Whole Dog Journal’s Approved Dry Dog Food List


The meals you give your dog performs a essential position in his well-being, each every day and long-term. He wants a food regimen with the best vitamins to maintain him energetic, blissful, and wholesome. And make no mistake: Not all dog meals are created equal. Since 1998, Whole Dog Journal has been proving that a lot in an annual evaluate and rankings of dry dog meals.

Dog meals manufacturers like Fromm, Orijen, Diamond’s Taste of the Wild, and Merrick have been regulars on the Whole Dog Journal Approved checklist in recent times, as have Bench & Field and Wellpet’s Wellness, amongst many others.

Year by Year: Subscribers to Whole Dog Journal can entry our annual dry dog meals opinions on-line. Here are hyperlinks to the previous 5 years of accredited dog meals:

Whole Dog Journal charges dry dog meals and creates an annual “Approved” checklist (for publication each February) primarily based on the next standards.

Need a fast break-down? Check out WDJ’s 10 Dry Dog Food Shopping Tips that will help you get the concept!

Must-Have Ingredients in Dry Dog Food

Make positive your dog’s dry meals has the next parts, the hallmarks of a top quality product:

☐ Superior sources of protein: Look for dry dog meals that include quite a lot of animal proteins—both entire, recent meats or single-source meat meal. For instance, you need to see “hen meal” or “beef meal” on the label, not “poultry meal” or “meat meal.” A dog meals label itemizing merely “meat” is an instance of a low-quality protein supply of doubtful origin.

☐ Whole-meat supply as one of many first two substances: Better but: two meat sources among the many prime three substances (say, hen and hen meal). Meat, probably the most pure supply of protein for dogs, comprises the amino acids most vital to canine well being. A very good mixture of meat proteins helps spherical out a dog meals’s amino acid profile.

☐ Whole, unprocessed grains, greens, and different meals. An unprocessed meals in your dog has one of the best likelihood of surviving the food-making course of with its vitamins—nutritional vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants—intact.

Avoid Dry Dog Food with These Ingredients

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When scanning dry dog meals labels, preserve your eyes peeled for the next undesirables. High-quality dry dog meals have these substances in minimal percentages:

✗ Meat by-products. Research has revealed that higher-value substances in dry dog meals are typically processed and saved extra rigorously (stored clear and chilly) than lower-cost substances—together with “by-products.” And it’s nearly inconceivable to establish the standard of by-products. We desire to see these second-rate substances in a supporting position to entire meats or meat meals—say, beneath the highest 5 substances.

✗ “Generic” fats supply. “Animal fat”—an ingredient you could discover in some dry dog meals—will be absolutely anything, from an unwholesome thriller combine of varied fat to recycled grease from eating places. A preferable ingredient could be “beef fat” or “chicken fat.” The extra generic the time period, the extra suspect the ingredient is. (We shudder to consider what’s in “animal digest”—one other merchandise we’ve seen on ingredient lists.)

✗ Artificial preservatives, together with BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin. Natural preservatives corresponding to tocopherols (compounds usually with vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract can be utilized as an alternative. Note that pure preservatives don’t protect dog meals so long as synthetic preservatives do, so house owners ought to all the time test the “best by…” date on the label.

✗ Artificial colours. Trust us: Your dog doesn’t care in regards to the coloration of his meals. And he definitely doesn’t want day by day publicity to pointless chemical compounds that present coloration. Also keep away from dog meals with propylene glycol, a chemical added to some “chewy” meals to maintain them moist.

✗ Artificial flavors. Your dog’s meals must be flavored effectively sufficient with wholesome meats and fat to be attractive to him.

✗ Sweeteners. Dogs, like us, have a style for sweets. Corn syrup, sucrose, ammoniated glycyrrhizin, and different sweeteners are typically added to lower-quality meals to extend their enchantment. But dietary sugar could cause or worsen well being issues—together with diabetes—in dogs.

THE COST OF GOOD DOG FOOD: Is Expensive Dry Dog Food Really Better?

When you perceive what traits make dry dog meals, go evaluate the merchandise within the value vary that works for you. The ingredient high quality of low-cost pet meals is mostly decrease, however the vary of meals manufacturers and recipes used is so massive, Whole Dog Journal is assured you’ll have the ability to discover a appropriate kibble in your dog.

Calculate the value per pound of any meals you might be contemplating. (Don’t be afraid to drag out your calculator app within the pet retailer!) Write the numbers down so you may evaluate costs at completely different shops; in case you are accustomed to purchasing your dog’s meals in a grocery retailer, you could be stunned to search out that you could find meals of a a lot increased high quality at a comparable value in different shops.

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For instance, Beneful is a model that’s offered in lots of grocery and big-box shops. It prices greater than most of the meals within the grocery retailer, so you could be patting your self on the again for getting a greater meals in your dog. A 12.5-pound bag of its Grain-Free Chicken selection sells for $14.19, or $1.13 per pound. But take a look at the substances (we’ll checklist simply the primary 10):

– hen
– pea starch
– cassava root flour
– hen by-product meal
– soybean germ meal
– soybean meal
– canola meal
– beef tallow
– dried beet pulp
– poultry and pork digest

This meals comprises a minimal of 24% protein and 13% fats.

Now, let’s take a look at the primary 10 substances of one of many meals on Whole Dog Journal‘s  lists. We’ll evaluate it to a product from an organization whose common costs are the bottom on our checklist: Eagle Pack. The Chicken Meal and Pork Meal system sells for $39.99 for a 30-pound bag ($1.33 per pound).

– hen meal
– pork meal
– floor brown rice
– dehulled barley
– oatmeal
– rice
– peas
– hen fats
– brewers dried yeast
– flaxseed

This meals comprises a minimal of 27% protein and 14% fats.

Yes, there’s a 20-cent per pound distinction within the costs of those meals; the Beneful is inexpensive. But the distinction in high quality is big.

It’s good that Beneful makes use of hen meat as its first ingredient, however its subsequent animal protein (hen by-product meal) is fourth on this checklist. Because meat comprises a lot moisture, the hen doesn’t contribute as a lot protein to the food regimen as a meat meal. Beneful props up the protein content material on this meals with low-quality protein sources: hen by-product meal, soybean germ meal, and soybean meal.

By the way in which, we’d name the looks of these final two substances “ingredient splitting.” If you added the burden of the soybean germ meal and the soybean meal, we’d hazard a guess that they might outweigh the hen by-product meal, that means they play a far bigger position within the meals than the hen by-product meal.

Animal proteins include extra of the amino acids that dogs require than plant proteins, however plant proteins are inexpensive – therefore their look in lower-priced dog meals.

In distinction, Eagle Pack makes use of two high-quality meat meals as the primary and second substances; that is the place the meals is getting most of its protein.

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As a fats supply, the Beneful meals makes use of beef tallow – broadly thought-about to be a lower-quality fats than the hen fats used within the Eagle Pack meals.

The grains used within the Eagle Pack meals are both entire or calmly processed (floor or dehulled). In distinction, the carbohydrate sources within the Beneful product are extremely processed (pea starch, cassava root flour, canola meal). Overall, there’s a world of distinction between the 2 meals.

Average Dog Food Price Per Pound

The 2018 Dry Dog Food Review lists a variety of firms that make good- to great-quality dry dog meals in  order of the common value of their merchandise. We collected costs for kibble from on-line retailers and from the businesses themselves, asking for his or her steered retail costs for the largest-sized baggage of their meals (the bigger the bag, the decrease the value per pound). We calculated the value per pound of every number of meals (by dividing the value by the variety of kilos of meals within the bag). Then we calculated the common value per pound of meals for every firm, utilizing the figures from every meals in every line.

Does a high-end dog meals actually make a distinction to your dog’s lifelong well being? As any long-time reader is aware of, the pet meals trade seeks to maximise its earnings, not the well being of the animals who depend upon it. Most people can’t entry grass-fed natural meat for themselves, not to mention their dogs, so discover manufacturers of kibble with first rate ingredient lists which you might be comfy paying for.

But do know that within the case of dog meals, you do get what you pay for.

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Whole Dog Journal‘s Approved checklist relies on assessments of dry dog meals substances together with the “Guaranteed Analysis” anybody can discover on meals labels. Dog house owners are inspired to develop an understanding of which substances are useful and which aren’t—and to routinely take a look at labels earlier than shopping for.

A scan of a dry dog meals’s substances can inform you numerous in regards to the maker’s intentions and philosophy. If a dog meals firm admits to utilizing synthetic preservatives, say, or a lot of grain “fragments” or animal “by-products,” you’re most likely not coping with a top-of-the-line product.

Conversely, if an inventory of dog meals substances leads off with a top quality protein supply adopted by entire, wholesome meals, you recognize you’ve discovered a worthy product.

Keep in thoughts that there’s no “right” meals that works for each one of many 77.eight million dogs in America. They’re all people with distinctive physiological and metabolic make-ups. Consider:

A dog who’s liable to urinary tract infections could be higher off with a meals decrease in pH (and thus much less acidic).

If your dog is lean and energetic, you would possibly search for a higher-fat, higher-protein model.

If your dog is older and fewer energetic, you may want meals with the next proportion of lean protein.

These are just a few doable elements you could be coping with when on the lookout for a dog meals. Here are some real-world examples of equally legitimate dog meals shopping for choices.

Caloric Considerations

Another factor it’s important to think about is the caloric content material of the meals you select. If the meals you choose in your dog is energy-dense, and your dog is a sofa potato, you could have to chop her day by day ration significantly to stop her from getting fats. Some dogs reply to pressured weight-reduction plan with begging, counter-surfing, and garbage-raiding. If your dog is considered one of these, you could have to hunt out a high-fiber, low-calorie meals – one that won’t essentially include the highest-quality protein or fats sources in the marketplace – to maintain your dog feeling contentedly full with out getting fats.

Dogs exhibit a variety of power necessities. You could have to hunt out a higher- or lower-calorie meals primarily based on the next attributes that may have an effect on your dog’s power wants:

• Activity stage. The extra a dog workout routines the extra power he must devour to keep up his situation; it’s that straightforward.

• Growth. Growing puppies have increased power necessities than grownup dogs. A meals with the next protein stage, however a reasonable (not excessive) fats stage is good. Obese puppies are much more liable to degenerative joint illness – particularly in massive and large breeds – than puppies with a traditional or slim physique.

• Age. The age at which a dog turns into a senior citizen varies from breed to breed, with bigger dogs thought-about geriatric at earlier ages. Older dogs sometimes require fewer energy to keep up their physique weight and situation, partly as a result of they are typically much less energetic than youthful dogs.

• Environmental circumstances. Dogs who stay or spend a lot of their time outdoors in extreme chilly temperatures want from 10 % to as a lot as 90 % extra power than dogs who take pleasure in a temperate local weather. The thickness and high quality of the dog’s coat, the quantity of physique fats he has, and the standard of his shelter have direct results on the dog’s power wants.

• Illness. Sick dogs have elevated power wants; it takes power to mount an immune response or restore tissues. However, dogs who don’t really feel effectively additionally are typically inactive, which lowers their power wants.

• Reproduction. A pregnant feminine’s power requirement doesn’t enhance considerably till the ultimate third of her being pregnant, when it could enhance by an element of three.

• Lactation. A nursing feminine could require as a lot as eight instances as a lot power as a feminine of the identical age and situation who isn’t nursing.

• Neutering. It is mostly accepted that neutered (and spayed) dogs have diminished power wants. However, there are literally no research that conclusively show that neutered dogs require fewer energy merely on account of decrease hormone ranges. It has been steered that these dogs achieve weight resulting from elevated appetites and/or decreased exercise ranges.

• Other particular person elements. Other elements that may have an effect on a dog’s power requirement embody its temperament (nervous or placid?) and pores and skin, fats, and coat high quality (how effectively he’s insulated towards climate circumstances).

Dog Food for Managing Canine Illnesses & Health Problems

If your dog has any kind of illness or an inherited propensity for illness, ask your veterinarian about the advantages of dietary remedy to assist deal with or forestall the illness. Don’t accept the suggestion of a business “prescription” food regimen; most of them are formulated with lower-quality substances. Instead, ask what particularly within the food regimen has been manipulated in order to be useful in your dog. Then, see if you could find a product that provides the identical advantages and better-quality substances. The finest instance is a “kidney” food regimen for dogs with kidney failure. The purpose is to feed these sufferers a food regimen with a reasonable stage of very high-quality protein and low quantities of phosphorus (see “When to Say No to Low-Protein“). An intelligently formulated home-prepared dog meals food regimen can do a much better job of undertaking these objectives than the business dog meals diets in the marketplace.

You must also do a little analysis by yourself to find out what dietary adjustments would possibly assist your dog. A very good beginning place is Donald R. Strombeck’s Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative (obtainable by order in bookstores). Dr. Strombeck particulars methods for altering the dog’s food regimen to deal with and/or forestall gastrointestinal, pores and skin, skeletal and joint, renal, urinary, endocrine, coronary heart, pancreatic, and hepatic illness.

Other illnesses that may be improved with dietary administration embody:

• Allergy or intolerance. There are a variety of breeds which might be notably prone to meals allergic reactions, together with Cocker Spaniels, Dalmatians, English Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Schnauzers, and extra. Again, it’s vital to maintain a document of what meals you feed your dog, what they include, and the way your dog seems and feels. If your data point out that a number of substances set off dangerous reactions in your dog, search out meals that don’t include these substances in any quantity. (See “Walking the Allergy Maze,” “Diet Makes the Difference“.)

• Cancer. High-fat, low-carbohydrate (or carb-free) diets are perfect for most cancers sufferers. Cancer cells use carbs for power, and don’t simply make the most of fats, so you may successfully “starve” the most cancers cells whereas offering additional power to your dog with a food regimen wealthy in a high-quality fats sources. (See “Feed the Dog, Starve the Cancer,”)

• Inherited metabolism problems. Some breeds are liable to illnesses with a robust dietary affect. For instance, the West Highland White Terrier and the Cocker Spaniel have an inherited tendency to undergo from copper buildup within the liver; these dogs ought to eat a food regimen that’s formulated with low ranges of copper. Malamutes and Siberian Huskies can inherit a zinc metabolism dysfunction, and require a high-zinc food regimen (or zinc dietary supplements).

Ask your veterinarian (and dependable breeders) about your dog’s breed-related dietary necessities. And contact the producer of your dog’s meals for the expanded model of the meals’s nutrient ranges. Pet meals makers should not required to print the degrees of each nutrient on their labels, however ought to make this data obtainable to you upon request.

So take your dog’s age, situation, and well being historical past under consideration. Consider product availability, too; a big proportion of the manufacturers on WDJ‘s Approved checklist can be found at unbiased shops, and a few circumstances are regionally offered merchandise.

And, after all, value can come into play. The proper dog meals isn’t essentially low-cost, however that previous axiom, “You get what you pay for,” applies right here, too.


Nutrition specialists don’t agree on the whole lot, however one factor they often concede to be true is that every one animals take pleasure in one of the best well being when given a balanced and ranging food regimen of recent, species-appropriate meals.

They additionally usually agree that extremely processed meals should not as wholesome as calmly processed meals; a few of nature’s worth is all the time misplaced to oxidation, warmth, stress, and chemical interactions. Foods made with extremely processed (and typically, in consequence, aged) substances are at a giant drawback in contrast to those who are made with recent, entire substances.

The healthiest dog meals include high-quality proteins and entire, unprocessed grains and greens. Always be sure that the dry dog meals you purchase embody high-quality proteins, corresponding to both entire, recent meats or single-source meat meal (“chicken meal” or “beef meal.”) Avoid dog meals that use obscure wording on the substances checklist, corresponding to “poultry meal” or “meat meal.” Any label that merely says “meat” must be disqualified as a low-quality supply of protein.

Finally, do not forget that it’s a good suggestion to modify dog meals commonly. Choose a number of manufacturers that include the best substances and provides your dog some selection over time. It’ll assist right the excesses, insufficiencies, or imbalances that consequence from the identical dog meals day in and time out.

Year by Year: Subscribers to Whole Dog Journal can entry our annual dry dog meals opinions on-line. Here are hyperlinks to the previous 5 lists of accredited dog meals:



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