Web Only Article June 9, 2017

Which Type of Dog Food is Best?

We compared the pros and cons of different types of dog food - kibble, homemade, canned, raw, and dehydrated - to make your decision of what to feed your dog a little easier!

dog eating raw meaty bone

ElsBrinkerink via Wikimedia Commons

What is the best kind of dog food? Is canned food healthier than kibble? Does a homemade dog food diet require as much work as it appears to? Whole Dog Journal developed a comprehensive pros and cons chart for various dog food options you may be considering. Remember: no one dog food is best for all dogs! Consider your dog's lifestyle and needs and use this chart to help you decide what kind of food your dog should eat.

Beneath each table you will find a corresponding Whole Dog Journal article that goes into depth about the kinds of dog foods included here.

HOMEMADE DOG FOOD
Homemade Pros Homemade Cons
Homemade dog food diets provide a wider variety of healthful foods and nutrients It can be easy to neglect certain necessary ingredients to your dog's health when making his food at home - putting him at risk of nutritional deficiency if you're not vigilant
Homemade dog food puts you in control - you know exactly what your dog is eating Home-prepared dog diets require special attention to meeting the "complete + balanced" recommendations regularly; you will need to use supplements
Dogs often prefer the taste of homemade meals to commercial dog food Cooking for your dogs is a definite time investment for you
When you make your dog's food from scratch, ingredients are minimally processed and fresh Feeding homemade dog food is potentially more costly than buying commercial food
Homecooked meals result in marked health improvements for many dogs -

CLICK HERE to read, "Easy Homemade Dog Food," (July 2012).

DRY DOG FOOD
Kibble Pros Kibble Cons
Dry dog food is generally the most cost effective diet you can give your dog When feeding dry dog food, you must trust the company and manufacturer (if different) as to ingredient quality and safe food manufacturing processes - your dog is at the mercy of the pet food manufacturers' diligence
Dry dog food travels and stores well (for a specific period of time) Kibble often includes low-quality ingredients like meat by-products, sweeteners, and preservatives
Commercial kibble includes a guarantee of nutritonal completeness - you don't need to worry about deficiencies Dry dog foods are typically carb-heavy
Dry dog food is available in a wide range of choices in flavor, sourcing and cost Dry dog food ingredient quality varies – and it's almost impossible for consumer to differentiate
Kibble requires no preparation Dog food exiration dates matter! Dry food shouldn't be more than half-way to the end of its "best by" date, as vitamin levels and preservation diminishes with time

CLICK HERE to see the annual Whole Dog Journal Approved Dry Dog Food Lists.

CANNED DOG FOOD
Wet Food Pros Wet Food Cons
Canned dog food is more appetizing to dogs than dry food When feeding canned dog food, you must trust the company and manufacturer (if different) as to ingredient quality and safe food manufacturing processes - your dog is at the mercy of the pet food manufacturers' diligence
Most canned foods use fresh or frozen meats, rather than rendered (more processed) meats  It is common to see meat byproducts in lower-quality wet dog foods
There are no preservatives used in wet dog food, yet it is shelf-stable for a long time Canned dog food is generally more expensive than dry food
Wet dog food tends to be less carb-heavy than dry food BPA may be present in dog food cans - need to look at labels carefully
No preparation required with canned food Wet dog food smells bad to humans
Commercial wet dog food includes a guarantee of nutritonal completeness Wet dog food may contain too much fat for some dogs

CLICK HERE to see the annual Whole Dog Journal Approved Canned Dog Food Lists.

COMMERCIAL RAW DOG FOOD
Raw Food Pros Raw Food Cons
Store-bought raw dog food uses fresh, unprocessed ingredients, which means maximum nutrient retention for your dog If feeding commercial raw food, consumers must still trust pet food company as to ingredient quality and safe food manufacturing processes
Dog diets that include raw meat are closest to the evolutionary, biologically appropriate diets of wild and ancestral dogs  Raw diets are not good for sick or old dogs because raw meats may contain pathogens - it is a risk for immunocompromised dogs
Most commercial raw foods contain no preservatives, or artificial flavors or colors at all Raw dog food is difficult to travel with
Raw food diets show marked health improvements for many dogs Raw food must be bought frequently, or it takes up a lot of freezer space
Commercial raw food includes guarantee of nutritonal completeness Some raw dog foods contain too much fat for some dogs
- Raw dog food must be maintained at safe temperature (no thawing until consumption)

CLICK HERE to read, "The Evolution of the Raw Dog Food Diet," (September 2002).

DEHYDRATED DOG FOOD
Dehydrated Food Pros Dehydrated Food Cons
Most manufacturers of dehydrated dog food use fresh, minimally processed ingredients Like any store-bought dog food, packaged dehydrated food requires you to trust company and manufacturer (if different) as to ingredient quality and safe food manufacturing processes
Dehydrated food retains maximum nutrients after processing - only the moisture is removed Dehydrated is often the most expensive type of dog food
No preservatives are used in dehydrated dog foods, yet they are shelf-stable for a long time Dehydrated raw foods may still contain pathogens - not good for immunocompromised dogs
Commercial dehydrated dog food includes guarantee of nutritonal completeness -

CLICK HERE for more information on dehydrated dog foods.

types of dog food

MarianneBirkholz via Wikimedia Commons

You can even combine kibble, canned food and raw organs like turkey necks for added nutritional value. (In much smaller quantities than shown here.)

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