Real Beef At The Top Of The Ingredient List
The first thing you want to do when choosing a food for yourpet is to look at the ingredient listprinted on the bag.
Dont worry, you dont have to review all of the bizarre, five-syllable words found throughout the ingredient list. Just look at the very first thing listed you want this to be a real, whole protein. In this case, you want to see something like beef or deboned beef.
Best Dry Dog Food For Seniors
Typically, you might consider a senior dog food around age 6 or 7 for a large breed, and around 10 or 12 for a small, says Richardson. The right food for a senior dog depends on the specific senior and how they’re doing, says Shepherd. If they’re maintaining a healthy weight and muscle tone, their stool is well-formed, and they’re enjoying their food, you may not even need to change their diet.
That said, there are lots of dog foods tailored specifically to the needs of older dogs who may have certain health issues. “Senior diets are formulated to target some of the common ailments of older pets, such as joint health, digestive health, immune health, and possibly others,” says Swanson.
Senior dog food is usually easier to digest and may be lower in calories since older dogs aren’t always as active. Food for senior dogs may be higher in protein to help maintain their muscle, fiber to help them stay regular, and extra antioxidants to limit oxidative stress and keep their immune system healthy. You may also see omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive performance because some senior dogs suffer from cognitive dysfunction, aka “doggy dementia.”
For older dogs, a bit of extra protein is a plus. As long as your dog doesn’t have any health conditions, look for a senior dog food that’s lower in fat and calories and has extra protein beyond the AAFCO minimum of 18%.
Our senior dog food picks are protein packed and have nutritional boosters that can support an older dog’s changing needs.
Best Wet Food For Puppies
Dry food isn’t the only option for puppies. Wet food is another tasty option and offers several advantages for puppies. “Wet food can help puppies transition from a liquid diet to solid food,” says Shepherd. She adds that this transition, which should begin before a puppy is fully weaned, helps puppies accept solid food and learn how to drink water.
Wet food is also easy for puppies to eat. Without sturdy adult teeth, young puppies can struggle to munch on dry kibble, making wet food’s soft and moist texture ideal. In addition, wet food is packed with flavor, providing tasty enticement for a picky or hesitant eater. However, Shepherd recommends consulting your veterinarian if your puppy’s appetite is poor as there may be an underlying condition.
When reading a label for wet puppy food, look for the AAFCO statement that says the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for growth or all life stages. Also, remember that wet food tends to cost more than kibble and needs to be refrigerated and used within a few days to prevent spoiling.
Wet food certainly has its benefits for puppies, but it’s not a necessity. “The decision to feed dry versus wet food is very individual, depending on the individual puppy’s needs and owner’s desires and resources,” says Shepherd.
Our picks for wet puppy food:
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Quality Meat Meal Vs Mystery Meat
A meat meal can only be as good as the ingredients it was made from. If by-products and low-quality meats were utilized to make the meat meal, then the final product wont be great.
Often, meat meals that are high-quality contain their source in their name. Because chicken and beef are quality meats, the resulting meat meal will be high-quality, too. Knowing exactly where the meat comes from helps you avoid any allergies your pet might have.
It is possible to see unnamed meat meals on ingredient lists, as well. Meat meal isnt terribly high-quality in most cases, since the source isnt listed. If a source isnt listed, it either changes regularly or the company doesnt want you to know the source. Therefore, we recommend against meat meals that dont have the source listed.
- Unspecified meat meals
- Meat meals made with low-quality ingredients
On an ingredient list, prioritize quality, specifically-named meat meals like lamb meal, chicken meal, beef meal, fish meal and generally avoid diets that do not specify the protein source such as meat meal, animal meal, and poultry meal.
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Dry Dog Food Versus Wet Or Canned Dog Food
Freeman argued the amount of water in wet food might make it an unwise investment, and instead recommended you go with dry food. One benefit to dry food , she noted, is that the friction of chewing it can help keep your dogs teeth and gums healthy. Its also less messy. Morgan added that bags of dry food also tend to be more affordable compared to the other options.
However, Morgan noted that kibble typically includes less meat and often includes some sort of grain, legume, or potato. If you go with kibble, Morgan suggested topping the dry food with a bit of canned food, meat from home, or other toppers.
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What Is The Best Food I Can Feed My Dog
There’s no end-all-be-all, best dog food ever. That’s because every dog is different. Some dogs may do better with more protein or fat and some with less. Dogs handle amounts of fiber differently too.It’s also important to find a food your dog enjoys eating, which can take some trial and error. According to Shepherd, you’ll know you’re feeding your dog a food that’s right for them, when they maintain a healthy weight have formed stool that’s easy to pick up, but not so firm that they’re having a hard time pooping aren’t vomiting between meals have healthy skin and coat and are growing appropriately if they’re a puppy.Other signs of good health, Osborne says, include clear eyes and nose, ears that aren’t smelly, and bowel movements that are homogeneous, meaning they don’t have little undigested pieces of food in them.
Is Meat Meal Healthy
While meat meal does have more protein, thats not the end of the story.
Some varieties of meat meal are extremely high-quality, giving your dog a dense source of nutritious, natural protein
while other types of meat meal are made up of waste materials including animal heads, hooves, bones, and other waste that you would NOT want your dog to eat.
The bottom line is: a meat meal can only be as healthy as the ingredients that were used to make it.
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What Are Some Of The Benefits Of High
Joe Caione / Unsplash
The benefits of a quality-ingredient, high-protein diet for your pup are increased health, wellness, and longevity, Gore says. Diets high in high-quality protein are lean and more bioavailable to dogs. A balanced, high-protein diet that agrees with the individual wont put added strain on the system or organs, which can lead to health concerns.
Having more protein in a dog food formulation also means less room for poor-quality ingredients, which can make for a more nutritious dog food overall.
One of the reasons a high-protein diet can benefit pups is because protein is viewed as a superior macronutrient to carbohydrates and fats, says Gore. Foods that are not as high in protein will be higher instead in carbs and fats, which can be more taxing on the internal systems, and not as healthful, or beneficial to your pup.
The Best Dog Food According To Experts And Veterinarians
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Dogs provide humans with unconditional love and emotional support, which pet owners might be especially thankful for during the stressful times we are living through. Feeding your dog a nutritious diet is just one way to show them how much you care, in addition to providing them with the right dog bed, toys to play with and the occasional dog treat. Simply put, dogs deserve to eat well in fact, appropriate food is fourth in the American Veterinary Medical Associations Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership.
SKIP AHEAD How to shop for dog food
Aiming for the best food for dogs gives them distinct health advantages, too, said Jennifer Freeman, DVM, resident veterinarian and pet care expert at PetSmart. Premium dog food will include meat for protein, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruit, and omega fatty acids for a shiny coat, Freeman said, adding its also likely to have fewer fillers such as corn, wheat, and soy.
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Basic Recipe For A Homemade Diet For Dogs
This recipe makes 1 pound of homemade dog food. For more details, see frequently asked questions below the recipe:
Frequently Asked Questions
Variety is best! Most common are boneless, chopped chicken or turkey breast or thighs ground beef or ground chicken/turkey or chunks of stew beef.
You should also try to include bison, venison, lamb, rabbit, and/or duck, from time to time. You can often get these at farmer’s markets.
Yes, although most supermarket meat comes from livestock that were raised inhumanely and fed crappy processed corn-based diets, instead of being allowed to free-feed on natural grass. That can affect the quality of the meat.
So if you can find it and afford it, I highly recommend “organic” meat from local, free-range, grass-fed livestock. This is even more important if you’re going to feed it raw.
I prefer lean for most dogs. It’s easier to keep a meal’s overall fat content down if you don’t feed fattier cuts of meat.
Yes, although I don’t recommend too much fish, because so many species contain toxins such as mercury. We’ve polluted our oceans, sad to say. The lowest-mercury fish seems to be Wild Alaskan Salmon.
But feeding fish once a week is great. I prefer to cook fish, as cooking kills a particular type of worm in fish that could make a dog sick.
But dogs need the rich nutrients in organ meat. In fact, organ meat is so rich that dogs should only eat a little bit at a time, else they might get diarrhea.
To add calcium, you can either:
Myth: Meat Is More Nutritious Than Meat Meal
If youre comparing ingredient lists, should you choose the one with meat or with meat meal listed first? If your goal is to have the most meat nutrients, choose meat meal. Ingredients appear in descending order of their weight that weight includes any water in the ingredient.
When you see chicken listed as an ingredient, it means unprocessed chicken, complete with water. Chicken meal means chicken with the water and fat removed. It weighs less than chicken but actually can contain a higher percentage of protein.
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How Do I Read A Dog Food Label
There are a few things one has to keep in mind before reading a food label:
- Protein Source. It is best to figure out if the protein in your dogs food comes from a known source. If the first ingredient in your dogs food is either chicken, lamb, beef as a whole, then the brand can be trusted. Be wary of ingredients that mention meat by-products as they could lead to health problems in some dogs.
- Additional Ingredients. These include vegetables, fruits, and grains. While these ingredients are crucial to balance your dogs meal, sometimes there can be allergic reactions that might cause health complications.
- Preservative. Your dogs food should not contain any artificial preservative that could cause health problems in some dogs. These are usually added to increase the shelf life of the product. If you see dog food with an unusually long shelf life, you might want to look up the preservative the brand is using.
What About Ingredient Sourcing
In addition to the country in which a dog food is made, it is also important to think about where the manufacturer obtains the ingredients they use.
You may encounter foods with the label made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients. This just means that these foods are prepared in America, but they are made with ingredients imported from other countries.
This isnt necessarily an issue, but foods made solely from US-sourced ingredients are preferable.
However, foods that are made solely with US-sourced ingredients are pretty rare in the marketplace, and most manufacturers end up having to obtain some of their ingredients from other countries.
In fact, Nom Nom is the only food discussed above that is made solely from US-sourced ingredients.
However, as dog food manufacturers increasingly recognize that consumers want their dogs food to contain locally, ethically sourced ingredients, its slowly becoming more common to see US-sourced ingredients. Heck, some sustainablility-focused dog food brands like Open Farm even have lot trackers that identify exactly where each ingredient from your specific bag of dog food comes from.
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Our Rating Of Real Meat Company Dog Food
Real Meat Company is a grain-free dehydrated dog food using an abundant amount of named meats and organs as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and their fat-to-protein ratios.
Consult With Your Vet Before Putting Your Dog On A High
There are some great high-protein dog foods on this list. But before you introduce any new dog food or put your dog on a high-protein diet, its important to consult with your veterinarian. Because every dog is different, every dog has different nutritional needs. Make sure you talk to your vet about your dogs health and activity level they can tell you if a high-protein dog food is the right fit for your pup and their overall health.
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Best Dry Dog Food For Puppies
If you’re wondering whether your puppy really needs a special food just for younger dogs, the answer is yes! Puppies need more calories, more fat, and a different vitamin and mineral balance to support healthy growth, Shepherd explains. Typically, puppy food is made for dogs under 1 year of age.
Though there aren’t any official AAFCO nutrient standards specifically for small and large breeds, some puppy foods are made specially for dogs of different sizes. “Balancing the nutrient needs of dogs given their wide size variety and ages is wise and common sense,” says Dodds. For instance, large breed puppies need a special ratio of calcium to phosphorus for their growing big bones, and they can benefit from supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin to help keep their joints healthy, according to Shepherd. On the flip side, puppy foods for smaller breeds often have smaller kibble pieces for smaller mouths. They may also be a bit higher in calories, since smaller breeds can have higher metabolisms.
If you want to make sure a food is appropriate for puppies, check the label for an AAFCO complete and balanced statement that says it’s intended for growth for all life stages. Some foods might also specifically state that they’re for younger dogs. Keep an eye out for any food that says “maintenance” on the package. These are meant specifically for adult dogs, so they won’t be right for a puppy.
Our picks for puppy food:
Falls Short In Providing Macronutrients
While feeding meat alone to a dog might sound natural, a meat-only feeding regime can fall short on providing some essential nutrients. If an all-meat diet is implemented, your dog could miss out on carbohydrates and dietary fiber!
Carbohydrates provide the body with energy. They are a vital component of a nutritious diet. A deficiency in carbohydrates leads to slow metabolism, fatigue, and excessive breakdown of proteins. Unfortunately, all types of meat are close to zero carbs, so a meat-only diet wont provide enough carbohydrates for your dog. Organ meats are the only exception to this rule. Liver, for example, contains around 5% carbohydrates. In addition, all meats are very low in dietary fibers. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate. It cant be digested by the body and is essential to keep the digestive system healthy. All-meat diets cannot provide enough dietary fiber for a dog.
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Is There Real Meat In Dog Food
Dog food contains either meat by-products or muscle tissue. The most common meat product used in dog foods is meat meal. As an ingredient, meat meal is a widely encompassing term. The AAFCO defines meat meal as, The rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents. This leaves residual meat, offal, connective tissues, and bones. While meat meal is high in protein, its actual meat content is comparatively low.
In contrast, real meat is primarily the striate muscle tissue of an animal. It can also include fat, gristle, and other tissues found in the tongue, diaphragm, the heart, and esophagus. If a pet food label only describes the meat as meat, it can only be from cattle, pigs, sheep, or goats. Any other meats must be appropriately identified .
The Honest Kitchen Whole Food Clusters Grain Free Chicken Dry Dog Food
- Complete & Balanced nutrition for adult dogs and puppies of all breeds and sizes, including large breed puppies, as well as adult mothers .
- Clusters are thoughtfully prepared using human grade muscle meat & liver, low glycemic carbs, beneficial fats & live probiotics cold pressed into delicious, bite-size, ready-to-eat pieces.
- Clusters are made by mixing small batches of fresh ingredients, cold pressing them into bite-sized clusters, and then gently slow roasting and dehydrating them to maintain the nutrients, aroma and taste of whole foods.
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