The Best Dry Dog Food: A Complete Guide

Just like humans, dogs love to eat (and they don’t always care what it is)! However, as you are in charge it’s better to go for quality so you know exactly what you are putting into your dog’s stomach. So by feeding your pooch the best dry dog food whether it is a home made dog food recipe or a purchased brand, your dog’s body will respond to ingredients that are healthy and free from nasty additives and preservatives.

You don’t necessarily need to choose the most expensive dry dog food to get the best, but it is normally safer to choose one that has been made by a reputable manufacturer unless you decide on making your own.

Did you know that it is possible to purchase dry dog food that that has been especially made for a dog’s age – the manufacturers do this by classifying each variety as senior, adult or for puppies and it is important that you choose the right version for your dog or puppy.

Below is a quick guide for helping you choose the best dry dog food for your pooch.

Ask your vet questions about which brand they recommend for your breed of dog.

  • Talk to other breeders and discuss with them what they consider to be the best dry dog food.
  • Gather a selection of different opinions so that you can make an informed choice.
  • Decide on two or three brands and test them out – as you don’t just want a dog food that is nutritionally good for your pooch if they don’t like the taste.
  • Vets normally recommend a dry dog food that has been AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved including the below brands: Waltham food products, Iams, Eukanuba and Hills science diet (there are lots more. If the brand has been AAFCO approved check the label as it should have this statement on the back “formulated to meet the AAFCO dog food nutrient profile for puppies/adults/senior”
  • Remember that a dry dog food does not have to be AAFCO approved to be sold or even have to meet their requirements.
  • Sometimes making your own dog food is the best choice as at least that way you know exactly what you are feeding your dog and you can avoid nasty fillers and preservatives.
  • Make sure that any meat used is a main ingredient and not a by-product.
  • Although it is important to ask your vet’s advice, don’t fall into the trap of being pushed into purchasing the brand that they stock, as it will be more expensive.
  • Take your time choosing the right dry dog food, the higher quality brand may contain more calories but it will also contain less fillers – so although it may cost more, you will end up using less.

Below are a few reasons why you should choose the best dry dog food for your pooch and not the cheapest.

  • Dry dog food is great for your dogs teeth and gums as it is abrasive as opposed to wet food which can get stuck on the teeth (causing dental issues). Dry dog food contains lots of protein and is considered great for puppies as it has all of the essential nutrients a growing puppy needs.
  • Normally the best dog food has a mixture of ingredients including soy bean, rice and sometimes corn.

Dry dog food in more detail…

In the last few years (in the last decade) people have been finding their busy lives increasingly impacting on their lives at home. As a consequence families have been looking for ways to make their lives much easier whether this is through purchasing frozen food’s, ready meals or eating on the go. Of course this has also impacted on pet owners (specifically dog owners) looking for faster and more convenient ways to feed their pooch. So as a consequence there has been a dramatic rise in the amount of ‘complete’ dog food purchased over the counter.

When we say ‘complete’ we are referring to dry dog food that has been made through the method of incorporating cooked natural ingredients (including vegetables etc) and then mixed and rolled into a dough that is then cut, cooked and shaped into what we purchase over the counter and labeled as complete dry dog food.

Of course having dry dog food that is easy to keep, easy to prepare and is often cheaper (due to the manufacturing process) and can be stored in larger quantities is a real selling point for many dog owners, especially those who are busy and on a budget. Of course although complete dry dog food does have it’s benefits including the fact that it is cooked at very high temperatures (which kills any nasty bacteria and pathogens) it does have it’s negative side.

  • Due to the high temperatures used to cook dry food natural vitamins are often destroyed in the baking process. Of course any vitamins that are lost are then re-introduced at a later date, however synthetic vitamins are not the real thing so this could be considered a down side.
  • The use of high temperatures can also affect how the structure of proteins are formed (a process that is called denaturation). Although it is unclear how this can affect dog food some experts argue that this affect on the protein can make the food harder to digest while some experts argue the opposite.
  • There is also some evidence to suggest that as some of the raw and natural ingredients are made of protein due to this being destroyed during the baking process many dogs fed a dry dog food diet are not getting adaquete nutrients.
  • A similar thing to the denaturation of protein also happens to natural fatty acids when cooked at high temperatures. For example Omega 3 and Omega 6 can also be lost during the baking process (although both of these can be added at a later date).

So are there different types of ‘dry’ dog food? The simple answer to this is yes. Below is a brief overview of the different types:

There are a variety of different methods used to make dry dog food including Extruded, Baked, Cold Pressed and Freeze Dried. All of these methods use different techniques and each method has its fans and detractors.

Extruded dry dog food is made by mixing a variety of ingredients together to form a dough. The dough is then continually mixed and heated at high temperature (up to 150 degrees). After the pieces have been sliced they are heated again at a higher temperature so that they are crispy when eaten.

Although some manufacturers are now using lower temperatures to prepare the finished biscuits allowing more of the natural ingredients to survive the process, many are still heating the dry food up to temperatures of 200 degrees which kills off many of the beneficial nutrients. Extruded prepared dog food is one of the most popular methods used to prepare dry dog food. In fact it is used by Bakers Complete, Royal Canin and James Wellbeloved.

Baked dry dog food is actually less popular due to the gluten that is needed during the baking process. Baking the food also uses lower temperatures so an added benefit is the fact that much of the important nutrients are left intact. However, due to dogs often being wheat gluten intolerant this has reduced the popularity of baked dog food and therefore reduced it’s use by dog food manufacturers.

Cold pressed dry dog food uses the same methods as those used in extrusion although the temperatures are far lower and the moisture is often extracted and high temperatures are used in short bursts. Due to the lower temperatures much of the nutrients are kept intact.


NOTE: To Readers.

Please remember that this page is independent. When we say independent we simply mean we are not trying to sell products and we are not affiliated with any product that we do mention. That way you can guarantee we are not biased and all of the information presented on this page is impartial.

Choosing the right dry puppy food…

As we have already previously explained it’s important to remember that the best dry dog food is not always the most expensive. Below we have provided some advice on how to choose the best dry dog food for your puppy.

1. Many experts recommend a dry dog food that is meat based and has high quality protein as part of the ingredients.

2. In some pet stores or by contacting manufacturers you can request test samples of branded dog food if you are unsure which brand to go for.

3. Does the dry food swell when water is added? If it does then is very likely that your puppy’s tummy will swell too.

You can test this by adding water to the dry food. If the food does swell markedly then the puppy may become sluggish and become colicky.

4. Choose a dry puppy food with a higher amount of protein than the same brand offered to adult dogs.

5. Look at the ingredients. You do not want to feed your puppy any food that has additives. Any food you feed your puppy needs to be easy to digest.

6. Check that the food does not contain artificial food colorings as this can lead to tear duct inflammation in young puppies. Look out for a brown discharge coming out of each eye as this is a symptom of food coloring intolerance. Although tear duct inflammation can be caused by an enviromental allergic reaction if you are unsure change the food you feed your puppy and speak with your vet.

7. Only change your puppy’s food if there are any specific issues around illness. Never radically change your puppy’s food for no specific reason as although older dogs are able to cope with a wider variety of different dog foods young puppies find sudden changes more difficult to manage and can lead to fecal changes i.e. diarrhea.

8. If your puppy does develop diarrhea you need to keep a close eye on this as chronic diarrhea can lead to electrolyte changes which of left untreated can be fatal.

9. Some puppies are able to manage and assimilate food more easily than others. Of course there are some puppies in the litter that are unable to assimilate their food and don’t put on weight. Therefore you should check your puppies weight at least twice weekly.

10. Remember that puppies grow at a steady rate and some breeds will increase their weight by 60 times within one year.

Top Dog Food Tips…

Protein – You can find protein in a variety of different types of food including fish, meat, eggs and even in some dairy products. Protein is essential for growth and is a crucial source of energy for young puppies.

Vitamins and Minerals – Interestingly dogs are unable to manufacture Vitamin C inside the body (via the Liver). And although they do not need to have Vitamin C supplements some people do recommend feeding their pooch a Vitamin C supplement (speak to your vet for advice before feeding your pooch any supplements though).

Fat – Much of the protein that you feed your dog or puppy will contain some fat. For example fatty acids can be found in oily fish and nuts.

Carbohydrates – The amount of carbohydrates that should be fed to your pooch varies depending on who you speak to. You can find carbohydrates in most of the grains including rice, wheat, corn, barley wheat. Carbohydrates are often found in commercial dog foods and are useful source of energy.