Dogs are known as man’s best friend, and choosing the right food for them is a critical responsibility for pet owners. A healthy and balanced diet is essential to ensure your dog’s overall well-being, including their coat, teeth, and digestion. Many dog owners end up simply buying whatever food they find in the pet store and falling for flashy marketing or packaging. With so many options available in the market, it can be challenging to determine the best dog food that meets your specific pet’s nutritional requirements.
One of the biggest problems dog owners face is obesity. Animals that are overweight are at a higher risk for other complications such as diabetes, heart disease, or other weight-related disorders. According to a recent clinical survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55.8 percent of dogs and 59.5 percent of cats were classified as clinically overweight or obese by their veterinary healthcare professionals. Obesity starts with diet, and an obese pet will only mean more complicated expensive issues that might cause you and your pet major discomfort as they age.
Feeding your dog the correct diet can even result in less poop for you to scoop! A study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois found that feeding pets higher quality food with human-grade ingredients can result in up to 66 percent less poop to scoop. Just like in humans, a dog’s digestive system works to extract the nutrients it can use from the food it receives, then dispenses the rest as waste material (aka poop!). The more nutritious ingredients, the less waste produced.
To help you find something yummy and healthy to feed your pooch, StudyFinds has compiled a list of the kibbles that are nutritious, delicious, and made with high-quality ingredients. Our list is made up of the five best dog foods most recommended across 10 expert sources. What do you feed your furry friend? Let us know in the comments below.
The List: Best Dog Food, According to Canine Experts
A dog’s main source of nutrition should be based on protein, and not all dogs can tolerate the same kinds. A good food should contain a variety of proteins. Owners of large breeds should avoid foods that contain legumes as a protein source. The Strategist writes “Purina Pro Plan line also features a wide variety of proteins, including chicken, beef, salmon, duck, lamb, pork, and even quail.” The formula contains brewer’s rice and barley but no legumes.
Besides being high in essential proteins, this food is also great for dogs who have allergies or food sensitivities. The main protein source is fish, instead of traditional chicken, turkey, or beef protein sources that can aggravate skin allergies. “This formula is also fortified with live probiotics for digestive and immune health and contains easily digestible oatmeal as a healthy carbohydrate source,” adds Canine Journal.
If you don’t have a need for a sensitive stomach and skin formula, Purina has many other options in this line. According to NBC News, “The brand’s highly rated Pro Plan dog food is geared toward dogs of different sizes and in all stages of life, including large-breed adults and puppies.”
Often recommended by veterinarians, Royal Canin Small Adult is made to perfectly suit the needs of small dogs. However, it comes at a higher price point and can often contain common allergens. “Royal Canin offers some of the most diverse dog food options on the market — the brand makes both dry and wet food for a variety of dog sizes, breeds and dietary restrictions, including food sensitivities and gastrointestinal issues,” says NBC News.
Small dogs actually require higher levels of calories per pound of body weight compared to large dogs. “Made with a great balance of nutrients and fatty acids that help enhance the natural shine of your pup’s fur coat, along with high concentrations of protein, this is a great pick for providing your dog with all the energy it needs,” ACTIVE mentions.
Canine Journal mentions that it is not grain-free or gluten-free, but “has precise nutrition for small dogs ten months to 8 years old, weighing 9 to 22 pounds.”
Hill’s makes their small bites formula for senior dogs, adults, and puppies. Purchase the special smaller kibble formula for senior dogs in a small five-pound bag or stock up with a bulk 33-pound bag. According to NY Post, “This is an easy-to-digest food for senior dogs who prefer a smaller kibble size. Its synergistic ingredient blend encourages youthful vitality and promotes an ideal weight.”
Hills’ also makes a puppy version of this food that’s perfect for growing pups to easily digest in case they tend to scarf down their food. “It’s made with wholesome ingredients like chicken and barley and enhanced with antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, and DHA to support developing organs and learning ability,” adds Forbes.
NBC News writes more about the puppy kibble: “The formula contains natural DHA from fish oil that works to support healthy brain and eye development, as well as a vitamin E and vitamin C blend that helps support a healthy immune system in puppies.”
The first ingredient in this food is real meat, with enough protein to support your adult dog no matter how active their lifestyle is. “The recipe contains the right mixture of proteins and carbohydrates to fuel your dog while also supporting lean muscle mass. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids support healthy skin and coats and added ‘LifeSource Bits’ help protect your dog’s immune system,” says Petco.
The Blue Buffalo Formula contains no corn, wheat, or soy ingredients and is enhanced with whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Pawp explains “The deboned protein-rich chicken recipe is enhanced with natural ingredients that are chock full of health benefits, like calcium, phosphorus, and Glucosamine for bone strength and mobility support.”
Canine Journal named this as their best dry dog food overall. “This recipe contains no chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives. It’s not grain-free, but many experts believe that most dogs need healthy grains in their diet if they don’t have allergies.”
Merrick brand foods are made with 10 ingredients or less, meaning less unhealthy fillers for your pet but still all the nutrition they need.“With 26% protein, 15% fat, and 3.5% fiber, this is a good option for moderately active, normal-weight dogs,” explains Insider. There are no additives, sweeteners, colors, or preservatives, and they’re made in the company’s Texas-based kitchen.
The Spruce Pets says, “Merrick is part of Nestlé Purina, meaning they use the same team of nutritionists, veterinarians, and behaviorists when creating their dog food formulas.” Your pup can enjoy the benefits of healthy omega fatty acids found in flaxseed and salmon.
NBC News‘ editor describes how her dog loves their salmon and sweet potato flavor: “‘She gobbles it down and she does great with it — she has a sensitive tummy and her vet said we should avoid chicken and turkey, so I stick to salmon,’ Greenwald said, adding that she likes the sweet potato in the formula ‘because it’s good for dogs’ digestion.'”
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.