Choosing the best food for your dog can be a very difficult decision to make.
(Reviewed and Updated)
There is such a large variety of types, brands, and prices that my mind spins when I walk down the pet isle. I think I actually put more thought into my dogs food that what I do for my own consumption. Here’s the thing, I’ve done all the research so you don’t have to.
In this little write up I will introduces you to the vast array of dog foods there is to offer. I will determine the best dog food for your dog if money is no problem, I will also look at the best options for those of us who are on a budget.
When considering a dogs dietary needs there are a couple of things to look for a some to avoid.
When looking at a bag of dog food look for a nutritional guarantee from the producer, you want to see a bag that has two big main ingredients like ‘ostrich and rice’ or ‘game and rice’. You want ot see the main source of protein and the main source of grain.
What you should look for:
Proteins: You want to ensure that the major source of nutrition in your dogs food is meat protein you want to see atleast 20% protein. It needs to be a named meat like chicken, ostrich, beef, etc. If the bag just says ‘meat protein’ or ‘meat meal’ your getting the crap that is scraped off the floor at the end of the day.
Grains: Can also be called carbohydrates, but there needs to be a named grain. These are an important part of a dogs diet. You want to look for rice more than maize and preferably one with less than 5% GMO grains in it.
Vegetables: This is also a great addition to your dogs meal. Any vegetables will be good for your dog.
These three main ingredients should be listed in the top 3 on the dog food bag. They always list the ingredients from highest percentage to lowest.
Things to avoid in your dogs food:
Meat by products: Now don’t get me wrong here, ‘lamb by-products/meal’ or chicken by-products/meal’ are perfectly fine. By-products are just what’s left over like the bones, organs and so on, they get ground up and added to the food. what you don’t want is ‘meat by-products/meal’ like I said previously this could literally mean anything. For all we know a gang is grinding up members of a rival gang or something. Make sure the by-products are named!
A generic fat source: The same goes as stated above.
Sweeteners: Xylitol is a sweetener that has come under major attention recently. I highly doubt you will see this in your dogs food but if you like giving your dogs peanut butter or human treats, make sure this is not in it. Propylene glycol is a sweetener that has been found in dog foods and if you see it in yours choose a different brand.
Artificial colours, flavours and preservatives: BHA and BHT,Propyl galate, Ethoxyquin, Potassium Bromate, Acesulfame Potassium or Acesulfame-K, Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Brown Sugar / Sugar/ Molasses. Additional items to be wary of: Corn gluten meal, wheat flour and wheat gluten meal, ground yellow corn, sugar glycerin, anything preserved with BHA, soybean meal, artificial flavors, glyceryl monostearate, and any added colors or dyes as reviewed above.
This article tells you all about them.
Basically You shouldn’t be expecting there to be any sweeteners, artificial colourants, floavours and preservatives in your dogs food. There is really no need for it. If your dog doesn’t like the food add something your dog does like to it, like raw egg, some raw mince meat, or even just some milk.
Now that we have covered all these goods and bads for dog foods lets see how many options we have in SA.
Field + forest
Then you have the basic pet foods from spar, pick ‘n pay, checkers and alike.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it gives you some sort of idea of what we are dealing with here.
I will compare the basic adult dog food from each brand, taking into consideration costs, nutritional value and ease of access.
Firstly, the variety is huge, some dog food you are paying over R200 a kg for. The cheaper dog food is somewhere around R18 a kg.
So lets look at what your dog actually needs nutrition wise. Please note that not every dog is the same and many dogs will have specific nutritional needs, please consult with your vet before buying your dog food.
A standard small to medium breed dog with an adult weight of roughly 15 kgs will need the following daily nutrition:
calories: 922 kilocalories
vitamins and minerals: +- 5g
These figures obviously vary according to your dogs specific metabolism, the amount of energy it uses per day, its size and its age.
The Top 5 dog foods that stick out for me (in no particular order) are: Purina Pro Plan Montego Karoo Adult Enerpets Performer Ideal Adult dog food Amigo
My reasons for these positions are as follows:
For the top 5:
Purina– This is an American based company which means that they are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. They therefore have a good protein to grain ratio, and very little ash content which most companies use as a filler basically. I do think that the moisture content in the feed is unnecessarily high as well as the protein content. Basically your paying an arm and a leg for stuff that your dog won’t actually use. They are a great feed if you can afford it though.
Montego- This is a South African company that is making us proud. It has a really good protein percentage, a good amount of fats and low in ash. It also impresses me that they are clear about what is in the dog food, which means that they aren’t trying to hide anything. They do have a high moisture content which is just adding weight which you end up paying for. Their price is pretty good too which is around about R30 a kg.
Enerpet- Another South African company is seemingly doing well with their production of dog food. Their protein, fat and moisture content are reasonable. I did battle to find all nutritional info on their website and the ash content in the food is quite high. Not a bad dog food for the price.
Ideal- Is priced right, for as little as R13 a kg, it is the most reasonably priced dog food in the top 5. The protein content is good and they list all the amino acids present in the food which is something no-one else does and is very interesting. The fat content is low and ash content is on the upper scale. They don’t list the grain content or the specific animal by-products they use, which for me is a big red flag.
Amigo– I have recently gained more information for this dog food and I am pleasantly surprised at their product. With the price of the adult dog food being around R40 a kg for a large bag it is in the upper cost range and could be classified as a premium product. It is still half the price of Hills pet food and the same/ greater quality. The owner is very transparent about this food and offers free tours around their manufacturing plant in the cape. The source of the protein content is good and the amount of protein, ash and fat are all good. Given this new information I am very impressed with this dog food.
I need to make this absolutely clear. The best method to choose a food for your dog is to ask your veterinarian. and then get a second opinion from a canine nutritionist. However, here are some general tips to help you decide what should go into your dog’s food bowl:
-Select diets with real, recognizable, whole-food ingredients. If the majority of listed ingredients is unfamiliar to you, find another diet.
-Select a low-calorie diet. Most adult, indoor, spayed or neutered dogs have low energy requirements.
-Many say that you should feed your dog the highest quality food you can afford.
If I could leave you with a few words of advise it would be this:
- Select dog food that list at least 90% of the ingredients. no really, add up the percentages on the nutritional info listed on the bag. You will be shocked at how many only tell you about 50% of the ingredients.
- Select the food that is clearly from a name protein source like ‘chicken’ or ‘lamb’
- Don’t get dog food with high maize, ash and moisture contents.
- If there are artificial flavourants, preservatives and colourants steer well clear.
The next time you are looking for dog food choose from the following 5 brands according to what you can afford.
If you are paying for brands like Hills, Royal canin, Eukanuba, Orijen and Acana you are paying for good qualities dog foods. Granted there may be dogs that could do with these foods specifically which would be up to your vet to decide, but for the average dog will be well nourished and happy with my choices.