For dog food aficionados, the boom in the pet food industry has seen a lot of great additions to the market. From frozen raw meat blends to full freeze-dried meals ready to serve, there are more quality dog food options now than ever before.
Dog parents who may not have the time or resources to prepare their pup’s nourriture at home now have plenty of choices that come very close to homemade canine cuisine. Due to the fact that most of these foods are natural and unprocessed, they are also some of the most wholesome dog foods you can buy. Not surprisingly, they are also likely to be the best tasting dog food for even finicky eaters.
While it may be a little hard to judge what foods your pup finds the most palatable, pet parents usually know their dogs better than anyone. You probably have a pretty good idea of what your particular pup prefers on his plate.
Unfortunately, a lot of lower quality foods add unhealthy ingredients – artificial flavors, sweeteners, or any number of additives – that dogs may find irresistible. The good news is that several higher quality foods, including those we’ve chosen here, are appealing to dogs for an entirely different reason. These are some of the most natural foods you can buy, packed with real ingredients like fresh meat, organic fruits and vegetables and natural supplements. By being willing to spend a little more on dog food, you can buy your furred family something that is actually close to what any canine would eat in nature. This is the healthiest option for a dog’s system.
Top quality dog foods come in all different forms. There are a lot of good options in the dry food aisle as well as in cans, the two most popular mainstays of the dog food market. Our top picks here include some of the newer options that may come to be far more than passing trends in the industry.
Your Dog Will Be Howling For The Wolf Diet
Several young dog food manufacturers have sprung up around the ancestral diet trend. Their success prompted many of the larger, older manufacturers to expand production to create similar lines, embracing grain-free, organic, high protein, back-to-nature and so on.
The philosophy behind the ancestral diet is quite simple. For tens of thousands of years, wolves and other wild members of the canine species have consumed prey, consisting of animal meat, organs, bones and cartilage, with moderate amounts of fruits and plants from foraging. Your dog’s system was built on this nutritional foundation.
All good dog food must abide by nutrient profiles established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The AAFCO and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) loosely regulate what goes into pet food, but by what constitutes feed grade is a far cry from what makes our own food human grade. Moreover, harmful additives can still make their way into your dog’s bowl if you don’t pay close attention to labels.
Avoid Any Dog Food Which Contains:
- Generic terms like meat, meat by-product, or meat meal
Anything vague like meat or poultry means that it is unclear what animal was processed, or what parts of the animal were processed
- Artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors
Fructose, corn syrup, sorbitol, xylitol are common offenders
- Chemical preservatives
Examples include BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), PG (Propylene Glycol), Ethoxyquin
- Corn, wheat, gluten or soy
These are very common allergens and add no substantial nutritional value
Even though dogs are meant to thrive from a natural, meat-based diet, the dog food industry is flooded with foods that use things like corn as the main ingredients in their products. It’s no surprise that so many dogs have now developed food allergies and that chronic health conditions seem to be so prevalent in many breeds. If you are reading this, we’re sure you are looking to feed your dog something of a much higher caliber.
As A Reference, Good Quality Foods Will Contain The Following:
- Protein from an animal
Chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, venison, etc.
- Complex carbohydrates
These should definitely be in moderation. Healthy options like oats, barley, brown rice, tapioca, quinoa, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Healthy oils & some fats
A moderate amount of fat, again from an identifiable source, is needed for digestion, skin and coat. Oils from fish, flaxseed, sunflower, almond, olive, etc. contain valuable omega fatty acids.
- Fruits & vegetables
A good blend adds antioxidants. Never include onions, grapes, or cherries
- Vitamins & minerals
Many foods will supplement with these over using a lot of fruits and vegetables
These are not a requirement, but a lot of higher quality foods will include things like taurine or l-carnitine for metabolism and heart health or glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.
The best quality dog foods are those that contain natural ingredients which have undergone minimal processing. Again, one of the reasons many of the top notch raw foods are so appetizing is because they are not overly processed, allowing them to retain the scent and flavor dogs seek. Even the best quality dry foods cannot compare to the olfactory appeal of their canned or freeze-dried counterparts.
Tastefully Chosen Top Quality Dog Foods
Our selection focuses on quality dog foods that are sure to be enticing to all pups. The use of natural ingredients that are minimally processed is a great step in the right direction for pet food.
Though the raw frozen and freeze-dried foods have only made an appearance in the last decade, animal lovers everywhere are embracing them for their nutritional benefits. Unlike wet foods, which many dogs do prefer, these are also less messy, more convenient alternatives that travel very well.
Grass-fed venison from New Zealand is one of the unique, quality protein sources offered by ZiwiPeak. This raw, freeze-dried food is one that has all-around excellent ingredients for all dogs including those with food sensitivities. This recipe also uses meat, organ, cartilage and bone, with supplemental vitamins and minerals. ZiwiPeak is top quality meets taste for your pup.
Northwest Naturals has several raw food options, but their freeze-dried recipe is sure to be a favorite with your pup. It is formulated with chicken meat, bone and organs, all rich in natural nutrients, compounds and trace minerals canines need including glucosamine and chondroitin. Flaxseed and fish oil add omega fatty acids and a great mix of broccoli, kelp, blueberry, cantaloupe and more pack this food with antioxidants.
With over 90% of their recipe based on meat, organ and bone, Stella and Chewy have created a food no fog can resist. All of their meat is wild-caught, cage-free or grass-fed, perfectly balanced with fruits and veggies like spinach, squash and blueberries. Stella and Chewy is another top shelf name in dog food that is leading the ancestral and freeze-dried trends and setting the standards high.
Primal Canine has taken dog food quality to a new level by using human grade ingredients in their frozen raw recipes. They also use meat, bone, cartilage and organs, mixed with organic fruits and vegetables to give your canine everything his body needs. All of their ingredients are also sourced locally, blended and frozen fresh to be thawed and enjoyed by canine connoisseurs everywhere.
Freshpet Select offers a line of foods all based on a natural, high protein diet. Their meal rolls feature meat and vegetables cooked at lower temperatures to retain their vital nutrients. The simplicity and wholesomeness of Freshpet’s recipe makes this a delicious option for even a finicky eater or for dogs with some food sensitivities.
Dog food options range from nutritionally void and potentially harmful to naturally nourishing. If you know what to look for and seek out options that have the least amount of processing, you will find the best tasting dog foods crafted with quality.
Switching from an unhealthy diet to one that suddenly provides your pup with everything his body craved will make a notable difference. A well-fed dog is healthier inside and out. Brighter eyes, shinier coat, harder nails, better muscle tone – these are all signs of a nourished dog. What’s more, proper nutrition directly impacts brain function, improving focus, learning and even mood.
Yes, your pup will be healthier and happier. Best of all, with any of these quality options, he will also be noticeably more enthusiastic at mealtime.
Don’t let a lot of the ‘tried and true’ brands hide bad food behind a popular name and artificial flavors. If you invest a little more in a top shelf dog food you are investing in your best friend’s future.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com