Whole Dog Journal’s Canned Dog Food Selection Criteria

These are the standards to which Whole Dog Journal holds all of the canned dog foods we review, in order to earn a spot on our Best Canned Dog Food annual list.


[Updated December 18, 2018]

Hallmarks of Quality Wet Dog Food:

In order to appear on our “approved foods” list, a canned dog food must have each of the following:

1. A whole, named animal protein in one of the first two positions on the ingredients list. “Whole” means no byproducts. “Named” means a specific animal species – chicken, beef, pork, lamb – as opposed to “meat” or “poultry.” Look for products with the highest possible inclusion of top-quality animal proteins; in other words, choose a product with the animal product listed first over a product that listed water (or broth) first and the animal product second.

2. If a fat source is present, it must be named (“chicken fat” rather than “animal fat”).

3. If vegetables, grains, or other carb sources are used, we prefer to see them whole, rather than byproducts (for example, potatoes rather than potato starch).

Disqualifiers – We will not approve a canned dog food that contains:

– An unnamed animal protein or fat source, such as “meat,” “poultry,” or “animal fat.”

– Any meat byproducts or poultry byproducts.

– Any animal plasma product.

– Wheat gluten, which may be used as a cheap source of plant protein, a thickener, and/or a binder, holding together artificially formed “chunks” of ground meat.

– Sugar, molasses, or other sweeteners.

– Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.