Here’s my personal list of favorites and not-so-favorites to feed your puppy-dog, and the reasons for my choices. It's broken down into four topics: Favorites, Not-So-Favorites, Comments on Ingredients, and Other Thoughts. Within each heading the lists go alphabetically, not by ranking of my preference. The ingredient lists are not complete; since ingredient lists order the ingredients by volume, the first 10 or 15 ingredients will tell you most of what’s in a food.


Artemis Fresh Mix Adult: chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal, brown rice, pearled barley, lamb meal, oatmeal, chicken fat, flaxseed, fresh carrots, peas, apples, potatoes, cranberries, lactobacillus acidophilus, aspergillus, kelp and alfalfa.


Artemis Maximal Dog: Chicken meal, potatoes, chicken fat, chicken, flavor enhancer, tomato pomace, natural mixed tocopherols, choline chloride, dried chicory root, dried skim milk, carrots, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, spinach, cranberries…

Blue Buffalo: Deboned lamb, lamb meal, whole ground brown rice, whole ground barley, oatmeal, rye, potato flour, tomato pomace, rice protein concentrate, alfalfa, sunflower oil,  whole carrots, whole sweet potatoes, ground flax seed, menhaden fish meal, sea salt, barley grass.

Blue Wilderness: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, potato starch, turkey meal, peas, chicken fat, potatoes, tomato pomace, natural chicken flavor, flaxseed, alfalfa meal, whole carrots, whole sweet potatoes, blueberries, cranberries, barley grass…

Canidae: Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Brown Rice, White Rice, Lamb Meal, Chicken Fat, (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Ascorbic Acid), Menhaden Fish Meal, Flax Seed, Sun Cured Alfalfa Meal, Sunflower Oil, Lecithin, Brewers Yeast, Natural Flavors

Eagle Pack Holistic Select Duck Meal and Oatmeal: Duck Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Natural Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Dried Beet Pulp, Sun-Cured Alfalfa, Air Dried Peas, Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Menhaden Oil, Dried Carrots, Quinoa (Organic), Sweet Potato

Evolve: Lamb, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, ascorbic acid and Vitamin E), Chicken Digest, Rice Bran, Yogurt, Farmer's Cheese, Dried Skimmed Milk, Spinach, Green Split Peas, Tomatoes, Beets, Dried Whole Eggs, Fish Oil, Dried Brewers Yeast, Garlic, Parsley Oil, Probiotics.

Force: Dehydrated chicken, organic flaxseed, potatoes, celery, sweet potatoes, apples, alfalfa, kelp, honey, zucchini, green beans, cabbage, banana, papaya, yogurt, basil, garlic, rosemary. This is a dried food to which warm water is added. There are no grains at all in this food.

Fromm 4-Star Nutritional Duck and Sweet Potato: Duck, duck meal, pearled barley, sweet potato, brown rice, oatmeal, white rice, dried whole egg, millet, dried tomato pomace, canola oil, oat hulls, cheese, flaxseed, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, green beans, …cranberries, blueberries.

Go! Natural Grain Free: duck, chicken, turkey, herring or wild salmon, fresh peas, lentils, carrots, spinach, broccoli, garlic, potatoes, fresh apples, cranberries, blueberries, flaxseed oil, salmon oil, alfalfa and kelp.


Go! Natural Grain Free Endurance: Turkey meal, chicken meal, deboned chicken, russet potato, chicken fat, whole dried egg, salmon meal, apple, peas, natural flavor, tomato pomace, duck meal, salmon oil, flax seed oil…

Horizon Legacy Adult: Chicken, chicken meal, pea, pea starch, turkey meal, chicken fat, salmon meal, pea fiber, flaxseed, egg product, salmon oil, carrots, apples, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, blueberries…

Innova: Turkey , chicken, chicken meal, barley, brown rice, potatoes, rice, chicken fat, herring, apples, carrots, cottage cheese, sunflower oil, dicalcium phosphate, alfalfa sprouts, eggs, garlic.

Innova Evo: Turkey , chicken, turkey meal, chicken meal, potato, herring meal, chicken fat, natural flavors, eggs, potassium chloride, choline chloride, calcium carbonate, garlic, apples, carrots, tomatoes, cottage cheese, alfalfa sprouts, dried chicory root.

Karma Organic: Organic free range chicken, organic kamut, organic brown rice, organic oats, organic barley, organic rice protein, organic whole wheat, organic quinoa, organic sunflower seed meal, organic garlic, sea salt, organic butter, inulin, organic red beets, organic spinach, organic carrots, organic broccoli, organic blueberries, organic rosemary, green tea extract.

Merrick Wilderness Blend - buffalo, oatmeal, barley, salmon meal, venison, whole brown rice, potatoes, carrots, peas, dried chicken liver, apples, garlic, glucosamine and chondroitin, lactobacillus acidophilus. 

Natural Balance Ultra Premium: Chicken, Brown Rice, Duck, Lamb Meal, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley, Potatoes, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols-a source of Vitamin E, Citric Acid, and Rosemary Extract), Natural Flavor, Tomato Pomace, Canola Oil, Brewers Yeast, Lecithin, Choline Chloride, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Whole Ground Flaxseed, Dried Kelp, Salt, Parsley Flakes

Newman's Own Organic - chicken, organic barley, organic brown rice, organic oats,organic milo, organic ground flaxseed, chicken meal, organic carrots, potatoes, kelp, parsley, lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium.

Orijen Adult: Fresh deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, russet potato, fresh deboned pacific salmon, herring meal, sweet potato, peas, fresh debones lake whitefish, fresh deboned northern walleye, chicken fat, chicken liver, salmon meal, fresh deboned turkey, fresh whole eggs, fresh deboned herring…

Prairie New Zealand Venison Medley: Venison Meal, Millet, Pumpkin Seed, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Montmorillonite, Natural Flavoring, Amaranth, Quinoa, Blueberries, Cranberries, Inulin, Freeze Dried Lamb, Freeze Dried Salmon Oil, Papain, Rosemary, Sage, Fermentation Products (Prairie also has beef, chicken and lamb varieties).

Solid Gold Hund-N-Flocken: Lamb meal, ground millet, ground brown rice, ground barley, amaranth, rice bran oil, canola oil, flaxseed, rice bran, fish meal, garlic, blueberries.

Solid Gold Wolf King: Bison, Salmon Meal, Brown Rice, Millet, Cracked Pearled Barley, Oatmeal, Rice Bran, Canola Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Garlic, Amaranth, Blueberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract.

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine: Bison, venison, lamb meal, chicken meal, egg product, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes, canola oil, roasted bison, roasted venison, natural flavor, tomato pomace, ocean fish meal, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries…

Wellness CORE: Deboned turkey, deboned chicken, turkey meal, chicken meal, potatoes, dried ground potato, tomato pomace, natural chicken flavor, canola oil, chicken liver, flaxseed, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, spinach, parsley, apples, blueberries…

Wellness Super 5 Mix: Chicken, ground barley, oatmeal, rye flour, menhaden fish meal, white fish, ground brown rice, ground millet, canola oil (preserved with rosemary, vitamins C & E), flax seed, amaranth, whole sweet potatoes, whole apples, whole blueberries, peas, carrots, whole clove garlic, alfalfa leaf. This food is baked, not extruded. Organic sources are used when possible.


Purina Beneful: (may take the prize for the MOST not-so-favorite!) Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, beef tallow preserved with mixed-tocopherols, rice flour, beef, soy flour, sugar, sorbitol, tricalcium phosphate, water, animal digest, salt

Beowulf: Pork meal, ground corn, chicken fat, oatmeal, brown rice, dried tomato pomace, dried whole eggs, fish meal, natural flavors, cheese meal, alfalfa meal…fish oil, canola oil

Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul: Chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal, whole grain brown rice, whole grain white rice, oatmeal, potatoes, cracked pearled barley, millet, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), duck, salmon, egg product, flaxseed, natural chicken flavor, kelp, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, chicory root extract, carrots, peas, apples, dried skim milk, cranberry powder, rosemary extract, parsley flake

Dad’s Chunx: Ground yellow corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal (source of beef flavor), animal fat (preserved with BHA), dried beet pulp, brewers dried yeast, salt, poultry digest, dried whey

Eukanuba: Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Fish Meal (source of fish oil), Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of vitamin E, and Citric Acid), Brewers Rice, Natural Chicken Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp (sugar removed), Dried Egg Product.

Iams: Chicken, corn meal, sorghum, chicken by-product meal, barley, chicken fat, fish meal.

Kibbles ‘n Bits: Corn, soybean meal, ground wheat flour, beef and bone meal, animal fat, corn syrup, wheat middlings, water, animal digest, propylene glycol

Nutro Natural Choice: Lamb Meal, Ground Rice, Rice Flour, Rice Bran, Soybean Oil, Sunflower Oil, Poultry Fat, Natural Flavors, Rice Gluten.

Pedigree: Ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, animal fat, wheat mill run.

Purina Dog Chow: Ground yellow corn, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, beef tallow preserved with mixed-tocopherols (source of Vitamin E), brewers rice, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, malted barley flour, salt, animal digest. This product has very little in the way of reasonable protein; also has lots of fillers and artificial flavors and preservatives.

Purina One Chicken Formula: Chicken, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, wheat, beef tallow.

Purina Pro-Plan: Chicken, brewers rice, whole grain wheat, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, beef tallow preserved with mixed-tocopherols (source of Vitamin E), whole grain corn, corn bran, fish meal, natural flavors, egg product.   Better than dog chow in the protein department but still has too many fillers and not the best protein sources.

Triumph: Chicken Meal, Ground Brewers Rice, Ground Yellow Corn, Animal Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Corn Gluten Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Calcium Carbonate, Ground Whole Flax

Wysong: Chicken, Ground Corn, Ground Wheat, Ground Brown Rice, Ground Oat Groats, Poultry Fat, Ground Extruded Whole Soybeans, Dried Whey, Salt, Yeast Culture, Lecithin, Natural Extractives of Cloves, Sage, and Rosemary, Dried Kelp, Garlic, Black Pepper, Artichoke


Amaranth: a very ancient grain, used 8000 years ago by the Aztecs. The seeds are flat and have a nutty taste, and can be used in breads, pasta, etc.  The leaves can also be eaten. Amaranth has an excellent nutritional profile, including a high protein content.

Animal Digest: made up of animal tissues, such as poultry or beef, that have been mixed together, heated and broken down with a digestive enzyme imparting a distinct flavor, thus giving it the term animal digest. Many pet food companies use animal digest to increase the palatability of their dog foods. If the food is of high enough quality, this would not be necessary. Many dog foods also have flavorings or oil sprayed onto the outer coat of the pieces of kibble to increase palatability. Again, in a high quality food, this is unnecessary.

Animal Fat: what animal? Researchers are suggesting that animal fat may cause an increase in breast cancer in human women. Animal fat also goes rancid more quickly than vegetable fats, so they require more preservatives.

Beef Tallow: tallow is simply fat, melted and separated from the other parts of the animal.

Brewer’s Rice: the broken grains of white rice.  Since white rice is missing 75% of its nutrients, the nutritional value provided from this product is questionable.

Canola Oil: I have serious issues with canola oil, which is short for ‘Canadian oil’. There is much controversy over canola oil and whether or not it is a healthy oil. Opponents of canola oil claim that it has been used for years as a light industrial lubricating oil, that it is genetically engineered rapeseed oil, which is a member of the mustard family (it was also the source of mustard gas), that it has been classified as a biopesticide because no insects will eat it. It has been linked in Europe as the suspected causative agent for Scrapie in cattle. It is a transfatty acid, or a partially hydrogenated oil, which has been linked to cancer in humans. However, as of 1998, the EPA states that no studies have been done on toxicity in humans. Proponents of the oil claim that it is very healthy. But because of all the controversy, I’d stay away from canola oil! There are many other healthy oils to choose from, and dogs tend to do well with animal oils.

Chicken by-product meal: chicken by-product meal varies a lot in its content; lower quality products contain a higher amount of bone and feathers. This means you should be confident in the quality of the company from which you are buying to ensure your chances of getting a good by-product meal source in your food.

Corn, Wheat, Soy: three of the four top food allergens in dogs. They are also a poor source of protein for dogs, as they are difficult to digest.  I try to avoid these any time possible.

Corn gluten meal: Corn gluten meal is a by-product from the manufacture of corn starch and corn syrup. It is very high in protein supplement in feeds for livestock, poultry and pets.  It has poor palatability at a high protein level.

Ethoxyquin: an artificial preservative. Before the FDA approved ethoxyquin, it was characterized as a poison. The makers of ethoxyquin state it is a hazardous chemical, stating that ethoxyquin may cause skin and eye problems as well as kidney and liver problems.  It is classed as a pesticide for food and vegetation. Feeding studies in rats showed that it caused transient depression in growth rate. Autopsies showed damage to kidneys, liver and thyroid gland in many of the male rats but not in the females. In other studies, it produced renal lesions and tumors in some of the animals. Toxicity in chicks was greater when the diet was low in protein, according to another study. Ethoxyquin apparently remains in the body for a long time. It is not used in human foods.

Fish Meal: Menhaden fish, from the Atlantic coastal waters from Maine to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico . The fish are ground, cooked and processed. It is usually stabilized with an antioxidant such as ethoxyquin to prevent the fish oil from becoming rancid.

Inulin: This is a nondigestible fiber which is a prebiotic that helps promote the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, the "good" bacteria in the colon. It serves as food for these organisms.

Meat and bone meal: the dried and rendered product from mammal tissues. It does not contain horn, hair, hide trimmings, manure, stomach contents, added blood meal or poultry by-product. It is not very palatable. Some companies consider this a protein source; there is little usable protein in meat and bone meal.

Poultry by-product meal: This is a combination of all poultry by-products processed together in the same proportions as they occur in the processing plant. Composition can be quite variable, depending upon what is being included.

Propylene Glycol: used to make antifreeze and de-icing solutions for cars, airplanes, and boats; to make polyester compounds; and as solvents in the paint and plastics industries. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies propylene glycol as an additive that is "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. It absorbs extra water and maintains moisture in some medicines, cosmetics, and foods (as a solvent for colors and flavors). It is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and on stage.

Sorghum: also called “milo”, this is a drought-resistant grain that is native to Africa . It is higher in protein and lower in fat than corn, and is gluten-free. Most of the world’s sorghum is grown in the USA but most of the USA ’s consumption of sorghum is for livestock feed, while worldwide, 50% of sorghum is consumed by humans.

Soybean Meal: the product remaining after extracting most of the oil from whole soybeans. The oil may be removed by solvent extraction or by an expeller process in which the beans are heated and squeezed. Soybean meal is high in protein and energy and is one of the most commonly used protein supplements. It is a palatable feedstuff. Soybeans have also, however, been found to have a naturally high toxin content. These toxins have been shown to inhibit the digestion of protein, causing gastric dysfunction and distress. It also may lead to decreased sexual function in humans, as well as decreased thyroid function and cancers. Soybeans are highly genetically modified, and they contain one of the highest pesticide levels in any food.

Tomato Pomace:  the dried mixture of tomato skins, pulp and crushed seeds that result from the processing of tomatoes for juice, soup, and ketchup. It contains protein, is a good source of vitamin B and an average source of Vitamin A. It is used as a source of dietary fiber, to produce firm stools.

Wheat middlings: a source of carbohydrates. A co-product of milling wheat for flour is mill feed, mill run, or wheat middlings, which generally include screenings, bran, germ, and flour remnants (i.e., including floor sweepings).


Multiple protein and grain sources give your dog the best chance of getting all the amino acids and fats he or she needs.  Multiple sources also minimize the chance of your dog developing a food hypersensitivity. Food sensitivities develop from feeding your dog the same few ingredients over and over with minimal variety. When paired with other stressors, the body is thrown out of balance and all sorts of illnesses and compromises in the immune system can occur.

Dogs do NOT need carbohydrates to survive. There is NO requirement in their diet for carbohydrates. They can, however, utilize carbohydrates as energy. The fewer the carb and/or grain sources in your food, the better I would consider it to be.

A well-nourished dog is not only more physically healthy, but also more *psychologically* healthy.  They might be calmer if fed foods that don't have added sugars (think "pre-schoolers after eating all that Halloween candy").

I want to know what the source of protein is. I don’t like vague words like ‘animal digest’ or ‘poultry meal’…there are many types of poultry. Usually critics will claim that these sorts of protein sources come from dying and diseased animals, and other parts of the animals that are not fit for human consumption.

I want to feed my dogs foods that I would eat.

It is best to look for a food that is baked, as opposed to ‘extruded’. Extrusion is a cooking process which uses very high temperatures and in which any vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other neutraceuticals and enzymes are rendered useless. Many experts believe that the best food for a dog is fresh raw food. The less a food is cooked, the more beneficial it is to the dog.

While it is difficult to prove that a food is completely free of preservatives, or that all ingredients are organic, I want to find a company who makes an effort to use such ingredients. Many meats come to the processing plants already treated with preservatives like BHA and BHT; this is problematic because the dog food company does not need to list it in the ingredients because they did not add it. Talk about misleading labeling!

If you want more information on food allergies and intolerances, check out these awesome websites: and 

Feeding your dog canned food is no longer considered to be the ‘bad’ thing it once was thought. Canned foods have fewer grains (grains are very helpful as an aide to forming the kibble shape), and the canning process IS the preservative in cans. It used to be said that the chewing of kibble helped to keep teeth clean. It is now believed that small pieces of kibble get stuck between the teeth and gums and cause dental issues; canned food is less likely to do that. Feeding canned food IS more expensive, but it does have its benefits, so don’t rule it out.

Feeding our dogs a raw diet is becoming more popular and the benefits have been proven. Chronic conditions such as allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, dry skin and coat, and kidney/bladder issues have been improved, eliminated or prevented by feeding raw. It may seem to be a daunting task to undertake at first, but there are many resources available. There are even prepared frozen raw diets available. Some of these include:  Nature's Variety Prairie, in chicken, beef, lamb and venison; Primal in turkey, lamb and beef; Bravo in many varieties; Aunt Jeni's homemade Raw Diet, Northwest Naturals and Raw Advantage.

        Natural Nutrition For Dogs and Cats, by Kymythy Schultze is an easy-to-understand guide for planning a raw diet suitable for your dog or cat's needs and requirements.

        Give Your Dog A Bone by Ian Billinghurst has some different ideas to offer. Dr. Billinghurst was a pioneer in advocating raw diets for our companion animals.

       Some excellent websites to visit: - wonderful info for those who are new to feeding raw. - Dr. Billinghurst's website - recipes and general information


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