In the search for the “perfect” manufactured food (opposed to homemade/raw) for both my dogs, I spent a (ridiculous) amount of time trying different foods (basically imagine every brand that sells at Petco, Petsmart, and Chewy.com), and researching each company’s values and ethics, ingredients and sources, manufacturing processes, recall history, availability, and affordability.
A sample of food I have rotated through and researched.
While this list should only be used as a starting point and simplified guide, I made it to help narrow down some of the search for you. I still highly recommend spending the time to research and make your own conclusions. My endorsement of each brand here is based on my experiences only with my 2 dogs.
Note that there are lot’s of other good formulas out there by brands I did not list here. It does not mean anything not listed here is “bad.”
The following is in the order of recommendation, based on my personal feeding philosophy of using trace-able human-grade: free-range or wild single-protein whole prey meats with organic vegetables/fruits and minimal or no grains, and as little as synthesized ingredients (added vitamins/minerals) as possible.
Primal is an American company known for their whole food raw freeze dried and frozen food. They have very high standards in humane, ethical, and clean food and are 100% human grade. Ingredients come from the US, New Zealand, and Europe. They have had no recalls on dog food, but have had two recalls in 2011 and 2015 with their cat food.
ZiwiPeak is not only New Zealand-based, it is completely sourced there, too. Some production is done in USA or Canada, but all facilities adhere to high standards in health, safety, and ethics. While this company also produces very high quality canned food, they are known for their small batch air-dried raw food. They have had no recalls.
Open Farm is a relatively new Canadian brand, dedicated to ethical and sustainable ingredients. Each bag’s ingredients are trace-able to its original source, which are mostly in North America and Europe. They have had no recalls with their freeze-dried food or kibble.
Acana and Orijen are essentially the same company – Champion Petfoods, which is Canadian-based, but has since started producing for the USA in Kentucky. They own all their own facilities and ingredients are regionally sourced. They offer a variety of high-protein formulas in kibble or freeze-dried with 50-90% meat and animal products. They have only had a recall with an Australian-produced cat formula.
The Honest Kitchen is a US company known for their line of minimally processed dehydrated products. They source ingredients worldwide, but are transparent and require all of them to be human-grade. They had a recall due to salmonella contamination in 2013.
Stella and Chewy’s is US based with sourcing in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. They offer a wide range of organic, human-grade ingredients in their kibble, frozen raw, and dehydrated raw formulas. They had two recalls in 2015 due to listeria contamination.
Addiction is a New Zealand company known for their limited-ingredient hypoallergenic food in kibble, cans, and raw dehydrated. While they are technically the least transparent of the companies on this list, they are champions of producing high quality alternative wild game meats from New Zealand and Australia. They had a small voluntary recall in 2016 for supplemental imbalances.
Zignature focuses largely on single-protein limited-ingredient kibble and cans. Their facilities are in the USA and they source ingredients only from North America, France, and Australia. They have had no recalls.
Fromm is the old-timer on this list. It’s been owned by the same family for over 100 years, produced in the United States with only non-American ingredients from Europe (although no more transparent than that). They produce a huge range of kibble and a few cans. They had a minor voluntary recall in 2016 for lack of vitamins and minerals.
A sample of the brands featured on my list, but also a sample of packaging between different food forms, (top left 2) kibble, (top right) dehydrated, (bottom left) air dried, and (bottom right) freeze-dried.