What is the best dog food for my dog or puppy?
We get asked this a lot and the answer doesn't need to be complex. There are only a few core feeding needs that cover the vast majority of dogs. Unless your dog has specific medical needs, you shouldn't feel overwhelmed by choice.
Before you proceed, remember that this article should not be taken as specific medical advice. Only you spend time with your dog every day and nothing you find on the Internet can replace one on one care, together with the advice of an expert vet or nutritionist who is familiar with raw feeding and natural treatments. Every dog should have regular check-ups with a vet and have blood tests to ensure their vitals are within healthy boundaries.
The best food for your dog can be found by asking a few basic questions:
- What age is my dog?
- What is the healthy weight range for their breed?
- Are there any breed-specific considerations?
- What are their medical needs?
- How much time do I have to customise the meal plan?
Feeding according to age
Puppies and most adult dogs
Puppies will naturally eat more as they grow. Some puppies will eat almost as much per day as their adult selves. For puppies, it's generally acceptable to feed a higher-fat diet, unless they have specific reasons not to, like breed risks or existing health issues.
A complete and balanced pre-made recipe is usually the easiest place to start for puppies. One that is formulated for all life stages is ideal, since they don't need to keep switching diets as they grow. Guidelines such as AAFCO will outline what they consider as the healthy range of nutrients and vitamins as a daily intake for puppies. Look for a recipe that complies with these standards.
Beef Complete is an excellent choice for puppies and adult dogs in good health. If you need more guidance specifically for puppies, be sure to read our feeding guide for puppies. This guide also includes a feeding chart to help determine how much to feed your puppy each day. For adult dogs we also have a raw feeding guide that goes into more detail.
Older dogs or weight management diets
Just like humans, as dogs age, their metabolism slows down. This means a lower-energy, leaner diet can keep their weight in check. Also similarly to humans, the quickest way to manage health issues is with healthy weight management. Overweight dogs are far more likely to have arthritis, joint issues, lipomas, digestion issues and cardiac issues just to name a few.
Keeping a dog's weight within a healthy range is often the most powerful step to solving related health issues.
Feeding a lean dog food recipe, with low-allergenic ingredients can really assist with this. Our Roo Complete recipe has a much leaner profile and is based on roo and turkey, which is just as filling as other recipes, while providing less total energy by weight.
Dog food requirements by breed
This is often a complex topic, so we'll only cover it in simplistic terms here. Some breeds are more susceptible to certain allergies, gut conditions and have special health requirements early in their lives.
For example, bulldogs are sometimes more sensitive to chicken. Schnauzers can be prone to pancreatitis. Large and giant breeds will need to take care of their calcium intake during their rapid growth stage.
Working out what your dog can eat safely at an early age is vital to their ongoing health and longevity.
Make sure you consult a raw feeding nutritionist or raw-friendly vet to validate any suspicions you may have and to dispel any myths that unqualified people might try to distract you with.
Medical needs and prescription diets
One of the biggest myths perpetrated by commercial dog food manufacturers is their concept of a "prescription diet". While the convenience of this might seem enticing, the vast majority of these diets are already based on low-quality ingredients like grains and synthetic vitamins. They find it easy to grind up these low-quality additives and push out a bag for every condition under the sun. Rather than trying to educate the pet owners as to the causes of their conditions.
A far better approach is to establish exactly what ingredients are likely to harm your dog and seek out a recipe or meal plan that stays within the advised thresholds. Fresh is still best. Just make sure that fresh diet stays within the safe boundaries of what your dog needs to thrive with a medical condition.
In these cases, it's sometimes advisable to start with a very basic foundation, like a single protein, or protein and offal mix, then add your own supplements in a customised way to make up only the components of that diet that are safe.
For immune-suppressed dogs, or dogs with digestive issues, cooking the fresh meals may also be advisable. Even the most stalwart anti-raw vets will be happy with cooked, fresh food as a base, as long as it contains the daily intake of vitamins and minerals your dog needs.
Remember, always consult a fresh food expert or vet for this advice.
Our BARF Basics range is an ideal protein and offal mix base for elimination diets, with our chicken recipes also having 10% ground bone included. Our bulk packs also come in plain mince varieties, without offal if you really just need the bare basic foundation for a specialised diet plan.
It is very important to remember that BARF ratios are designed as a base for a rounded diet and are not complete and balanced on their own. You should always design your dog's diet with this in mind. If in doubt, it's always best to start with a complete recipe.
Time and effort when selecting the best dog food
The big question for a lot of people: How much time do you have?
A fully formulated pre-made diet will always be the easiest choice if you don't have special requirements. However, if you love customising meal plans, or want to follow a certain raw feeding protocol like BARF, you may want to start with a simpler base.
The best feeding plan for your dog
Complete and Balanced AAFCO recipes
It's usually best to start here. For an otherwise healthy dog, this is the best choice. You should always feed a complete and balanced dog food unless you have other specific dietary needs and you know how to balance your own nutrients.
These recipes have the recommended BARF ratio of 60/20/10/10 or 70/20/10.
These being meat, vegetables, offal and bone.
Our Beef and Roo Essentials recipes have a 70/20/10 ratio of meat, veg and offal, while our chicken recipe also has bone content at 60/20/10/10. You can find more detailed nutritional breakdowns of each recipe on the relevant product pages.
Remember that BARF ratios may not always provide the full range of nutrients recommended by a standard such as AAFCO.
Basics contain only meat and offal, or meat, offal and bone in the case of chicken. These recipes let you pick and choose the best plan for you, if you want to add your own supplements or create more variety over time with your own ingredients.
We have the best customer service in the business. We'd be happy to steer you in the right direction with our product range, so you can go to your nutritionist or vet armed with the detail they need to help you with a customised meal plan. Start a chat at the bottom right of this page, or contact us to find out more. Our dog food subscription service helps you save money each month with the convenience of having your pet food delivered to your door!