Rate Your Dog Food. Does Your Brand Get an A or an F?

Is your dog food cutting the mustard?

We all want to make sure our dogs are getting healthy, safe foods. Especially with the many pet food problems that continue to claim lives. (To keep abreast of the latest news, Therese at PetSitUSA does a fantastic job of posting up-to-date facts on pet food recalls.) It can be hard to sift through all the advertising and positioning. With that in mind, I offer the following chart and quiz to help you sort the wheat from the chaff, literally.

Here are some foods that have already been scored.

If your dog food is not listed in this chart, keep reading. There is a quiz at the end to help you calculate its score.

Brand/Formula

Score

Grade

Merrick Wilderness Blend

127

A+

Nature’s Variety Raw Instinct

122

A+

Innova Large Breed Puppy

122

A+

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Ultra Premium

122

A+

Timberwolf Organics Wild & Natural Dry

120

A+

Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison and Rice

116

A+

Authority Harvest Baked

116

A+

Chicken Soup Senior

115

A+

Innova Evo

114

A+

Innova Dog

114

A+

Artemis Large/Medium Breed Puppy

114

A+

Canidae

112

A+

Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken

110

A+

Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables

110

A+

Premium Edge Chicken, Rice and Vegetables Adult Dry

109

A+

Burns Chicken and Brown Rice

107

A+

Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult

106

A+

Foundations

106

A+

Dick Van Patten’s Duck and Potato

106

A+

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Venison and Brown Rice

106

A+

Blue Buffalo Chicken and Rice

106

A+

Nutro Ultra Adult

104

A+

Royal Canin Boxer

103

A+

ProPlan Natural Turkey & Barley

103

A+

EaglePack Holistic

102

A+

Nutro Natural Choice Oatmeal

101

A+

Nutrience Junior Medium Breed Puppy

101

A+

Flint River Senior

101

A+

Beowulf Back to Basics

101

A+

Royal Canin Bulldog

100

A+

Nature’s Recipe

100

A

Summit

99

A

Solid Gold

99

A

Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula

99

A

Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Lamb and Rice Puppy

98

A

Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice

98

A

Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold

97

A

Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice

97

A

Nutro Natural Choice Senior

95

A

Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach

94

A

Nutro Max Adult

93

B

Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold

93

B

Authority Harvest Baked Less Active

93

B

Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice

92

B

Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy

87

B

Nutrisource Lamb and Rice

87

B

Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Wheat Free

86

B

Diamond Performance

85

C

Member’Mark Chicken and Rice

84

C

Blackwood 3000 Lamb and Rice

83

C

Nutra Nuggets Super Premium Lamb Meal and Rice

81

C

Eukanuba Adult

81

C

Alpo Prime Cuts

81

C

Pro Nature Puppy

80

C

Eukanuba Puppy

79

C

Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium

73

D

Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies

69

F

Bil-Jac Select

68

F

Diamond Maintenance

64

F

Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+

63

F

Purina One Large Breed Puppy

62

F

Purina Dog

62

F

Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice

23

F

Purina Beneful

17

F

Purina Come-n-Get It

16

F

*How to grade your dog’s kibble (dry food): Start with a grade of 100, then:

  • For every listing of “by-product“, subtract 10 points
  • For every non-specific animal source (“meat” or “poultry”, meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
  • If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
  • For every grain “mill run” or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
  • If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. “ground brown rice”, “brewers rice”, “rice flour” are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
  • If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
  • If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
  • If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3points
  • If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
  • If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
  • If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
  • If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
  • If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog is not allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
  • If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog is not allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
  • If it contains salt (sodium chloride), subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:

  • If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
  • If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
  • If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
  • If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
  • If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
  • If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
  • If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
  • If the food contains barley, add 2 points
  • If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
  • If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
  • If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
  • For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count “chicken” and “chicken meal” as only one protein source, but “chicken” and “” as 2 different sources), add 1 point
  • If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
  • If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point

Scoring:

  • 94-100+ = A
  • 86-93 = B
  • 78-85 = C
  • 70-77 = D
  • 69 and below = F
[*I am not able to give proper credit because the original author has been lost. If you know who came up with it, or if you have scores to add, please let me know.]
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By |2016-10-24T09:56:41+00:00March 8th, 2009|Dogs in General, Tech Tips & Product Reviews|13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Katy May 1, 2009 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    We use Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken for our two 3-year-old dogs. A year and a half ago we took on our friend’s dog, a yellow lab/pit bull mix. He was being fed el cheapo dry dog food before he came to us. Within 3 months he lost the fatty folds and layers and his coat became much softer, too. Not only that, he is much more alert, no longer lethargic, and we realize he is a much smarter dog than he seemed when we adopted him. Nutrition definitely makes a huge difference.

    • Karen May 1, 2009 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      We also use Wellness along with some raw feeding. No doubt about it in my mind either that nutrition makes a huge difference.

  2. Anne March 20, 2009 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Yay! Madison’s dinner gets an A+ – we do a mix of Canidae and Wellness Super5 Chicken. She is a nibbler, and needing to keep her weight up (a growing, very active Giant) so we sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Wolfgang Puck’s Organic Free-range Chicken Stock. That can’t hurt, right? She loves it.

  3. Lynn Sinclair March 18, 2009 at 4:21 am - Reply

    Do you think that grading system applies to cat food?

    • Karen March 18, 2009 at 7:55 am - Reply

      Lynn, I believe it would. The idea is to look for protein as the main ingredient, and stay away from by-products and fillers.

  4. Life With Dogs March 13, 2009 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    That would be *spooked ;)

  5. Life With Dogs March 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    I was spooked when I saw this, but our food gets a great score.

    Terrific post, people need to know what they are feeding…

  6. LoriA March 12, 2009 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Interesting article. I highly recommend the site
    http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/
    Incredibly comprehensive, frequently updated, quite thoroughly checked. Uses a system of 6 stars , 5 stars, 4 stars, etc. For each kibble, all ingredients are listed, and most are reviewed (the easier part, just scroll down). The scoring system is explained thoroughly, as are good additives, noxious additives, and things which could contribute to bloat.

    A great source is “So You Are Confused By Dog Food,”
    This is a thread found on the Food and Nutrition Forum at Dogster:
    You can read, post, or ask questions as an Anonymous Guest or join Dogster for free. I have found members of this Forum to be extremely helpful & friendly. They answered my questions about my brother’s overweight dog (who was on Beneful, ick!), appropriate amounts of protein for my 2 adult dogs, and considerations for feeding my puppy. There is information on how to feed better foods that are not terribly expensive, once you take in consideration that your dogs will eat less of a higher quality food. For the truly geeky, you can even calculate the kcal required. There are also fora for home-prepared food and recipes and raw food diets, as well as fun stuff. I even ended up providing food for some friends dogs who didn’t feel it was worth it (fortunately they were small breeds!).

    I’m happy to have found your blog. I, too, have 3 dogs (a male 3-year-old Golden, a male 2-year-old Lab mix, an 8-month-old blue-eyed female English Setter/English Pointer/whatsit mix) & a doggish Maine Coon mix. Plus a bunch of Shetland sheep. Strange that I don’t have a herding dog, huh? But I don’t think I’m up to the training &
    job requirements of such a dog. In fact, another dog or another cat would be too much until this pack is a little more mature!

    • Karen March 12, 2009 at 6:54 pm - Reply

      Lori,
      Thanks for the great information and links. I hear you on not wanting to add more… anything, until your pack gets a few years on them. I’m finally able to sit back and relax a little with the nice age spread my guys have. Kiera – 9, Graidy – 6, Finn – 3, and Wink who’s almost 1 already. Though, I gotta say I’m a little jealous of the Shetland sheep. I can keep dreaming though. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Mary March 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Looks like I need to switch brands.

  8. Cindy March 9, 2009 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    You should have been around the day my neighbor was over when I was cooking for the dogs! One whiff and she wanted to know what we were having for dinner! Of course when I told her it was home cooked dog food she thought I was one of “those looney people” (said with much love) obsessed with their pets….oh wait, I AM one of those people, but the looney part I was born with, my dogs just brought it out of me to full bloom!

  9. Cindy March 8, 2009 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I can’t believe there was a time when I blindly went to the grocery store and bought the cheapest bag of dog food they had, and since I always had had multiple dogs I was looking to save money. I felt assured when the bag said “Nutritionally Complete”, thinking they wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly LIE about a thing like that, right there on the label now would they? HA! I saw the light a long time ago when a dear friend gently smacked me upside the head and made me READ the labels! (Thanks Jackie!). Now what I do is cook their food at home, putting in all sorts of lovely, healthy supplements that I carefully researched and throwing in a bag of organic, naturally produced dry food. I divide it up for the week in freezer bags and there you go….”fast food” dog food at home! Price wise I have saved money over time, but feeding my pets with the same care and attention I feed my family is what counts here, we don’t eat crap and neither should they. All the wicked bad dog food out there should be instantly vaporized…..poof! be gone!!! Thank you for listing all the wonderful A+ brands, Karen! Your information here is wonderful!

    • Karen March 9, 2009 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Someday, I hope I have the time and energy to go raw with my crew. Right now, it’s not feasible. Cindy, you are my hero.

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