These days, there are lots of dog foods on the market. So, finding a good one can be overwhelming.
After all, on The Dog Food Advisor website alone, there are now:
So, how can you find a good brand? Here are 9 tips to help you find a superior food for your dog.
Check the Label
Pet food labels are loaded with lots of valuable information. Yet they can also be difficult to read. So, save yourself a lot of time and effort and…
Consider the Company
Many dog owners tend to distrust larger pet food companies. They mistakenly believe smaller brands are more likely to make better and safer products. However, the facts tell a different story.
Consider this: 93% of all pet foods sold in the U.S. are produced by just 3 companies — Big Heart, Mars and Purina. Yet 73 of the 88 recall events documented on this website during a recent 5-year period are linked to products of smaller brands.
Identify the Manufacturer
Most dog owners assume their pet food company actually makes the products they sell. However, today, many companies use third-party co-packers to manufacture some — or all — of their foods. Yet others make their own.
Question Product Design
What may surprise you is that there’s no legal requirement that a pet food be formulated by an animal nutritionist or any other veterinary professional. In fact, over the years, we’ve uncovered a shocking number of dog foods that have been designed by amateurs.
Confirm Nutrient Testing
It’s also important to know how the company can be certain each formulation is nutritionally complete and balanced. And how often nutritional content testing is actually performed. Does the company conduct laboratory analysis? Or do they run feeding trials? Surprisingly, we have found many (mostly smaller) companies that never do any testing at all.
Investigate Ingredient Sources
No dog food can ever be magically better than the ingredients that were used to make it. Yet labels reveal little about the quality of the raw materials actually used to make the food. Some ingredients are purchased from commodity brokers on the open market — from the cheapest bidder. Others can come from countries known to have inferior food quality standards.
However, superior companies tend to source their ingredients only from established local or regional suppliers they do business with on a recurring basis. What’s more, Federal law does not currently require any pet food company to disclose country of origin — or any other sourcing information — on its label.
Some pet food companies work hard to conceal critical information about their products.
For example, we’ve actually stumbled upon a number of companies that attempt to create an artificial sense of customer support by using voice mail to take messages. Yet no one ever returns the calls. Some brands don’t even maintain a product website. And others resist being questioned by independent websites like The Dog Food Advisor.
These companies make it difficult (or impossible) for us to get important answers — while blaming their own unwillingness to cooperate on the fact we are not veterinarians. Think about it. Are there any questions presented in this article that would require the knowledge of a veterinarian to answer? Obviously, hostile or defensive companies like these are the ones that most likely have something to hide — and should not be trusted.
For all these reasons…
Never buy any dog food made by any company that is not transparent about its products or its manufacturing practices.
Verify Quality Control
At the time of purchase, all pet foods are at risk for containing:
Disease-causing pathogens (Salmonella, Listeria)
Mold toxins (aflatoxin, vomitoxin)
Unsafe nutrient levels
And although many pathogens can be killed (pasteurized) during cooking, deadly toxins can remain in the food throughout the manufacturing process. What’s worse, re-contamination can occur anytime living germs from uncooked food accidentally come in contact with a finished food product.
Study the Recall History
Dog food recalls can provide some valuable clues about a brand’s manufacturing habits.
Pet owners tend to misunderstand and overreact to dog food recalls. And they’re inclined to overvalue the real significance of these events whenever they occur.
They forget that when it comes to any process involving human beings, errors are inevitable. Accidents are going to happen.
For more details on each of these items, review the complete article provided in the link.