While cost and convenience play a huge role in determining which food type to select, the most important factor should be nutritional value.


What to look for:

  • Named proteins (chicken, lamb, beef, duck, venison, salmon, pork, turkey, etc.)
  • Named animal meals (turkey meal, chicken meal, duck meal, etc.)
  • Natural preservatives (vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), vitamin C (citric acid, sorbic acid, ascorbic acid), rosemary

What to avoid:

  • Harmful preservatives: BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, TBHQ, propylene glycol
  • Toxic foods: avocado, onions, garlic
  • Unspecified, low-quality proteins: “meat,” “meat meal,” “animal by-product”
  • Coloring agents: food dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, 4-MIE), titanium dioxide, caramel color
  • Fillers: rice bran, corn bran, soybean hulls, wheat mill run, modified cornstarch, oat hulls, cereal by-products, cottonseed hulls, peanut hulls, rice hulls, citrus pulp, corn gluten, wheat gluten, soybean meal
  • Artificial flavors
  • Sweeteners: xylitol, sorbitol, cane molasses, corn syrup, fructose, glucose
  • Carrageenan
  • “Animal fat” or rendered fat
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Easy to store and serve

  • Long shelf life

Dry dog food is the most common and the biggest seller because it is the most economical. This type of food has very low moisture content and can come in the form of kibble, flake foods and biscuits, or mixers. The primary benefits to dry food include: ease of storage; long shelf-life; no refrigeration required; and ease of serving. However, not all dry dog foods are created equal. If dry dog food is your preference, be very careful in your selection, as many contain unhealthy ingredients and provide minimal nutritional value.

  • High in moisture

  • Soft texture

Wet/Moist/Canned dog food is a food with very high moisture content, giving it the soft and soggy texture. This food comes in cans, trays or pouches and can be in the form of meatloaf-type, chunks in jelly or chunks in gravy. Although more expensive, wet food does have a fairly long shelf life. However, you should pay attention to the water and protein content, since the higher the water content equates to less nutrients in the food.

RAW FOOD (Frozen, Dehydrated, Air-Dried, Freeze-Dried)

Raw diet is basically fresh food in its natural form – uncooked and unprocessed – consisting of uncooked meats, edible bones and animal organs. Also known as the B.A.R.F diet (Bones and Raw Food / Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), a raw diet consists of various raw meats, bones, vegetables, and supplements. Benefits include:

  • Increased Energy
  • Healthier Coat and Skin
  • Weight Control
  • Improved Digestion
  • More Muscle Mass 
  • Improve Common Conditions 
  • Less Odor 
  • Greater Longevity 

While most tend to associate raw food with “frozen,” there are other variations that offer the same benefits without the hassle of defrosting.

Dehydrated

Dehydration involves a slow, gentle process of using warm air to remove water or moisture from raw ingredients to preserve them. Low temperatures are used so as not to break down naturally occurring nutrients and enzymes. 

Air Dried

Also similar to dehydration, air-drying produces an extremely nutrient-dense food with scoop-and-serve convenience. The process slowly and gently evaporates moisture from the raw ingredients, minimizing any damage to proteins, vitamins, sensitive nutrients and enzymes.

Freeze-Dried

A bit more complicated process than dehydration, freeze-drying is a water removal process to preserve the food via “sublimation.” While dehydration uses warm air to remove moisture, freeze-drying goes through a three-step process.
1. Freezing Phase – raw food is placed in pressurized chamber and frozen solid
2. Primary Drying/Absorption Phase – reduce pressure to reduce the water in the material
3. Secondary Drying/Absorption Phase – raising the temperature to break the bonds between the material and water molecules The process of sublimation is basically ice converting directly to water vapor while skipping the liquid phase completely. Freeze drying tends to preserve more of the nutritional content of the food than dehydrating, as proteins, vitamins and minerals stay intact due to freezing before drying.