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The Healthiest Dog Food: Tips for Comparing Dog Foods

Brown and white dog sitting in a field with a dog bowl filled with healthy food

A healthy diet is one thing that will help you give your dog its best and longest life. But with the hundreds of choices on the market, comparing them seems almost impossible. Here is a guide for things that will help you determine whether a brand of dog food is good or not.

Wet or dry, cooked or raw?

Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages. Some dogs prefer one, some prefer another. Basically, there is no “best” food for all dogs, but you can find the best for your dog.

Most dogs prefer wet food. Maybe they like the flavour or it is easier to eat. But giving them kibble will help them to have cleaner teeth and healthier gums. Both canned and kibble are cooked, and as food is cooked, it tends to lose some of the nutrients. Dogs evolved eating raw food, but raw food can be loaded with harmful bacteria that could make your dog sick.

The main thing to remember is to buy your food from a reputable source. If you look carefully, you will be able to find a variety of healthy dog foods for your furry friend.

Healthy dog food–A balancing act

A Chihuahua on a tight rope in the sky demonstrating a balancing act

In addition to water, and always provide plenty of water for your doggo, your dog will need protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Look for a dog food that has the proper balance of nutrients [1].

Pay Attention to Protein

Protein is needed for your dog’s muscle, skin, hair, nails and blood. Protein is made of amino acids, and there are 10 amino acids that dogs cannot make themselves:

      • Arginine
      • Histidine
      • Isoleucine
      • Leucine
      • Lysine
      • Methionine
      • Phenylalanine
      • Threonine
      • Tryptophan
      • Valine

Look for dog foods that contain:

      • Beef
      • Cheese
      • Chicken
      • Duck
      • Eggs
      • Fish
      • Goat
      • Kangaroo
      • Lamb
      • Turkey
      • Seafood
      • Venison
      • Yogurt

Find the Right Fats

Fats provide your doggo with energy and help them to absorb various fat-soluble vitamins. They can help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy, as well as reduce inflammation of their cells. Look for fats that contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which will help your dog’s brain function, muscles, liver and heart.

Count on Carbohydrates

Your dog needs carbs, too. They are easily converted into energy, and can also be converted to fat for later use. Carbohydrates also provide fibre, which is important for your dog’s digestive tract.

What vitamins and minerals does your dog need?

The healthiest dry dog foods and the healthiest wet dog foods will contain the following vitamins:

      • A
      • C
      • D
      • E
      • Choline

And minerals:

      • Calcium
      • Chloride
      • Iodine
      • Iron
      • Magnesium
      • Potassium
      • Selenium
      • Sulphur
      • Zinc

Fruits and veggies can add vitamins and minerals, so look for some of the following on the list of ingredients:

      • Apples (without the core)
      • Bananas
      • Blueberries
      • Carrots
      • Green Beans
      • Peas
      • Pears
      • Pumpkin
      • Spinach
      • Squash
      • Watermelon

What about allergies?

Some dogs are born with allergies, others develop them throughout life. No matter how healthy dog foods are, you don’t want to give your dog something they are allergic to.

Symptoms that might mean your dog is having an allergic reaction

When you change foods, pay particular attention to your doggo. If you notice any of the following symptoms, your dog might be showing you that they are allergic to something in the new food:

      • Diarrhea
      • Eye discharge
      • Hot spots
      • Itchy or scaly skin
      • Oily skin
      • Loss of hair
      • Skin rashes
      • Paws that itch
      • Red eyes
      • Sneezing

You will probably want to discontinue that particular food and consult your vet.

Some of the foods that dogs tend to be allergic to are [2]:

      • Beef
      • Lamb
      • Chicken
      • Dairy Products
      • Wheat 
      • Fish
      • Soy Products
      • Eggs

Read the label before buying the dog food

magnifying glass over a dog food label to find out if its the healthiest dog food

According to the American Kennel Club, you should look for the following on the label [3]:

  • Product and brand name or unique identifier.
  • Quantity in terms of product weight, liquid measure, or count, depending on the formulation of the food.
  • Guaranteed analysis, which specifies the amount of specific nutrients.
  • Ingredients, which must be listed in descending order by weight.
  • Nutritional adequacy statement, which must be backed up by testing that proves the food provides a certain level of nutrients. It may also include the life stages the food is appropriate for.
  • Feeding directions.
  • Manufacturer’s name and address
  • Calorie statement

It might look like a lot of work, but it will help you find the right food for your dog.

What Else Should You Consider When Selecting the Healthiest Dog Food?

To find the best food, you have to look beyond the package. While you will find a lot of information by examining your dog’s food label and ingredients, the best foods come from the best brands… and they demonstrate their care for pets!

For a healthy dog food, research the manufacturer

Not all countries regulate the pet food industry, so you need to know where it was made. Many pets have died due to the quality of the ingredients that were used and the processes that were used while manufacturing. In many cases, you will have to try to find out where each separate ingredient originated as well. Reputable manufacturers will have this information on their websites.

What about a veterinary nutritionist?

Research to see if the company uses an independent veterinary nutritionist to study the recipe that they use to see if it contains all the elements of a healthy doggy diet. They will examine all the ingredients to make sure that your dog is getting the quality food that they deserve.

Does shelf life matter?

How long has the food been sitting around? Dog food, just like human food, can spoil, get old and stale, lose its fresh flavour.

See if the foods that you are looking at have a date of manufacture. Remember, just like the food that you buy for yourself, fresher is better.

Is human-grade food better?

Some manufacturers use human-grade ingredients and processes. While this might seem excessive, it can’t hurt. Your dog doesn’t have your taste buds and its stomach has evolved to handle dangerous bacteria, you and your dog will both be happy if the manufacturer uses healthy practices when making the food.

Natural or artificial?

This is where more is not better. Look for fewer ingredients that come from natural sources. Dogs don’t worry about colour, so why add artificial colour? Look at the list of ingredients, and you should be able to easily pronounce all of them. If you can’t, you might want to look elsewhere for your dog’s food.

Let’s get cooking: Can you do it better?

Some people want to make their dog food from scratch. While it is a worthy goal, it might be more difficult than you might think. First, talk to your vet and make sure that you are providing your dog with all the nutrients that they will need [4]. Second, make sure that you are making it and storing it under sanitary conditions. Last, make sure that you don’t cross-contaminate any of your own food as you prepare and store.

A Tip You Can’t Skip: Kibble that Counts and Raw Royalty

A tan German Shepherd mix staring into the camera

At Petzyo, we want you to give your dog the healthiest dog food that you can, which is why we take special care as we manufacture our foods. We make them in small batches so that they are fresh when they arrive at your door. We carefully source all of our ingredients so that they are not only the healthiest but the safest as well. 


And we use only ingredients that are good for your dog and good for our planet. So look at our selection of foods and put the ones you think your doggo will like the most in your cart, and before you know it, it will be at your door, ready for you to give to your forever friend.

[1] Dog Nutrition: What Makes a Balanced Dog Food? | PetMD

[2] The 6 Most Common Food Allergies in Dogs (vetinfo.com)

[3] How to Read a Dog Food Label – American Kennel Club (akc.org)

[4] Homemade Dog Food Recipes: Choosing Balanced Ingredients (akc.org)