How to See Beyond the Packaging to Find the Healthiest Dog Food

What do you know about selecting the right food for your loyal companion? It’s a decision that should not be taken lightly. The food you select is your dog’s primary source of nutrition (unless you treat an outrageous number of snacks, which is never recommended). The healthiest dog food should maintain optimal health and well-being. It must be a dog food you trust, from someone who cares about dogs and your dog as much as you do.

As a PhD and nutritional biochemist with decades of experience in the dog food industry, I have seen the best, the worst, and everything in between.

Let’s dive in and sort through the clutter on a bag of dog food, giving you insight into what matters, what doesn’t, and what indicates a healthy dog food brand.

The Label is the First Place to Start When Finding the Healthiest Dog Food

Your selected dog food should provide your pup with optimal health, longevity, and a constant state of well-being. It is a challenge to assess the quality of a pet food when commercial diets are presented with clever marketing and attractive packaging. A dog food label contains a plethora of useful information—when you know how to read it. When correctly interrupted and researched, a dog food label can distinguish a quality commercial pet food from those of inferior quality but attractive price.

The information required on a dog food label is approved by the joint federal and state Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). All pet food labels require:

  • Product name and brand name – Catchy names can catch your eye, but even the best-known brands don’t always deliver the healthiest options for your dog.
  • Designation – The type of food and what type of animal it’s for.
  • Quantity Statement or Net weight – This shows you how much food is in each bag, but it doesn’t indicate product quality or the amount of nutrition each bag delivers.
  • Guaranteed analysis – This shows the minimum crude protein and fat and maximum crude fiber and moisture. Future blog will share how to understand all the numbers.
  • Ingredient list – This will always be presented in descending order of predominance by weight. So of course the first ingredient is present at the greatest quantity. But don’t be fooled, future blog will share the ugle secrets.
  • Nutritional Adequacy Statement or Purpose of the Product – Believe it or not, many foods are on the market and have never been analyzed for what nutrients are present or worse yet, never fed to a dog. You want a food that has been tested for quality and deliciousness by dogs themselves.
  • Feeding directions – These may offer an indication of product quality but you know your pup the best. Offer the amount of food for ideal body conformation, not an overfed sleepy budgie pup.
  • Caloric content statement – How many calories are in your cup of food and are they the calories they need?
  • Manufacturer name and address – This will also show who makes the product—not just the marketing brand. This information is also important in the case of recalls and will help you find them if needed.
  • Expiration or best use by date – Even shelf-stable kibble will eventually expire. But most foods can be safely fed well after the expiration date.

Although the required list by AAFCO is important, it only provides the basics to help you discern the quality of one dog food from another. While some products may be low or high in protein and fat, these indicators fall woefully short of defining holistic nutritional quality of dog food. As they say, don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge a dog food by its packaging.

In future blogs, we will dive into the most important factors on this list and how to decipher each one to make sure your dog receives the ultimate nutrition.

But, The Label Won’t Tell You the Whole Story

Let’s look at an example from my experience in the dog food industry.

Many years ago providing a lamb-based product was new and gained traction from those who were told their dog had an allergy to their current food and to try a novel protein like lamb.

These lamb meals often contained more wool, hoof and hide than you could imagine. And those wool filaments, hoof and hide pieces analyzed as crude protein—even though it could not be processed into true nutrition for your dog. If you looked at ingredient specifications for protein and fat, any owner would believe they were feeding a wholesome nutritious food. Yet, the quality was simply dismal.
For those of you who use a lamb-based diet, did you ever notice it had a barnyard smell? Well now you know why!

Because the lamb quality desired was not available in the United States, the brand I worked for at the time packed our bags, flew to New Zealand, and imported lamb meat protein directly from the farm!

Both diets can claim they are lamb-based and no owner would know the difference when reading a package. But in the months to come your dog would display the difference in nutritional quality.
In blogs to come I will share more insights and provide facts and tips on how to select a nutritious food for your pup. But if you’re ever in doubt, call the manufacturer and ask questions—don’t be shy—after all we’re talking about the nutritional health and well-being of your dog.

Why GENUINE is the Healthiest Food Option For Your Dog

The GENUINE family decided to enter the dog nutrition market not just to provide food for your dog but to provide the best nutrition possible.

Even in the midst of skyrocketing ingredient prices, we refuse to change our formula. While other pet food providers make sacrifices to take the cost out of the formula, we won’t compromise on quality and nutrition. We won’t flex the formula as ingredient prices change, because we don’t want our dog food to have peaks and valleys in performance.

GENUINE will stay the course, recognize that product costs are higher than expected and will never apologize for making the best food possible. GENUINE promises to provide the ultimate in nutrition, food you can rely on day after day, by a company of dog lovers that you can trust.

Genuinely Yours,

Diane Hirakawa

PhD, Dog Lover, Founder, Nutritional Biochemist


Do you have a GENUINE Story?