Does the Dog Food I Choose Really Make a Difference?

Ever ask yourself these questions?  Do you see a lot of TV commercials?  Do you have friends that obsess over this?  The answer to these questions is probably “yes”.  (I’m am obsessed!)  So, I’d like to share some of my research on this topic and maybe provide some help in choosing.

The Pet Institute says that research suggests that dogs were domesticated 16,000 years ago, and possibly were keeping company with humans for more than 30,000 years.  They typically ate raw meat and people’s table scraps.  Dog food started to be manufactured in about 1860.  In 1956, the manufacturing process changed and dog food started being made by extrusion.  This method uses high heat and high pressure to create what is essentially an air popped kibble. It actually changes the molecular structure of the animal protein and destroys the nutritional value of the food. A dog gets less nutritional value from food processed this way.  You may want to watch the documentary Pet Fooled  – a real eye opener!  It’s on Netflix and YouTube.

Because of our love for our pets, the manufacturing of dog food continued to grow and included producing many shapes and flavors of kibble.

In 2007, many companies had to recall their food due to melamine being on the wheat gluten they used as a binding ingredient. Melamine is a chemical put in plastic and foam plates, etc. This caused dogs all over the world to become sick from poisoning and even killed some dogs.  And, according to Lura Keogh, Dog Nutrition Researcher & Writer, almost instantly, people were taking a closer look at companies manufacturing dog food. People started examining how human food is processed from this, and why we shouldn’t microwave food in a Styrofoam container.

Dog food is now available in raw form, made of meat and vegetables, and costing more than we spend for our own food. There is controversy over feeding raw food to dogs.  No easy answer to any of this as you are seeing.

Well, how should you choose a good dog food, even if you are on a budget?  I’ll try to give you some tips of what to look for when you shop. (I am not a dog nutritionist, just an avid reader/researcher.)

  • Think “healthy”. We know what is healthy for our bodies – fresh, not over processed, very few additives.  This is true for your dog as well.
  • Protein is important. More important than corn.  Since dog food comes made with a variety of foods mushed together, read the bag/can to see how much protein vs. how much corn (or grain) is in it.
    • Ingredients are listed in all food (ours and theirs) in the order of the most of that food type first, next, etc. So, if corn is listed first, then there is more corn than the next food listed, such as chicken (protein) for example.
  • Look to see where the food was made (often China) and who the manufacturer is. They are VERY different.  You may see something like Manufactured by ABC Company, Chicago, IL.  Made in China.  This means the Chicago company paid China to make the food.  You may have to search for who “made it” but it has to be on the bag.  If it’s not, that’s not a good sign.
    • The truth is, people eat lots of food from China and other countries. The problem is there are different manufacturing rules for human making food and pet food in each country.
    • The US is not great. The US does not require meat put into dog food – even made in the US – to be human grade (safe to be eaten by people).


This article has probably only opened a box of mysteries for you … but hopefully it will cause you to think about the health of our pets and you’ll do some more research.   You might look at

We all have to juggle cost, value, safety, availability, convenience, etc. in choosing our dog food, but now here’s a little more information in doing this.

A couple of easy ways to see if your dog food is working for your dog:

  • Is your dog’s coat and skin in good shape – not overly shedding, shiny, no dry skin flakes.
  • Is your dog’s poop the way it should be – brown and firm. Soft, yellow poop might mean too much corn/ grain so your dog is not getting nutrients.
  • Does your dog have the energy you’d expect him to have, or is he tired a lot.

Now, here is one warning I’d like to offer.  If this has made you think you should just make your own dog food or just feed table scraps, this really isn’t the right way to go without a lot of research.  I’ll tackle this topic in the future, but in the meantime, here is a warning.

Foods that are Poisonous or Not Good for Dogs



Apple Seeds


Potatoes (unripe)

Fat Trimmings (large quantity)



Black Walnuts



Cat Food (on a regular basis)






Xylitol (artificial sweetener)


Macadamia Nuts




Citrus Oil

Iron Supplements


Green Tomatoes



Final thought.  Please be very, very careful of the pet treats you give to your pets.  There are even less food safety regulations for these than the food.

The healthier the food … the healthier the dog … the longer we get to cuddle him.


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