Pet Foods & Supplies » Best Dog Foods
Choosing the Best Dog Foods:
Just as there is no single diet that works for all
people, there is no single food that is best for all
dogs, so why people think there might be one ideal
food for every dog is beyond us!
Switch foods regularly. We know, you've always heard
that you shouldn't switch your dog's food in order
to avoid upsetting his stomach. This is only true if
you never vary your dog's diet. Think about it, if
you ate the same food every day for months at a
time, then ate something different, your stomach
would get upset too. You would probably be lacking
some vitamins and minerals as well!
Say your dog eats the same food day after day, year
after year. And say that food has a little more of a
mineral than is ideal, or not quite enough of a
vitamin, or an unhealthy ratio of this nutrient to
that one. Over time, lacking any other foods to
correct the imbalances, these problems can
contribute to the development of diseases.
When you do switch your dog's food, do it gradually
- over a period of 5 - 6 days at first - in order to
avoid stomach upset or diarrhea. We recommend using
25% of the new food and 75% of the old for a few
days, then slowly increasing the ratio of new to old
over the next several days. If you change foods
often, you can do it quickly, with no problems.
Ingredients to Look for in a Dog Food:
Keeping the previous principles in mind, (1. Kibble
is not the most ideal diet; 2. No one food works for
all dogs; and 3. You should switch your dog's food
regularly, and 4. You are ready to look for a few
good foods for your dog.
In order to find the best dog foods (that's plural!)
for your dog, you have to try different foods and
observe him to see what disagrees with him. If you
see an improvement in conditions such as runny eyes,
ear infections, itchy skin, severe gas or frequent
diarrhea, then you're on the right track. If not,
then try another food. We recommend that you keep
ingredient lists to help identify what works for
your dog and what doesn't.
Top quality dog foods can be identified by the
1. Animal protein at the top of the ingredient list.
Animal proteins have a higher biological value to
dogs than plant proteins and are more palatable
(your dog likes the taste better). Ingredients are
listed by weight, so the food should have one or two
animal proteins in the first five ingredients. The
protein source should be named specifically -
chicken, beef, lamb, duck, salmon, etc. "Meat" and
"Animal protein" are examples of low- quality
protein sources of dubious origin. Animal proteins
such as "meals" should be named also. "Meat meal"
can be - and is - just about anything, including
carcasses from animal shelters.
Whole meats, such as "chicken" or "beef" do not
contain enough protein to be used as a single source
protein in dry dog food. They can contain as much as
65-75% water and only as much as 25-30% protein.
When a whole meat appears at the top of a list, we
prefer to see an animal meal named next (as in
"chicken meal", or "lamb meal"), instead of a plant
protein. Although a certain amount of bone, skin and
connective tissue are included in animal protein
meal, it consists primarily of cooked and dried
("rendered") muscle meat. Animal protein meals are
dried to about 10% moisture and contain about 65%
protein, so they reflect a more accurate measurement
on the ingredient panel than do whole meats.
2. Whole vegetables, fruits and grains.
Fresh, unprocessed food ingredients contain
wholesome nutrients with their vitamins, enzymes and
antioxidants intact. They are also less likely to
have any impurities. That being said, formulators
often use a processed part of a grain or vegetable
to accomplish a specific task in a dog food. For
example, beet pulp is frequently used in a dog food
because it will concentrate the dog's solid waste
(resulting in smaller, firmer poop). We'd rather see
whole foods used for this, but one or two food
fragments won't hurt the overall quality of the
food, especially if they are lower on the ingredient
Ingredients to Avoid:
Here are some of the things that the best dog foods
should not contain:
1. Meat or poultry by-products.
Some non-muscle parts of food animals (such as
internal organs) are highly nutritious - in some
cases higher in protein and fat than muscle meat.
But there are many other parts of food animals that
are much less nutritious, and cost much less for the
processor to use. They are considerably less
carefully handled, processed and stored. Poorly
handled meats (which contain fat) and fat sources
can quickly become rancid. Rancid fats not only
smell noxious, (your dog's food should smell good),
and taste bad, they also speed the destruction of
vitamins and nutrients in the food. In contrast,
whole meats are expensive - too valuable to the
processor to be handled carelessly. Their cost
doesn't rule out poor handling and rancidity
completely, but it makes it much less likely. For
all of these reasons, we suggest avoiding any foods
with by-products or by-product meal.
2. Corn, wheat and soy.
These grains have little nutritional value to dogs
and are mainly just empty calories. Remember, dogs
are carnivores. Their digestive systems are much
shorter than ours, so these grain ingredients are
only 20-30% digestible - and thus only 20-30%
functional. Dog food manufacturers use them to keep
the cost of the food down, but you need to feed your
dog about twice as much of a grain-heavy food in
order for them to get the protein and nutrients they
need out of it. This results in over-weight,
under-nourished dogs that don't live as long as they
should. And remember, what you save in cheap dog
food now, you will inevitably spend in veterinary
3. Added sweeteners.
Dogs, like people, love sweet foods. Many foods that
consist mainly of grain fragments and little animal
protein have sweeteners added (sugar, corn syrup,
etc.) to get the dog to eat them. These types of
foods lead to diabetes and other health problems
later in your dog's life.
4. Artificial preservatives, such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyguin.
Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of
vitamin E), vitamin C and rosemary extract, can be
used instead. However, there should be some type of
preservative listed in the ingredient list as
preservation is necessary to keep the fats in the
food from turning rancid.
5. Artificial colors.
The color of the food makes no difference to the
dog. These useless chemicals are used in foods to
make them look good to you. Your dog is better off
Come see for yourself!
We want you to compare and judge our dog
foods for yourself! Bring in the ingredient list
from your bag of food and compare it to the
ingredients found in the foods at Nickel Plate
Mills. We guarantee that our foods have all of the
ingredients to look for and none of the ones to
avoid. We will be happy to help you find a food that
is healthier and better tasting for your dog!