The eight products we reviewed in this article are intended to appeal to dog owners who are interested in a “holistic” and/or “healthy” food for their dogs. None contains artificial colors or artificial preservatives. But none can hold a candle to the products on our “approved” foods list. Each misses that mark – some miss by just a bit, and some miss by a country mile.
How should you select the right dog food for your dog? Over the years, we've spoken to literally thousands of dog owners and industry experts and they have at least a few hundred different approaches to the task. We'll briefly discuss some of the most prevalent factors used by owners to support their dog food buying decisions and then we'll tell you how we recommend choosing your dogs' food.
Here is Whole Dog Journal's Approved Dry Dog Foods List for 2011. Along with the list of this year’s approved dry dog foods we’ll explain on what criteria you should use when selecting a food for your dog. Some of these criteria range from price, ingredients, a manufactures’ past history and the size of the manufacturer. All of the products that made the list have met our selection criteria – including our newest criterion, that the company discloses the name and location of its manufacturers.
Several of our eagle-eyed readers caught an error in dry dog food review in our February issue: “In the February 2010 issue, the picture of the approved dog foods includes Nutro Ultra but it is not listed in the article. Why the discrepancy?” “I see that Nutro Ultra is included in the photo on page 3; its caption says ‘these are just a few examples of premium quality foods.’ However, it’s not included on the ‘approved foods’ list. Can you clarify?” “I noticed that the Nutro Ultra Holistic food is in your picture, but I couldn’t find it in the actual list of approved foods. Is it one of the approved foods?”
Here is Whole Dog Journal's Approved Dry Dog Foods List for 2010. All these products meet our selection criteria - including our newest criterion, that the company discloses the name and location of its manufacturers. Today's dog owners have more and more choices of better-quality foods including many featuring organic or "wild" ingredients.
What's the best food for your dog? It's a question that only you can answer - because you are the only one who is in a position to gauge, on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis, how your dog responds to what you feed him. That said, we can give you some tips to guide you into the right section of your local pet supply store - that is, past the lowest-cost, lowest-quality foods; past the higher-cost but still low-quality posers; and into the area where the top-quality foods are found. Take note: They are expensive, perhaps prohibitively so, especially for families with several large dogs to feed. But you can't expect to pay hamburger prices for filet mignon, and it's the quality (and thus price) of the ingredients that set the top-quality foods apart. Dry food is not the healthiest diet for your dog. If you want to provide the very best, most natural diet possible for your dog, you'd feed a well-researched, home-prepared diet comprised of fresh foods. Or, next best, a well-formulated, commercially made frozen raw or dehydrated diet. Next best would be a top-quality wet food; even poor quality wet foods usually contain a higher percentage of animal protein (and a much lower percentage of grain) than good dry foods. Of all of these forms of dog food, kibble is probably the least natural for the dog. But its popularity is mainly based on three factors: It is relatively stable and therefore very convenient for the owner to buy, store, and feed. It's usually less expensive, calorie for calorie, than other forms of food with comparative ingredients. And most dogs do fine on a dry food diet.
Last month's issue contained our annual review of dry dog foods, but with an exception from our usual format: This year, we decided to break out grain-free dry dog foods from the increasingly populated and competitive pack of terrific kibbled products on the market. We did not review them in the February issue, but will discuss grain-free foods at length here. In 2005, Natura Pet Products was the first pet food company to manufacture and market a grain-free kibble, which was initially called Innova Evo (and is now called simply Evo). The success of the product, in the market and with many of the dogs fed the diet, sparked a proliferation of grain-free foods. We were able to find more than a dozen companies that currently offer one or more grain-free foods that meet our selection criteria.
This is absolutely not an excuse, but do us a favor and look at the incredible accumulation of minute facts about dog foods that appeared in the February issue and in this one; it may have been inevitable that we made a few small mistakes. We apologize for any inconvenience we have caused through the following errors and/or oversights.
the consumer wins. I've long appreciated companies that have educated personnel readily available and willing to communicate with consumers about their products. It's even better when the company has a veterinarian available who can discuss the company's products and a consumer's dog's digestion or other health problems in detail.
Not all that long ago, selecting a dry food for your dog was pretty simple. What brand (singular) did your local pet supply store carry? What size bag did you want? And would you like some help out with that, ma'am? Today, making a choice of dry foods can be immensely more complex that is, if you buy into the notion that not all gcomplete and balancedh diets are equal.
As we have described in our annual food reviews since 1998, this task starts with top-quality ingredients. To mix a metaphor, you really can’t make a silk purse out of sows’ ears, chicken heads, bovine tumors, restaurant grease, rendered fat from animals that died on farms, and cheap grain by-products left over from the human food manufacturing industry.