High Quality Dog Foods & Those to Avoid

High Quality Dog Foods & Those to Avoid

Ever wonder what the best dog food for your canine companion is? Well we also wondered about these particular foods and once again sent the Dog Box diggers out to get us what they could and here is what they found regarding the best type of dog food & those to avoid.

The answer to this question, around the best dog food depends on what kind of food you’re looking for. Do you prefer a dry kibble? Or a canned? Are you feeding a new puppy? Or an adult? Thinking about going grain-free dog foods? With thousands of commercial products on the South African market, where does one begin?

After considering dozens of criteria, we determined that the best dog food should contain:

  1. No controversial chemical preservatives.
  2. No anonymous meat ingredients.
  3. No artificial coloring agents.
  4. No generic animal fats.
  5. Substantial amounts of meat-based protein.
  6. Fat-to-protein ratio 75% or lower.
  7. Modest carbohydrate content.
  8. Has to be a dog food that is nutritious and good for your pets overall health.

The Best Dog Foods for Your Dog

We have all the information on the most popular food brands so you can feed your furries only the best of the best dog food.

Buying cheaper food for your dog is an easy trap to fall into when first bringing a dog or puppy into your home. Dogs can be expensive - between vet bills, chew toys & grooming care, it can be tempting to go for the cheapest & most affordable option of dog foods on the shelves. However, if there's anywhere you should cut back costs on caring for your pet, high quality dog food should be the last on your list.

The ingredients & nutrition in your dog's food can make the world of difference to your pup's overall health & in the long term save you on those unwanted vet bills. "A healthy dog is a happy dog!" Any of us with a heart knows that our dogs deserve the best foods our money can buy. When your best friend doesn't get the correct nutrients, they can experience mal nutrition, indigestion & even some potentially fatal health conditions.

"Besides choosing the best dog suited to your family and lifestyle, picking the best dog food is one of the most important (and tricky) choices you’ll make as a pup parent."

Your dog eats the same meal every day—they deserve to love their food!

My own dog has been on four different  dog foods until we found one that stuck. That means ingredients are king—dog people care what they put in their family members’ tummies, and subpar kibble just isn’t going to cut it. It also means that the price has to be right at that sweet spot; you know what you’re getting, and the cost is fair. In that spirit, here are 7 foods paw-picked by yours truly.

Best for Most Pups and Parents:

Fromm Family Foods:

Lesser known, but a shining star above the rest in both quality and cost. Fromm is family-owned and operated and includes three lines of dry foods to satisfy the pickiest eaters (you know, the ones that will eat dirty socks and toilet paper rolls, but not their food). The standout collection? Fromm’s Four-Star Nutritional containing thirteen different recipes, each of which are made with fresh meats, veggies, and fruits. Every ingredient list begins with the meat for which the recipe is named, plus a host of other familiar and pronounceable delicacies. The absolute best part about the Four-Star line for is that you can switch it up with different recipes without going through the tedious process of switching foods. Salmon Tunalini this week—Duck and Sweet Potato the next. Fromm knows variety truly is the spice of life when it comes to dog food. Does your pup have food allergies? You’ll find less common main ingredients here, like lamb, pork, and whitefish (chicken is a common allergy-causing food in dogs) to ease those skin and tummy troubles too. 

WHY WE LOVE IT: 

  • - Great price for the quality (and a supporter of mom & pop pet supply shops—you won’t find this brand in big box pet stores).
  • - Awesome ingredients and grain-free options.
  • - A VAST array of recipes with their foods for dogs.

Best for the Savvy Shopper on a Budget:

Earthborn Hollistic:

Prefaced with - Any high quality, grain-free dog food will cost what it’s worth. Most brands have awesome whole grain recipes that still contain all the good stuff we love (along with some rice, barley, or oatmeal), but with a more digestible price tag. For the purposes of this post, I’m sticking to grain-free dog foods. Here’s what I get with the Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural recipe: turkey meal and chicken meal as the first two ingredients (meat “meals” are essentially concentrated versions of whole meats with a higher percentage of protein), no grains, no glutens, and fruits & veggies baked right in. 

Here’s what I don’t get: sticker shock. Depending on where you buy, many grain-free, protein-rich food for dogs will run you easily into the R800.00–R1300.00 range. These foods are chosen based on ingredients alone and faced a R675.00 price tag for a 15kg bag. That’s definitely something I can get excited about for a food any dog would do a happy dance for. And for the environmental activist in you: collect the UPCs from these bags, mail them in, and Earthborn will plant a tree. Perhaps one day your dog can get the joy of peeing on it. 

WHY WE LOVE IT: 

  • - Very reasonably priced dog food.
  • - Grain & gluten-free, protein-rich.
  • - A pet food brand that cares about the planet.

Best for Dog Parents who Want to Feed Raw but Hate the Mess:

Natures' Variety Instinct:

Just the idea of feeding raw dog food can be intimidating. Major props to the humans that feed raw foods on a daily basis, and I’m sure their dogs do too! But there is a price associated with that, both in Rands, time, and effort. Instinct combines the best of both worlds—it’s a dry food with the raw mixed in and requires no elbow grease to prepare.

These raw experts use what they call Cold Pressure technology to remove all the moisture from their frozen raw pet foods and then crumble it up and mix with their dry kibble. There’s no heat used, no defrosting or refrigeration required, and all the nutritional benefits of good old raw meat. Plus, in my experience, the addition of dehydrated raw dog food ALWAYS bumps up tail wags to full-on butt wiggles. Doesn’t get much better than that.

WHY WE LOVE IT: 

  • - Nutritional benefits (and high value taste) of dehydrated raw dog foods. 
  • - High in protein–great for active the active dog. 
  • - Absolutely no mess or work involved in prep.

Best Quality Dog Foods in South Africa

Other Foods We Love:

The Honest Kitchen:

You can serve this dog food to your human family. Totally serious. Everything about The Honest Kitchen (THK) is human grade, and that’s exactly what sets them apart with their pet foods. Among a plethora of grain-free and whole-grain recipes with proteins like turkey, fish, and duck, these guys provide a base mix dog food to which YOU can add the meat. Here’s how THK works: you purchase it in a box containing ~human grade~ dehydrated ingredients (think apples, spinach, pumpkin, and bananas—even coconut!). Follow the feeding guidelines based on your dog’s weight, mix with warm water and wait for the food to hydrate, add your own protein, and bon appétit. A 5kg box re-hydrated produces 15kg's of food for your dogs. 

Orijen (Acana):

This brand of dog food is big on whole, non-meal meats with lots of good proteins and a lot fewer carbohydrates. The great thing about high-quality pet foods like Orijen is that you don’t need to feed your dogs as much to get the recommended amount of daily calories & nutrients, and that means a bag of food lasts longer compared to some of the super-sized bags you find in the supermarket pet aisle. To give you an idea of a typical ingredient list for any recipe of this food, the Original formula contains: deboned chicken, deboned turkey, yellowtail flounder, whole eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel, chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, whole Atlantic herring, dehydrated chicken and the list goes on. These dog-lovers feed your wolf-at-heart, and they don’t mess around.

Wellness Core:

It’s no surprise Wellness taps into your dog’s wild ancestral heritage with chiefly protein-rich recipe dog foods. Omega fatty acids keep your fuzzy kid nice and soft, fiber and probiotics keep your dog's digestion in check (and their gas at bay), and glucosamine and chondroitin make sure their joints are always jump-on-the-bed ready. 

Even More Foods Worth Considering:

Natural Balance Sing Ingredient Dry Dog Food: Gets the nod for a great line of food with options for sensitive stomachs and/or certain protein allergies. Each bag contains a single protein, including less common options like bison and venison, and makes it much easier for pup parents to provide a simple, easy-to-digest diet. 

Nutro Grain Free: Great choice for a no-fuss food with zero grains, chicken by-product meal, wheat, soy, or corn, and a higher protein content so your dog gets what they need without all the filler. 

Zignature Dog Food: Can claim what many dog foods cannot—in addition to containing no grains, corn, wheat, or soy, their formulas contain absolutely no chicken or chicken by-products in an effort to eliminate the most common protein-causing allergen.

Victor Grain-Free Foods: Perfect if your dog's got a job to do—the high protein content (and sweet potatoes and peas as a grain-substitute) provides the long-lasting energy needed for working canines.

Blue Buffalo Grain-Free Food: Sets itself apart in one specific way: the addition of their “LifeSource Bits adds a burst of nutrients to each bowl of dog food. These small dark marble-shaped pieces are actually “cold-formed” rather than heat-formed, so the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals retain their potency. The grain-free formula is free of any potential grain or gluten allergens, and does away with corn, wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, and poultry by-products.

So, choosing the best foods for your dog doesn't have to be such a difficult decision does it?

What dog food do you currently feed your pup? Let us know below.


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