There are so many dog food brands on the market today, it makes your head spin. There is organic, grain-free, all natural, high protein, low carbohydrate, raw and more. I did a lot of research on dog food when Tapa was sick, and wish I had known this information sooner than later. I have listed some of the best dog foods on the market below, in my opinion. They are not in any order of preference. Since some of these companies make lots of diverse products, I specify which of their products I like best.
I am an advocate of raw food which provides essential enzymes from live food, and simulates a dog’s ancestral diet. I believe the addition of raw food will increase the overall health and longevity of your dog. These are higher in fat so it is important to start slowly, and raw may not be suitable to older dogs with health concerns. You can alternate between raw freeze or air dried and raw frozen. You can feed these separately, or mix them in with dehydrated, kibble, canned or home cooked food. Dehydrated is preferable to kibble, but if you choose kibble, be sure it is high in protein and lower in carbs as well as grain free. Not all dogs will like the raw frozen, most will enjoy the freeze or air dried and if not, there are quality canned dog foods as well as your own home cooked foods. A grain free diet is best for your dog.
There is so much controversy about whether to mix raw food with kibble, kind of like eating sashimi with rice when you go out to eat Sushi. Some dog owners say mixing the two will give your dog gas while others say it works just fine. It is going to depend upon both what you believe and what your dog has to say. I personally feel it is probably easier on your dog’s digestion to keep them separate, and while it may not be a problem in the beginning, it could become one. Feed raw frozen separately as one meal, then the second meal with either raw frozen or freeze dried mixed with dehydrated, such as Sojos or Honest Kitchen, or if you must, with a quality kibble. Tapa loved kibble so I always tried to fit it in somewhere. I just kept it under 20% of her daily diet. A top pet store owner here in Miami feeds her dogs a quality kibble topped with ZiwiPeak twice a day with raw frozen as treats.
There are lots of ways to combine raw frozen, freeze dried, dehydrated, kibble, canned and home cooked. Take the time for some trial and error to see what works best for you and your dog. Some dog owners keep alternating different mixes. This again depends on your dog. Tapa did not want a lot of variety in the basics. She tended to stomach upsets with too much variety in her diet. Find what works, then keep it simple. Use variety for treats over too much variety in their basic meals.
My Best Dog Food Picks
- Sojos- Choose either the beef or turkey formulas. Most dogs seem to love the flavorful taste of Sojos, and the freshness of it once reconstituted is healthier than most dry kibble. I kept it on hand to mix with other foods, or for the convenience of travel. Tapa tended to get too thin on this food alone so I would addsome raw frozen, freeze dried, canned food or cooked chicken with either coconut oil, fish oil, chia seeds, or even mix Honest Kitchen dehydrated food with the Sojos.
- ZiwiPeak – ZiwiPeak makes three air dried dehydrated dog foods: venison, lamb and venison and fish. The protein, fat and carb levels are in perfect ratios to make this a well balanced dog food. Most dogs really love this food with the high meat and organ protein. Venison is considered an ideal meat for dogs as it is rich in essential amino acids. Combine this food with a high quality, grain free kibble, or a reconstituted food like Sojos and you have a healthy dog diet.
- Stella and Chewy’s – Stella makes seven raw frozen dog food dinners: chicken, beef, surf n’ turf, lamb, venison, rabbit and goose. The protein, fats and carb ratios are excellent though the high fat content needs to be considered if your dog has any issues. I suggest you feed these as a separate meal, and start slowly. They can be mixed with dehydrated dog food, but mixing with dry kibble is hard on your dog’s digestion and will most likely cause gas.
- Wellness – Wellness makes a lot of different products. The one I like is their 95% canned dog food. It is just what it says, 95% real meat in either beef, chicken, salmon, turkey or lamb. It does not, however, contain any added vitamins and minerals so it is not considered a complete food. Use it as a topper to a grain free kibble, dehydrated food and be sure to add nutrients if needed.
- Merrick – Merrick makes good canned dog food: the 96% which comes in pork, beef, tripe, duck, buffalo and chicken plus the grain free canned foods that come in too many varieties to even list here. Unlike Wellness 95%, this is loaded with vitamins and minerals so it is a complete dog food. The amazing varieties of the grain free canned are great, and smell very fresh when you open the can.
- Honest Kitchen – Honest Kitchen makes seven dehydrated dog foods: Embark, Zeal, Thrive, Force, Keen, Love and Verve. Each one has similar ingredients, but focuses on a different protein source. This dehydrated dog food is similar to Sojos, but has a higher fat content and less carbs. It has moderate protein so you may want to add a topper of meat, or even a bit of grain free kibble if your dog likes crunch. One thing that stands out with this company is their FDA approved label for this dog food as being fit for human consumption. They actually taste test this dog food, and pride themselves on providing whole food healthy ingredients. Honest Kitchen is also an eco-friendly pet company focused on organic ingredients with green ratings for their production, packaging and business. I like their website which provides a wealth of good information. If your dog will eat Honest Kitchen dog food, it is very high quality.
- Orjens – Orjens makes three types of freeze dried and kibble. The protein, fat and carbs ratios are good for their freeze dried, but like Stella frozen raw, the high fat content may not be suitable for some dogs. Any freeze dried or frozen raw dog foods need to be added to your dog’s diet very slowly especially if they have high fat content. Their dry dog food is a high quality dog kibble with high meat and veggie protein, sufficient fat and less carbs than most dry kibbles.
- Steve’s Real Food – Steve’s Real Food makes both a freeze dried and a raw frozen dog food. This review is for the beef raw frozen diet that also comes in chicken, turkey and a combo of turkey and duck. This is a quality raw frozen dog food very similar to Stella’s raw frozen in protein, fat and carb ratios. The only main difference is there are no added vitamins and minerals to this food as Steve appears to be trying to allow the ingredients themselves to be rich in vitamin and mineral content. I think he has done a good job, but an extra teaspoon of doggie greens would round this out and ensure any missing nutrients.
- Nature’s Variety – Nature’s Variety makes a good selection of dog foods. The freeze dried comes in raw chicken, beef and lamb. The protein, fat and carb ratios are good, but there are no added vitamins and minerals so we assume the ingredients are providing these naturally. As with any such foods, supplementation of added vitamins and minerals may be wise if you feed this brand often. This is a quality raw freeze dried dog food to mix with dehydrated, canned, home cooked or kibble.
The raw frozen comes in these formulas: beef, lamb, duck, chicken, rabbit, venison and bison. The ingredients are very similar to the raw freeze dried with again, no added vitamins or minerals, but with less fat and higher carbs. Both this raw frozen and the freeze dried are high quality grain free, raw foods designed to simulate a dog’s ancestral diet. You cannot go wrong with either one of these being added to your dog’s diet. The raw frozen is best served separately, and the freeze dried mixes with kibble better if you feed a dry dog food.
Their raw boost dry dog food is unique in being a dry kibble with added freeze dried meat, thus making it a quality, high protein dry food.