a dog.
Certain dogs can be allergic to different things, like grains or even certain types of meat. As crazy as it may sound, beef is actually one of the most common food allergies in dogs.
If you notice your dog is having weird skin or tummy issues, take a look at their food and talk to your vet about having some allergy tests done to see if the food is what could be causing the problem!
More than likely, it is best to feed any dog a limited ingredient dog food to avoid potential allergens in food.
Should I Switch Dog Foods?
If you think your dog may benefit from a better dog food, there is nothing wrong with making a change. It is always smart to talk to your dog’s veterinarian first but switching food can be done pretty easily.
However, if you are going to switch foods, it is extremely important for your dog’s health to make it a slow and steady process.
You should never just switch your dog’s food completely, but rather mix a small amount into their current food.
Add more and more every time you feed your dog till you are able to fully ween them off the old food and only feed them the new.
If you add too much of the new food, you could give your dog an upset stomach or make them really sick and nobody wants a sick pupper on their hands!
If you are trying to switch foods and are still having a little trouble, it helped me to warm up a little chicken broth and pour it over Bruce’s dry food.
This helped entice him initially, and then I would add less and less till he started eating the food by itself. Now he does not even hesitate to devour it!
The last thing that I think is really important to consider when buying a dog food is when and where it is made. Think about any large production facilities and the chemicals, dirt, bacteria, and endless other possibilities that could get into your dog’s food.
Since I live in the United States I typically prefer to buy dog food that is made in the United States. I also make sure I check the dog food for any signs of mold before I feed it to my dog.
When dog food is shipped, it is always possible that moisture, bugs, or other foreign objects can make its way into the food bags. I personally found metal shavings in a bag of food once (not from any of the brands listed).
While I was lucky to find the metal, I was hesitant in feeding my dog that same brand again. Even the smallest thing like that could have dangerous effects on Bruce and I would never take that risk!
So What Dog Food Should You Choose?
This is a tricky question because each dog is different. My dog may not have the same needs as other dogs.
For me, I am already using one of the foods listed above; the Taste of the Wild brand! Obviously I would recommend this dog food above the others because I have seen how great it is for my dog.
Bruce went through about three other dog food brands (some of which are even listed above) and none of them helped like Taste of the Wild does.
His skin is less irritated and flaky, his coat is shinier, thicker and softer than ever, and he absolutely LOVES the taste.
However, I think if I had to pick a different brand then the one I feed Bruce now, I would pick the first option on the list above – the Naked Essentials brand.
While this food is one of the more expensive on the list, I believe it is important to consider the value and quality of the product, not just the price.
Naked Essentials proves to have the best of both words and therefore would be an ideal choice for my dog.
Hopefully this helps you to decide what dog food is best for your fur baby!
Happy pup parenting!