Commercial Dog Foods | Are Premium Dog Foods Worth It

The commercial dog foods help us regulate cost and how much time we spend in the kitchen rather than out walking our dogs. We supplement their diet with fresh vegetables, homemade treats, and even a tiny bit of cheese every now and then.

The Truth About Commercial Dog Foods

commercial dog foods

The concern with commercial dog foods is that they are only complete and balanced for the obvious standards of vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

There are thousands of compounds in foods, not just the shortlist of vitamins and minerals that we are familiar with, and more compounds are being discovered all the time.

Another concern with many commercial dog foods, especially those of lower quality, is that they are so high in carbohydrates because their protein sources originate largely from plant material as well.

The amount of carbohydrates in your dog’s diet is a choice for you to make, incorporating your own values and economics, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Commercial dog foods are often supplemented at more than 200 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamins and minerals.

Complete and Balanced Dog Food

dog foods complete and balanced

Commercial dog foods that rely heavily on grains are “complete and balanced” as far as scientists are concerned; but if your dog fails to thrive on them, the food is not doing its job. It’s not always a true allergic reaction; sometimes it’s just poor-quality food.

On the other side, people often go overboard by saying that dogs shouldn’t have any grains (grain-free dog food). There is a middle ground. What if we just didn’t select foods that were predominately grains, especially corn?

Necessary vitamins and minerals are met with their kibble, while the homemade food provides variety, freshness, and hundreds of nutrients forgotten in commercial food.

dog’s Nutritional Requirements

dog food nutrition

You may recognize a lot of these nutrients as components of your own healthy diet, but a dog’s nutritional needs are certainly different from our own.

The accompanying example illustrates the nutritional requirements of a dog and a human girl, both weighing 50 pounds and requiring the same amount of calories per day.

Dogs require a higher amount of nutrients such as calcium, selenium, B vitamins, copper, and zinc. Commercial foods add these in as supplements in order to achieve “complete and balanced nutrition“.

We can achieve the same results by providing a multivitamin and a balanced meal with the additional benefits of fresh foods.

Switching between Commercial Dog Foods:

dog food brands

Like many people, I’ve occasionally switched from one commercial food to another too quickly and had to deal with resulting diarrhea.

There is not much research on what exactly causes digestive upset when switching between commercial dog foods, but with the average dry food containing around 50 different ingredients, any one of them could be the culprit. Commercial dog food should always be transitioned slowly.

If everything checks out with the veterinarian, the next place to look is the food you are feeding. Although commercial dog foods are sold as “dog food,” dogs really aren’t interested that much in them if they contain less-desirable ingredients.

Trust your Dog’s Instincts

pet food label worksheet

Your dog’s sense of smell is at least 100,000 times more acute than your own. If there are chemicals that smell iffy to your dog or your dog doesn’t smell anything enticing, your dog may just pass it by. If your dog is holding out for something “better,” then maybe you should provide something better.

Who’s to say that we make all the right decisions based on colorful packaging and promises made by pet food manufacturers? It might be time to try a portion of new food.

The quality of food can mean a big difference in your dog’s health, so be prepared to spend a little more. As you introduce a new food, do it slowly.

Commercial dog food ingredients?

When shopping for commercial dog food, take a few minutes to review the ingredients panel. The first half of the label should list quality foods that you can readily identify because these will make up the bulk of your dog’s diet.

Often when particular ingredients are listed it’s by scientific names, so definitely ask the staff at your local pet store to help you understand the ingredients panel. If the staff doesn’t know, then they should be able to easily look it up. If they can’t look it up, try another pet store.

commercial dog foods

The following chart breaks down the quality of common ingredients; within each box, items are ranked by desirability, with the more preferable ingredients at the top of the list.

Vet Recommended Dog Food Ingredients

Poor Quality: Leave It on the ShelfOK with Higher-
Quality Ingredients
Better Quality: Put It in the Bowl
MeatPoultry Digest
Animal Digest |
Meat By-Products | Meat and Bonemeal By-Product Meals | Blood Meal
Dried Egg Product
Salmon Meal
Fish Meal
Cheese Product
Hydrolyzed Soy Protein Isolate
Eggs + Named Meats: Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Turkey, Duck, Salmon, etc.
Liver, Heart, Kidneys— when specified by specific type of animal source
Vegetables & FruitBeet Pulp | Potato Product or Potato Starch | Peanut Hulls
Soybean Mill Run
Powdered Cellulose
Grape Pomace |
Citrus Pulp
Tomato Pomace| Apple Pomace | Potatoes | Celery
Pea Starch or Pea Fiber
Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin
Leafy Green Vegetables:
Spinach, Kale, Parsley
Peas, Carrots, Green Beans,
Broccoli, Zucchini
Apples, Bananas, Other
Cranberries, Blueberries
Grains Flours (Wheat, Barley, etc.) | Brewer’s Rice, Rice Gluten |
Soy, Soy Flour, Soybeans, Soy Grits.
Sorghum, Milo | Cornstarch, Corn
Gluten Meal | Wheat Mill Run
White Rice | Whole-Grain Wheat
Ground Whole Corn | The same grain split
into separate ingredients | Rice Bran | Alfalfa Meal
Amaranth, Millet, Oat
Quinoa | Oats
Barley, Rye | Brown Rice | Tapioca

Fats, Preservatives, Vitamins Minerals & Additives

Poor Quality: Leave It on the ShelfOK with Higher- Quality IngredientsBetter Quality: Put It in the Bowl
FatsAnimal Fat
Beef Tallow
Mineral Oil
Soybean Oil
Cottonseed Oil
Vegetable Oil
Canola Oil
Safflower Oil
Salmon Oil
Fish Oil
Safflower Oil
Chicken Fat
Flax Oil | Olive Oil
PreservativesBHA (Butylated Hydroxysanisole)
BHT (Butylated
Ethoxyquin | TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinon)
Sodium | Metabisulphite
Citric AcidRosemary Extract
Other Herbs and Extracts
Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols)
Vitamins MineralsMenadione or Vitamin
K supplement
Zinc Oxide
Iron Oxide
Non-Chelated Minerals
Psyllium Seed Husks
Chelated or Sequestered
Minerals | Flaxseed
Lactobacillus acidophilus
Yucca schidigera
AdditivesSugar | "Meat Broth"
High-Fructose Corn
Syrup | Food Colorings / Dyes
Liver Flavor
Chicken Broth, Beef Broth, etc.
Apple Cider Vinegar

Disclaimer: This article is to provide information to help you choose nutritious food for your dog. It is not intended to diagnose, cure or replace the expert care and specific nutritional advice provided by your veterinarian.