- Best Dry Dog Food – Ingredients in Dog Food
- Best Dry Dog Food – Protein in Dog Food – Why is it important?
- Best Dry Dog Food – Dog Food Label – What does it mean?
- Best Dry Dog Food – How To Compare Dog Foods? (Dry Kibble)
- Best Dry Dog Food – Only 15% of dog foods in the USA/Canada qualify as High Protein/Low Carb. Take this is the list of Dry Dog Foods to the store. You will only find this information here on our site. We link to the feeds so you can find them – Easy! To qualify: they must be over 30% protein/under 43% carbs on a dry matter basis.
- Dog Calories A Day – How many calories does my dog need in a single day?
- Dog Calories A Day – Easy Chart
- Dog Calories A Day – Various Stages
- Dog Calories A Day – To Gain or Lose Weight – Its Easy
- Dog Calories A Day – Total Calories a Day
Best Dry Dog Food – Ingredients in Dog Food ^
There are many ingredients in dog food. It is important to understand the label in order to make the right decision for your dog. The 11 possible items in your dog’s food.
- Meat – Several categories:
- Plain Meat – Listed as beef, turkey, chicken, pork, salmon, or lamb. At times, listed as deboned, especially when regarding fish products: deboned salmon, deboned flounder, but also see as deboned turkey, deboned chicken.
- Meat Meal – Listed a pork meal, beef meal, ocean fish meal, and salmon meal.
- Organs – Listed as lamb liver, chicken liver…
- Broth – Listed as chicken broth, turkey broth…
- By-Products – Listed as Meat By-Products
- Plants: Fruits, Vegetables
- Commonly seen – Peas, corn, rice, oats, carrots, potato
- Fruits – Cranberry, blueberry, banana, tomato, pears, apples
- Others seen on labels: Spinach, parsnips, avocado, pumpkin, parsley, celery, millet, beet, chicory root, sweet potato, alfalfa, broccoli, fennel, peppermint, lavender, flax meal, marigold, yucca, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic
- Probiotics/Prebiotics: Enterococcus, Bacillus, Aspergillus, Lactobacillus.
- Minerals Added: Zinc, Iron (Ferrous), Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Selenite (Selenium), Calcium, Phosphorous
- Salts: Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Kelp, Kelp Meal
- Glucosamine, Chondroitin: added or from ground up animal cartilage.
- Fats/Oils: Fish oil (Salmon Oil, Herring Oil…), Sunflower Oil, Chicken Fat
- Vitamins Added: Vitamin E (Tocopherols), Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin B12, Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid), Vitamin B7 (Biotin), Vitamin C (Ascorbic), Choline, Niacin, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin D3, Vitamin A.
Best Dry Dog Food – Protein in Dog Food – Why is it important? ^
- The content of your dog’s food will determine their health and the protein level/quality of that food is very important.
- Muscle – is mostly protein. Muscle is the biggest user of Insulin, so the more muscle, the less circulating Insulin, hence the less fat and inflammation being created in your dog’s body. The more muscle, the more they move, which again (exercise) lowers Insulin and helps with joint health. Joints that move regularly and supported by surrounding muscle will function better.
- Organ function in the body – liver, kidney, heart, and intestine are also mostly protein.
- Hair Coat – hair is mostly protein – a good quality protein source will help their coat – skin disease is the #1 reason people have to go to the Veterinarian.
- Food Movement – protein helps:
- Slow the exit of food out of the stomach – a “trickle” effect which helps your dog feel fuller longer.
- Helps with Magnesium absorption in the intestine – Magnesium can help nerve, muscle, and also assists in keeping Insulin low.
- Protein helps in keeping the immune system strong – antibodies are made of mostly protein. Bacterial infections make Insulin go up, creating more Insulin Resistance and more weight. As you know, when you are sick, infections make joints ache and you move less. Dogs that are sick, weak, or debilitated need extra protein.
- Click here to see how much protein is in your dog’s dry food, Go to the “What’s in my Dog Food?” section. We show you all the important numbers. See if what you are using is any good!
- The amount of protein is not the only thing that matters in the diet – the quality of the protein is also important. Your dog’s food has two sources of protein:
- Animal Protein
- Plant Protein
General: Your dog’s protein is made up of links of amino acids. Your dog can synthesize 12 of these amino acids in their own body, but they need to get the other 10 from food. These are called essential amino acids. So, the dog needs 22 amino acids with the 12 they can make as well as the 10 they cannot make.
The food they eat must have these 10 amino acids, the minerals, and the vitamins to be able to make the other 12 in their own body.
Each food has a biological value – that is the number assigned to a food from the amount of usable amino acids.
- Egg is the top food biological value at 100.
- Fish meal is close behind at 92.
- Beef is 78, soybean meal is 67, other meats at 50, and corn is at 45.
- Hair/feathers are high in protein but very low in biological value.
The protein amount also does not take into account the quality, also known as digestibility.
High quality protein is 70-80% digestible and will have lots of amino acids absorbed into circulation. Poor quality protein is 60% or less digestible – you could have a high percentage of protein in the diet but half of it could be going in the mouth and out the other end with no value to your dog. In addition, it is an economic drain to you the owner. Remember, at the same time, very expensive dog food or very cheap dogs foods can have little to no difference in protein levels or protein quality.
- The content of your dog’s food will determine their health and the protein level/quality of that food is very important.
Animal and Plant Protein
As you see in “What’s that label on my dog food mean,” the weight of the most prevalent ingredients listed #1 and descends from there, know that the first 8 ingredients, make up about 90% of what is in there. Items at the end are in very small amounts (the other 10%).
- Highest quality proteins will have the most meat or the meat “meal”. For Example: Chicken or chicken meal, Salmon or salmon meal, Beef or beef meal, Turkey or turkey meal, Pork or pork meal.What is meal? Let’s use Chicken Meal. According to AAFCO: “Dry rendered product of clean flesh/skin without accompanying bone, derived from whole carcasses of chicken, exclusive of feathers/head/feed/entrails.”Ok, so deboned chicken, put in a stew pot and simmered to a 10% moisture level. Why is this important? Chicken meat is 70% water and 5% fat, 20% approximate protein. But the meal removes a lot of water (from 70% down to 10%) so the protein level is concentrated to 65% (tripled) and the fat level goes up to 12%.When you see chicken meal, beef meal, salmon meal….this is higher protein than the plain chicken, plain beef, or plain salmon.
- The next highest quality proteins have generic meals. Meat meal is a mix of different meats of varying percentages. Fish meal is a mix of different fish of varying percentages.
Example: Turkey + Chicken = Meat Meal
Example: Salmon + Herring = Fish Meal
These are NOT as high quality due to types of meats can change day to day and amounts of each one in meal can change. One week Salmon and Herring, next week Salmon and Cod. One week 50:50, next week 80:20.
- By Products – the next step down on quality/digestibility. Example: Beef By Product, Chicken By Product.
- Broths – Chicken Broth, Beef Broth – Flavorings of little protein content.
- Egg – Excellent protein source – if it is there, it is a good sign.
- Chicken Fat – also a good product – high in Omega’s – it is also in your own Chicken Soup – safe, tasty, nutritional value.
- Organs – Chicken liver, Lamb liver – for example, excellent sources of protein.
Plant Protein is the second source of protein in your dog’s food.
The most common, high protein plant-based protein in dog food is peas. Excellent protein but often is a small portion of the diet. Usually 5th or lower on the ingredient list. Another excellent source of protein from plants is flax seed (must be ground or in a meal). See Flax Section. Consider adding ground flax to your dog’s food each day. It is the #1 source of omegas (even over fish oil) and very high in protein. Another, and popular, plant with high protein is soybean meal. It is often seen in dog foods due to approximately 40% protein, so it can raise levels up. Best to have several meat proteins seen prior to seeing on label, but it is a high source of Lysine amino acid.
Most other plants added (vegetables/fruits) can have good mineral, vitamin, and carbohydrates but are low in protein.
Real Dog Food Examples (Kibbles = Dry Food).
A. Good – Top 4 Ingredients Listed B. Not the best choices for overweight, pre-diabetic, diabetic, or older dogs – Top 4 Ingredients Listed
- Organic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Chicken Fat. Dry Matter: 30% Protein
- Turkey, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Peas, Salmon. Dry Matter: 33% Protein
- Deboned Turkey Meat, Turkey Meal, Flax Meal, And Salmon Meal. Dry Matter: 42% Protein
- Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Meal, Meat Meal, Soybean Meal. Dry Matter: 24% Protein
- Corn, Soybean Meal, Beef Meal, Ground Wheat, Corn Syrup. Dry Matter: 23% Protein
- Cereal Food, Meat Meal, Chicken By-Products, Corn Gluten Meal. Dry Matter: 30% Protein.
Winner: Higher quality protein, Higher amount of protein.
Best Dry Dog Food – Dog Food Label – What does it mean? ^
- The labels on dry (also called Kibble) or wet (canned or foil packs) are set up in a specific way. The AAFCO (Association of Animal Feed Control Officials) is in charge of specific guidelines that your pet food providers adhere to in order to provide you, the owner, with consistent information. AAFCO: “Label of pet food is highly regulated on a federal and state level” and “certain items which must be included on product labels”.
- Eight required items on each pet food product label
- Name of product and brand. Example: Rover’s Beef and Chicken Nuggets
- Name of species – Dog. Example: Rover’s Dog Beef and Chicken Nuggets
- Quantity statement: Net weight or net volume. Example: 10 pound bag (also in grams)
- Ingredients list: Is listed in order of predominance by weight on an “as formulated” basis. AAFCO: “The ingredients that make up the highest percentage of the total weight as it goes into the products are listed first.” Example: Turkey meat, Turkey meal, Flax meal, Salmon meal are the first 4 ingredients in a product. So the weight of the Turkey meat is more than the weight of the Turkey meal, and the weight of the Turkey meal is more weight than the weight of the Flax meal. So items at the end of the list are in very small amounts. If you look at this list, the first eight items by weight will make up about 80-90% of what is in the bag.
- Guaranteed Analysis: List of percentage of each nutrient. Minimum crude protein, crude fat, maximum % crude fiber, maximum moisture % (water). There are other items included such as minerals, vitamins to support claims by the company or adhere to state regulations. Example Calcium%. The term “crude” regarding protein or fat has no bearing on quality. It is only a term used in testing. The product could have a high quality or low quality protein/fat and it is still called crude.
- Nutritional adequacy statement – for life stages. Example: Puppy or Adult
- Feeding directions – Example: 3 cups a day to a 50 pound dog.
- Manufacturer Information: Address, Phone.
These 8 items are required on all dog food labels.
- The calorie count in some states is required or desired, so most companies will also have this information on the label. You will see it as “ME” (Metabolic Energy) and then to numbers after: Example:
- The first number is kilocalories (Kcal) per kilogram. So 1 kilogram is about 2.2 pounds, so it is the Kcals in 2.2 pound of the dog food as presented in the bag or can.
- The second number is the Kilocalories per cup volume, with the cup being a standard 8 oz. (240 ml) baking cup found in the kitchen for making brownies. This is more helpful in determining how much to feed your dog.
- A Kilocalorie is also known as a calorie.
- How much to feed your dog will be determined by this ME calorie number.
Click here to see Calories a day your dog needs – We made a simple chart – EASY!
Dry versus Wet
- The biggest difference between dry (kibble) or wet (canned or in foil bag) is the % of maximum moisture (water). Most dry food is approximately 10% maximum moisture while the amount of maximum moisture varies in wet foods, usually from 78% to 80%.
- With dry dog food, the first 8 ingredients make up 80-90% of the contents while due to the added weight of more water in the canned products, the first 4 ingredients make up 80-90% of the contents. With canned, really look at the first 4 ingredients. It could be more than ½ of the can’s contents.
- The levels of protein and fat on the labels differ widely between dry and wet dog foods. Dry dog foods in most cases have over 22% protein and 15% fat, while these numbers are much lower in the wet foods, but only due to the water content diluting out the number. Many canned foods when converted to a dry matter basis have higher levels of protein/fat than dry food.
*To compare dry dog foods to wet dog foods must do it on a dry matter basis and not what is on the label – the actual numbers are higher than the guaranteed analysis numbers on the can.
AAFCO sets nutritional standards required but does not test the dog food and generate the numbers on the can. The pet food manufacturer does the test.
Due to recalls, the problems with melamine poisoning a few years ago, and recent chicken jerky creating over 3600 sick dogs, 600 dead dogs, the FDA is going to inspect plants more often here in the USA and at overseas plants. Editor of Pet Food Industry said most plants already have adopted the new rules and more and more are not accepting Chinese imports of ingredients.
There are only limited AAFCO guidelines on dog foods content on Guaranteed Analysis.
Growth/Reproduction Adult Minimum Crude Protein 22 18 Crude Fat 8 5
These levels are the minimum required in most foods.
Best Dry Dog Food – How To Compare Dog Foods? (Dry Kibble) ^
We need four numbers to determine how much to feed your dog and to see the best choices. Remember, in the final determination, it is these numbers PLUS looking at the ingredients.
Good Guaranteed Analysis on dry matter basis along with good ingredients = the best choice.
On the label is the Guaranteed Analysis of the percentage of protein, fats, and moisture, along with the kilocalories per cup of good as it is in the bag.
How to directly compare dog foods (dry)?
Dry dog foods are not all dry. They have to have some moisture to hold the kibble form. If it was 100% dry, it would have the consistency of powder. Moisture on the label equals the amount of water in the food. Most dry dog foods are 10% moisture, but it varies, so you have to know that number to compare apples to apples. You can’t, by looking at the label, compare Food A at 11% moisture to Food B at 8% moisture because moisture affects the 1. Protein Level, 2. Carbohydrate Level, and 3. Fat Level in the dog food.
So to compare these feeds of different moisture, you convert the protein, fat, and carbo estimate into a “dry matter basis”.
Dry Matter Basis?
Yes, if you removed all the water, what would these numbers be? This allows you to now compare apples to apples. For example, a feed with 10% moisture will have a higher true dry matter basis protein level than an 8% moisture feed, even if the label proteins were the same.
Food A – Moisture 10% Food B – Moisture 8% On Label the Protein Level is: 32% 32% Dry Matter Basis 35.55% 34.78%
Once you remove the moisture, the percentage of protein is higher for all the feeds, but Food A’s protein level on an apples to apples dry matter basis is higher.
So how to convert my label to a dry matter basis?
Divide the Fat and Protein numbers by the % dry matter in the feed:
Example of a Label:
Let’s make up a name of “Lucky Dog”
Protein – 32%
Fat – 19%
Moisture – 10%
Ok, so 10% moisture, so 100% – 10%=90% dry matter.
32 ÷ 9 = % dry matter protein = 35.55%
19÷ 9 = % dry matter fat = 21.11%
So, 35.55 + 21.11=56.66% of diet is fat + protein.
Click here to see that we did all the math for you – See the Comparison Chart of Good Choices.
What about Carbohydrates?
Dog food does NOT require giving a carbohydrate level – Surprising!
Do we have to estimate carb levels? Yes.
100 – 55.66 = 43.34% = carbs, filler, vitamins, minerals, probiotics.
Estimate about 8% in fillers, vitamins, minerals:
43.34% – 8% = 35.34% dry matter carbohydrates
So this “Lucky Dog” food is good. Hi protein, low carbs.
Let’s do another example with a product I will call “Dumpy Dog” food.
Protein – 24%
Fat – 13%
Moisture – 10%
24 ÷ 9 = 26.67% Dry Matter Protein
13 ÷ 9 = 14.44% Dry Matter Fat
26.67 + 14.44 – 8 = Dry Matter Carbs of 50.89%
Uh oh! Over 50% in carbs. Your dog can’t stay healthy on this unbalanced diet and will never lose weight on it.
Compare on the Dry Matter Basis!
“Lucky Dog” Food “Dumpy Dog” Food Protein 35.55 26.67 Fat 21.11 14.44 Carbs 35.34 50.89
So you see why “Lucky Dog” is better. These foods could have the same calories in a cup, but one is going to help your dog and one is going to keep your dog overweight, joint painful, and feeling older than it should.
“Lucky Dog” is 33% more protein and a huge 44% less in carbs. We want you to feed “Lucky Dog” like foods.
“Lucky Dog” type dry kibbles: Higher Protein, Lower Carbohydrates than regular dog food.
We made it EASY
- All the numbers below have already been converted to dry matter basis, so you are comparing apples to apples – EASY.
- All foods have the calorie count right next to the dry matter converted numbers. We are the only site in the world doing this to make it EASY.
- There are many good choices – pick one near you that is the EASIEST to get or order in.
- Listed in alphabetical order – the order they come in is not by preference. This is the fair way. EASY.
- Remember, larger dogs will get more food than a smaller dog, so higher calorie/cup foods (just as good as lower calorie – just more concentrated) means less volume. So a big dog might get 3 cups of Brand A but 2.5 cups of Brand B. The very concentrated foods (higher calorie count per cup) will mean very small amounts of food – probably too small an amount, so look more at foods closer to a 400 calorie a cup and less at 500+ calorie a cup, because it allows you to feed up to 20% more volume of food a day.
- As a new dog food is formulated or other good foods are brought to our attention, we will add to this list. We encourage discussion and information to learn continually.
- If you are unsure of your dog food, you can call or email us. We will calculate it out for you. It is all part of the free Veterinary consults with Dog Heiro – EASY.
- You can print this list and take it to the store! EASY
- Lots of choices, lots of flavors! EASY
To qualify as dry dog foods to help your dogs in keeping a healthy weight, promote muscle, and avoid/manage diabetes, these dog foods below had to be:
- Higher in protein (than average dog foods) – over 30% protein on a dry-matter basis. Many dog foods are only 20%-22% protein. These listed dog foods are approximately 36% more protein than usual foods.
- Lower in carbohydrate (than average dog foods) – under 44% on estimated levels. Many dog foods are over 55% carbohydrates. These listed dog foods are 25-30% less carbohydrates than usual dog foods.
- As companies formulate different feeds, this list will be modified. Owners are encouraged to call us about regional dog food options that might qualify for addition to the list. For each company, this is the entire list of feeds that qualify – if a certain feed they make is not on the list, it is not within the needed higher protein/lower carbohydrate numbers.
Best Dry Dog Food – Only 15% of dog foods in the USA/Canada qualify as High Protein/Low Carb. Take this is the list of Dry Dog Foods to the store. You will only find this information here on our site. We link to the feeds so you can find them – Easy! To qualify: they must be over 30% protein/under 43% carbs on a dry matter basis. ^
Click here for in depth information on Dog Skin and Ear Problems that Heiro and Diet help.
Click here for in depth information on Dog Joint Pain that Heiro and diet help.
Dog Calories A Day – How many calories does my dog need in a single day? ^
Dog Calories A Day – Easy Chart ^
Below is a chart of various weights of dogs and how many kilocalories (calories) they need a day. The formula for this number comes from Nutrient Requirements of Dogs. No calculator needed – easy.
Dog Calories A Day – Various Stages ^
Some dogs need to lose weight, some dogs need to gain weight, and some dogs are at a good weight but need better types of food to eat and want the benefits of added energy or improved joint/skin health from Dog Heiro.
Dog Calories A Day – To Gain or Lose Weight – Its Easy ^
For weight gain or weight loss programs, it takes 60-90 days to see effect. We are looking for long-term health and NOT rapid changes which will not last. Once your dog gets to its 5% mark, you can readjust the diet again by adding or subtracting another 5% and continue on every 60-90 days until at the ideal weight.
Dog Calories A Day – Total Calories a Day ^
The calorie number is the total calories a day. This is all the calories from snacks, calories from dry dog food, and calories from wet dog food combined. If you feed too many high calorie snacks all day, then the calories left to feed at dinner time are very much reduced and this results in skimpy, unsatisfying meals. If you feed lots of low carb snacks, then there are still plenty of calories left for a bigger dinner. This is calorie exchanging.
Click here to help Finicky or Sick Dogs Needing Healthy Flavorings to Eat Meals
|Weight of Dog||Ideal Kilocalories (Calories)|
Grain Free Dog Food, Senior Dog Food, Weight Control Dog Food. What It Really Means.