A seasoned veterinarian suggests the optimal dog nutrition for adult and senior dogs, puppies, small breeds, and even dogs with sensitive stomachs.
The connection between diet and health in humans is widely acknowledged, emphasizing the importance of a balanced diet with fresh ingredients. However, when it comes to our canine companions, the question arises: What constitutes the best dog food for them?
Scientific consensus asserts that dogs require a well-rounded diet encompassing essential nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. The difficulty lies in the extensive array of products accessible in pet stores, veterinary clinics, and online platforms. This article aims to provide advice on selecting the most suitable diet for your furry companion. Detailed reviews of the current top-rated dog foods are available later in this feature, accompanied by a thorough guide to canine nutrition. For those short on time, a brief overview of the top five choices is presented below.
What are the best dog foods in 2024? At a glance
- Best dry dog food – Burns
- Best wet dog food – Harringtons
- Best puppy food – Royal Canin
- Best senior dog food – Tails.com
- Best dog food for allergies – Yora
What is the best food for dogs?
Tailoring a dog’s diet to their life stage is crucial, considering that nutritional requirements evolve as pets age. The dietary needs of a puppy vastly differ from those of a fifteen-year-old senior dog.
While it may seem plausible to prepare home-cooked meals for your dog, mirroring your own approach, ensuring it meets all their nutritional requirements is surprisingly challenging. Studies examining internet-sourced pet food recipes revealed many to be deficient in essential nutrients.
A convenient and cost-effective method to fulfill your dog’s nutritional requirements is by opting for scientifically formulated pet food. These formulations are carefully balanced by nutritionists employed by pet food manufacturers. Any pet food labeled as “complete” is legally obligated to provide all the necessary nutrients for a dog.
Given the extensive variety of dog foods available, the following recommendations are based on my veterinary expertise and insights gathered from numerous dog owners I’ve interacted with.
1. Burns Dry Dog Food
We appreciate: The incorporation of all-natural and high-quality ingredients.
* Available in 12kg bags
* This dog food is suitable for adult dogs aged 1 year and above.
* It comes in a variety of flavors, including lamb, chicken, and fish, and offers specific formulations for puppies, sensitive dogs, and those needing weight control (details below).
Opting for dry dog food, also known as “kibble,” is not only convenient but also a cost-effective way to feed dogs. However, the quality of dry food can vary significantly, with cheaper options often featuring less carefully selected ingredients, resulting in reduced palatability and a less remarkable long-term impact on the dog’s health.
Among dry dog food options, Burns stands out as a top choice due to the simplicity and high quality of its ingredients, primarily consisting of chicken and brown rice. It also offers various variants, such as duck or lamb protein options and oats as a carbohydrate source.
Skinners comes in as a close second, offering high-quality ingredients and a diverse range of nutritionally complete diets suitable for various dogs, from active and hard-working to older dogs with more sedentary lifestyles. Arden Grange and James Wellbeloved are also well-regarded brands, with many dogs thriving on their products. However, Burns is the recommended choice.
2. Harringtons Adult Wet Dog Food
We appreciate: The extensive selection of straightforward flavors.
* Additionally offered in 16x400g packs and 6x150g packs,
* This dog food is suitable for all dogs aged 8 weeks and above.
* The available flavors include chicken, salmon, turkey, duck, lamb, beef, and mixed selections.
Wet dog food, whether in tins, sachets, or aluminum-type trays, tends to be pricier and less convenient compared to dry food. However, its higher palatability makes it a preferable choice for picky eaters. Among the myriad options available, my top recommendation is Harringtons. Their range provides a diverse selection of wet foods, including chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, and salmon. These options boast simple, specific ingredients that contribute to the overall quality of the product.
In this category, other noteworthy choices include Burns, offering varieties like free-range chicken and egg, as well as wild fish and lamb. Chappie stands out as a traditional tinned dog food that has been favored by veterinarians for decades. Lily’s Kitchen presents human-kitchen type formulations such as Sunday Lunch, Cottage Pie, and Lamb Hotpot, with the added option of vegan dog food. Lastly, Butternut Box is a well-marketed, high-quality wet food sold on a home-delivery subscription basis. It tailors the precise ingredients to your pet’s needs based on your responses to an online questionnaire.
3. Royal Canin Puppy Food
We appreciate: The extensive variety tailored to specific breeds.
* Available in multiple sizes, ranging up to 15kg,
* This dog food is suitable for puppies aged 2 to 10 or 12 months, depending on the breed.
* Notably, it is not sold in specific flavors; instead, each breed has its own unique formulation.
Royal Canin stands out as a high-quality dry puppy food, offering a range of options tailored to different breeds. This allows owners to select a type of food optimized for their specific breed or type of dog from an early age.
Specifically formulated for puppies, this food contains extra protein to support the healthy development of body structures. It also includes optimized levels of essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, and iron to contribute to the formation of strong bones and teeth.
Large and giant breed dogs present an additional consideration, requiring slow and steady growth rather than rapid development. To address this, special “large breed puppy” diets are recommended. These diets provide all the necessary nutrients for the growth of large pups but with a slightly lower nutrient density, ensuring they don’t grow too quickly, which can be detrimental.
Hills and Purina Proplan are also reputable brands producing specific types of puppy food for different dogs. However, Royal Canin is often regarded as particularly well-respected in this area.
4. Tails.com Senior Dog Food
We appreciate: The comprehensive questionnaire that identifies your dog’s precise nutritional requirements.
* This product is available in daily servings of both dry and/or wet food, specially formulated for your dog.
* It is suitable for small dogs aged 9 years and older, medium dogs aged 7 years and older, and large dogs aged 5 years and older.
* The range includes formulations for puppies and other specific needs.
* Notably, it is not sold in specific flavors.
Tails.com holds a prominent position as a market leader in the home-delivered pet food sector, operating through an online subscription model. It offers both wet and dry food specifically tailored to a dog’s individual needs, likened to having a “personal chef” for your canine companion. The dishes are crafted from a variety of wholefood ingredients, including salmon, chicken, and root vegetables.
For older dogs facing specific health issues such as obesity, arthritis, or heart disease, Tails.com stands out by employing an online questionnaire. This aids in selecting the most suitable formulation for your pet, allowing for a personalized approach to address your older pet’s nutritional needs effectively.
While there are several excellent options available for older dogs, including James Wellbeloved Senior dry dog food with added Vitamin E for immune system support and the popular Burns Senior range, Tails.com stands out for its tailored approach in formulating meals for elderly pets.
We appreciate: The insect-based recipe that eliminates common dog allergens.
* Additionally offered in 6kg and 12kg bags (dry) and multipacks of 18 (wet).
* this dog food is suitable for dogs aged 12 months and above, with a specific puppy formulation also available.
* The dry option is not sold in specific flavors, while the wet variant comes in carrot and potato or apple and parsnip flavors.
My top choice for hypoallergenic dog food is the insect-based Yora pet food, available in both dry and wet formulations. One notable advantage is its sustainability and animal-welfare friendly manufacturing process, as no living creatures other than insects are used. Dog food derived from insect larvae is likely to be highly effective, given that dogs are unlikely to have been previously exposed to these proteins, reducing the likelihood of allergies.
For dogs with known allergies causing skin issues or dietary upsets, a specialized hydrolyzed diet available at veterinary clinics is the definitive way to diagnose and manage food allergies. These diets feature protein chains that are pre-digested to such a short length that they cannot stimulate an allergic immune reaction. While these products can be pricey, they are often the most effective means of diagnosing a specific food allergy.
On a less extreme level, there are hypoallergenic diets that contain a reduced number of common ingredients known to trigger allergic reactions in dogs. Dairy, beef, chicken, chicken eggs, soy, and wheat gluten are among the most common allergens, and hypoallergenic foods often avoid these ingredients. Another hypoallergenic option worth considering is Burns’ grain-free Duck and Potato, which uses proteins less likely to stimulate allergic responses.