Dog Food Rating: A Method for Evaluating Your Dog's Food
Dog food rating is a topic of interest
to most health conscious small dog owners. Unless you provide an entirely
homemade diet, you will most likely be purchasing a commercially prepared dog
food for your small dog. Knowing how to
choose one brand over another is important if you want the best for your
Evaluating dog food based on a variety
of criteria can be a difficult task when you are trying to determine what food
to feed your small dog. Are you
wondering how your dog food brand rates based on others available online and in
the stores? Everyone who owns a dog
wants to know that they are providing an adequate diet, but what exactly constitutes
“adequate” in today’s marketplace?
Choosing the best dog food for your pet
may seem like a daunting undertaking but it doesn’t have to be impossible if
you have the right tools at your disposal.
The rating scale which is listed below was developed by Sarah Irick as a
way to evaluate dog foods based on specific ingredients.
Sarah was a Great Dane owner and rescue
worker who wanted to provide the best diet for her dogs.
She needed a way to evaluate different dog
food brands and developed this scale based on her own research. Coming from the field of engineering rather
than veterinary science, this scale is not an exact science, but a useful tool
for comparing one food over another.
If you plan to assess your own food, you
can use this dog food ratings questionnaire.
You will need the dog food package that includes the ingredients list
and other information found on the food label.
If you have never read a dog food label, check out our introductory
article on reading dog food labels.
do your own dog food ratings, begin with 100 points and then subtract or add
based on the criteria below.
Your dog food may have already been
evaluated. Click on the Best Dog Food
link below to see if your dog food is listed and it rates based on other brands.
For every listing of “by-product”, subtract 10 points
For every non-specific animal source (“meat” or
“poultry”, meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract
For every grain “mill run” or non-specific grain source
subtract 5 points
If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in
the first five ingredients (i.e. “ground brown rice”, “brewer’s rice”,
“rice flour” are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are
less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3
If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn,
subtract 3 points
If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2
If the food contains any animal fat other than fish
oil, subtract 2 points
If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your
dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog
isn’t allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn’t allergic to
beef), subtract 1 point
If it contains salt, subtract 1 point
If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or
nutritionist, add 5 points
If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other
grains), add 3 points
If the animal sources are hormone-free and
antibiotic-free, add 2 points
If the food contains barley, add 2 points
If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the
seeds), add 2 points
If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
For every different specific animal protein source
(other than the first one; count “chicken” and “chicken meal” as only one
protein source, but “chicken” and “fish” as 2 different sources), add 1
If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and
are pesticide-free, add 1 point
Dog Food Rating Scale
94-100+ = A
86-93 = B
78-85 = C
70-77 = D
69 = F
Dog Food Rating Scores
The best foods available for your dog.
By feeding these foods, you know that you are providing excellent
nutrition for your dog.
A good choice and highly acceptable.
The foods in this category may be slightly less expensive than those
rated A or A+ but still offer a good quality diet for your dog.
These foods are average, not too bad, not too good, but they are
acceptable. Consider a higher quality
food source when the budget allows you to do so.
These foods are less than average and are not providing the best food
for your pet. Consider change your dog’s
diet or supplementing as needed to give a higher quality diet.
This list includes foods that do not provide the essential nutrients
your dog needs for optimal health. If
you are using one of these foods, run, don’t walk to the nearest store and
choose another brand of food that improves your dog’s health.
How did your dog food rate based on this scale? Are you feeding an A+ food or something a
little less? Remember, before you
immediately switching foods, consider the following:
Before You Switch Your Dog Food
Is your dog in optimal health with not health related issues
present? If your dog is doing fine on the food he/she is currently using, there
may be no reason to switch brands at this time.
Check the brand of food you are considering: Have there been any recent recalls?
Is the dog food you are considering readily available either
online or at a local pet store?
Is the dog food you are considering affordable and well
within your budget?
Is the dog food you are considering palatable to your
dog? Picky eaters may not like all
brands of foods.
If you are making a
change, purchase only a small amount and try it out before investing in larger
quantities. A high quality food that
your dog will not eat is not an economically or nutritionally advisable
alternative to your current food.
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