What is the best dog food?
by Ben Brooks, Ph.D.
I have had this question numerous times over the years. The real question is “what is the best dog food for my dog?” That is a subtle different question. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and income brackets. What you choose is dependent on those factors. In this article, the primary information is from my personal interactions with the numerous vets I interact with both personally and professionally.
I used to recommend dogfoodadvisor.com to help make the choice. I have been very vocal in their support. Recently, however, I have had to back off that recommendation. The FDA has recommended against feeding your dogs a grain-free diet including raw/boutique diets due to dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM (podcast here, FDA Warning here). Dogfoodadvisor.com still recommends grain-free products, which is irresponsible in my opinion. It has caused me to question the entire evaluation process at the site. Having said that, I still think there is good information there to help make good decisions by category, and that is where I still reluctantly go to get information.
Most importantly, under no circumstance should you be feeding your dog a grain-free diet right now. We don’t know enough right now and the consequence if you choose wrong is death. Even supplementing a grain-free diet with vitamins (e.g. taurine) is not recommended right now by veterinary cardiologist (see Dogs in the News podcast with Washington State Vet, Lynn Nelsonand Tufts University Vet Lisa Freeman). In my personal conversations with these experts, we still haven’t figured things out. We used to think it was taurine due to the long history of taurine deficiency causing DCM (mainly in cats). However, this may not be the case. Again, we don’t know enough. GET YOUR DOGS OFF GRAIN FREE AND RAW NOW until we know more.
So what do we like? We like to feed our dogs based on value, meaning I don’t want to break the bank (or be snobby) but I do want to give them healthy food. So, we feed our dog’s Kirkland Signature sold at Costco and TLC. We rotate between the different types of food at Costco. I also mix TLC into the rotation. TLC is rated as high (4 stars) as the Kirkland but costs twice as much. We will also supplement with yogurt, bone broth, and other inexpensive, unprocessed meat (e.g. chicken drumsticks) we find at the grocery store. So about ¼ to 1/3 of their diet is unprocessed. We supplement as well but that will be the subject of our next blog post! I will also tackle the issue of raw diets coming up. Please feel free to reach out with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.