If you are not familiar with the Whole Dog Journal, it is an amazing publication that reports on many dog issues. One of the best things they put out each year is an approved food list. Here is the food list from 2010, as seen on Boxer Talk:
2010 Approved Foods – Dry
WDJ’s Selection Criteria for DRY Food
•NOTE For 2010: Blue Buffalo is back on the list after agreeing to list who and where the food is made. Eagle Pack Holistic and Wellness dog foods were acquired by WellPet – which is owned by Berwind Corp. ( http://www.berwind.com/companies.htm ).
• New addition for 2008 is transparency. For the first time, this year we required each company who, in the past, had a product on our “approved dry dog food” list to divulge, for publication, information about their manufacturing sites. Nine companies either refused to tell us or there was no response to our inquiry. Those 9 have been REMOVED from our current approved list of dry foods. NOTE: several of the companies have since given this information and have been returned to the list of approved foods.
Dry Food REMOVED from Approved List
• Azmira Holistic Animal Care (Tucson, AZ) – Refused to discuss maker of food
• Cloud Star Corporation (San Luis Obispo, CA) – Refused to disclose manufacturing location.
• Newman’s Own Organics(Aptos, CA) – Refused to disclose manufacturing location
• Owen & Mandeville Pet Products (Oxford, CT) – No response to either phone or e-mails
• Royal Canin USA, Inc. (St. Charles, MO) – No response to our inquiry
• Timberwolf Organics, Inc. (Winderwere, FL) – No response to our inquiry
• (Evolve) Triumph Pet Industries, Inc. (Warwick, NY) – No response to our inquiry
• We look for foods that contain a lot of high-quality animal proteins. We’d love manufacturers to disclose the percentage of meat, poultry, or fish in their food, but they rarely do, so we look for foods that appear to have lots of animal protein. Ingredients are listed by weight, so ideally a food will have one or two animal proteins in the first few ingredients.
Understand that whole meat (chicken, beef, lamb, etc.) contains a lot of water weight. If a food list starts out with chicken (rather than chicken meal), and there is no other animal protein listed until 7th or 8th on the list, the food does not actually contain a lot of animal protein. But if it starts out with chicken, and chicken meal (or another named animal meal, such as lamb meal) is number two or three on the list, chances are the product contains an admirable amount of animal protein. Animal proteins tend to be more palatable and bio available than plant proteins and offer a wider array of essential and nonessential amino acids.
• We reject any food containing meat by-products or poultry by-products. It’s just about impossible to ascertain the quality of by-products used by a food manufacturer. We’ve spoken to representatives who swore they used only the finest sources of by-products, but when asked, they all say that! The fact is, there is a much wider range of quality in the by-products available for pet food manufacturing than there is for whole meats. Whole meats are expensive, and because they are expensive, dog food makers insist on their quality to an extent that is unreasonable when buying bargain-basement by-products. So we advise that you just avoid foods that contain by-products.
• We reject foods containing fat or protein not identified by species. “Animal fat” is a euphemism for a low-quality, low-priced mix of fats of uncertain origin. “Meat meal” could be practically anything.
• We look for whole grains and vegetables. That said, some grains and vegetables have valuable constituents that accomplish specific tasks in a dog food formula. We don’t get too excited about one vegetable fragment and one grain byproduct on the ingredients panel. Our tolerance diminishes in direct proportion to the number of fragments and by-products contained in a food and the prominence on a label; the more there are, and/or the higher they appear on the ingredients list, the lower-quality the food.
• We eliminate all foods with artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives listed on their ingredients panels. A healthy product full of top-quality ingredients shouldn’t need non-nutritive additives to make it look or taste better. And plenty of good natural preservatives (such as rosemary, and vitamins A and C) can be used instead.
• We eliminate all foods with added sweeteners. Dogs, like people, enjoy sweet foods. Like people, they can develop a taste for these nutritionally empty calories.
• We look for products containing organic ingredients. That’s a no-brainer.
Addiction Foods ~ New Zealand
• Viva La Venison made by Pied Piper Pet & Wildlife, Hamlin, TX
• Salmon Bleu made by Taplow Ventures, Vancouver, British Columbia
• La Porchetta made by Texas Farm Products, Nacogdoches, TX
COMMENT: Salmon and venison foods are grain-free. Venison is free-range; salmon is wild-caught.
Artemis Pet Foods ~ North Hollywood, CA
• Fresh Mix (5 varieties) made by Diamond Pet Products, Lathrop, CA
• Osopure (2 varieties for small dogs) made by Diamond Pet Products, Lathrop, CA
COMMENT: Fresh Mix products display what we call “kitchen sink” formulation. Osopure has fewer protein sources.
Back to Basics ~ Meadville, PA
• Chicken and Pork formulas made by CJ Foods, Pawnee City, NE
COMMENT: Company was sold to Dad’s Pet Care in 2009. Manufacturing scheduled to move to Dad’s own plant in PA. Company says all ingredience will continue to be USA sourced and manufactured.
Bench and Field Pet Foods ~ Grand Rapids, MI
• Holistic Natural Canine made by WellPet, Mishawaka, IN
COMMENT: Company offers direct shipping to your home.
Blue Buffalo Company ~ Wilton, CT
• Blue Life Protection Formulas (3 puppy varieties, 5 adult, 1 weight control, 1 senior)
• Blue Longevity (puppy, adult, mature)
• Blue Wilderness (2 varieties)
• Blue Organics
NOTE: All foods made by: Chenago Valley Pet Foods, CJ Foods, Dad’s Pet Care, Triple T Foods.
COMMENT: Company plans to launch a “limited ingredient” line in February.
Blue Seal Feeds ~ Londonderry, NH
• By Nature (6 varieties) made by Blue Seal, Arcade, NY
• By Nature Organics made by Chenango Valley Pet Foods, Sherburne, NY
COMMENT: “Bright Life” variety has been discontinued.
Breeder’s Choice Pet Food ~ Irwindale, CA
• Pinnacle Holistic (4 varieties)
• Active Care (2 varieties)
• Advanced Pet Diets Select Choice (6 varities)
• AvoDerm Natural (10 varieties)
• AvoDerm Natural Original Oven-Baked (3 varieties)
• Health Food for Dogs
NOTE: All Breeder’s Choice formulas are made at their plant in Irwindale, CA
COMMENT: Active Care line contains “natural chicken cartilage with the highest levels of unprocessed chondroitin and glucosamine”, AvoDerm line developed for dogs with skin and coat issues, AvoDerm Baked meant for dogs with “sensitive stomachs”.
Burns Pet Nutrition ~ Valparaiso, IN
• Chicken and Brown Rice made by CJ Foods, Bern, KS
• Ocean Fish and Brown Rice made by CJ Foods, Bern, KS
COMMENT: Company offers direct sales and shipping of fresh product to your home.
Canidae Corp ~ San Luis Obispo, CA
• All Life Stages (6 varieties)
• Grain-Free (2 varieties)
NOTE: All Canidae formulas are made by Diamond Pet Foods, Lathrop CA, Meta, MO, Gaston, SC
COMMENT: “All Life Stages”, “Platinum” and “Grain-Free ALS” have multiple animal protein sources; other four varieties have just one or two animal protein sources.
Castor & Pollux Pet Works ~ Clackamas, OR
• Organix (3 varieties) made by CJ Foods, Bern, KS
• Ultramix (4 varieties) made by Crosswinds Petfoods, Inc., Sabetha, KS
COMMENT: Organix’s organic certification is by Certified Organic by Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA International, Inc.). Lincoln, NE. Foods have been reformulated since we last reviewed them, with only minor changes. Company offers direct shipping to your home.
Canine Caviar Pet Foods ~ Costa Mesa, CA
• Canine Caviar Holistic Beneficial (5 varieties including 2 puppy, 2 adult and 1 “special Needs”)
• Holistic Grain Free
NOTE: All foods made by Ohio Pet Foods, Lisbon, OH
COMMENT: Company says it uses only dehydrated meats, not rendered meat meals, in its 5 Holistic Beneficial varieties. Grain-free variety does use venison meal, said to be from free-range venison.
Champion Pet Foods ~ Morinville, Alberta, Canada
• Acana (10 varieties)
• Acana Grain-Free(3 varieties)
• Orijen (6 varieties, all grain-free)
NOTE: All foods made by their own plant in Alberta, Canada
COMMENT: Company says all ingredients are fresh (never frozen) and locally sourced. All foods are formulated with higher protein, lower carb content then most companies’ offerings.
Della Natura Commodities ~ Bayside, NY
• Wenaewe (3 beef based varieties, 1 vegetarian variety) made by Erro S.A, Uruguay
COMMENT: A senior variety is planned. Imported from Uruguay. Company says all beef is “beyond organic”, free-range. Vegetarian variety uses soymeal for protein source. (Note that we are not fans of vegetarian diets for dogs).
Diamond Pet Products ~ Meta, MO
• Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul (4 varieties)
• Premium Edge (6 varieties)
• Professional Pet Food (7 varieties)
• Taste of the Wild (3 varieties)
NOTE: All of Diamond Pet dry dog foods are made at Lathrop, CA – Meta, MO – Gaston, SC
COMMENT: Taste of the Wild formulas are grain-free.
Drs. Foster & Smith ~ Rhinelander, WI
• Drs Foster & Smith Adult Dog (5 varieties) made by CJ Foods, Bern KS & Pawnee City, NE
COMMENT: Company is a retailing catalog company so it will direct-ship to your home.
**** Van Patten’s Natural Balance ~ Pacoima, CA
• Natual Balance Organic
• Natual Balance Vegetarian
• Natural Balance Original Ultra (4 varieties)
• Natural Balance Limited Ingredience Diets (5 varieties)
NOTE: All foods made by CJ Foods, Bern, KS
COMMENT: Company tests for contaminants and makes the test results available on its website.
Dogswell, LLC ~ Los Angeles, CA
• Happy Hips ~ with glucosamine & chondroitin
• Shape Up ~ lower fat
NOTE: All foods made by Tuffy’s Pet Foods, Perham, MN
COMMENT: Will direct ship food to your home.
Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. ~ Wheeling, ILL
• Pheasant & Brown Rice made by Fromm Family foods, Mequon, WI
• Chicken & Brown Rice made by Ohio Pet Foods, Lisbon, OH
• Whitefish & Brown Rice made by Ohio Pet Foods, Lisbon, OH
COMMENT: Evanger owns its cannery but has its dry foods made by co-packers, with ingredients it sources.
FirstMate Pet Foods ~ North Vancouver, BC, Canada
• FirstMate Grain-Free (6 varieties)
• FirstMate Classic (4 varieties)
• Skoki Grain-Free (6 varieties)
• Skoki Classic (4 varieties)
NOTE: All foods made in their own plant in Chilliwack, BC, Canada
COMMMENT: Skoki formulas cost less then FirstMate, which is the company’s “premium” line.
Fromm Family Foods ~ Mequon, WI
• Four-Star Entrees (6 varieties including 1 grain-free)
• Gold Nutritionals (5 varieties)
• Classics (2 varieties)
NOTE: All Fromm’s dry foods made at their own plant in Mequon, WI
COMMENT: Four-Star foods contain the most ingredients and variety, Gold line is formulated with multiple animal protein sources, Classic line formulated with chicken as major source.
Laughing Dog, Inc. ~ Lodi, CA
• Young Dog
• Brave Dog
• Wise Dog
NOTE: All foods made by Taplow Feeds, Chilliwack, BC, Canada
COMMENT: Company says these make Laughing Dog superior: a vacuum infusion process that infuses (rather then just coats) the kibble with enzymes and probiotics, and its use of coconut oil in the formula.
Life4K9 Pet Food Corp ~ Dawsonville, GA
• Life4K9 (2 varieties) is made by Bio Biscuit in Quebec, Canada and Hampshire Pet Products, Joplin, MO.
COMMENT: These are baked foods, company feels strongly that baked foods are superior to extruded foods.
Lincoln Biotech ~ East Bend, NC
• Zinpro made by Chenango Valley Pet Foods, Sherburne, NY
COMMENT: Company feels that dogs don’t get enough zinc, causing sking and coat problems – Zinpro is formulated with a bioavilable zinc.
Merrick Pet Care ~ Amarillo, TX
• Merrick Dog Food (7 varieties)
• Before Grain (3 varieties)
NOTE: All Merrick dog foods are made at their plant in Hereford, TX
COMMENT: Available via direct shipping with no shipping charges in the U.S.
Mulligan Stew Pet Food ~ Jackson, WY
• Mulligan Stew (3 varieties) made by Mountain Country Foods, Okeene, OK
COMMENT: All dry foods are baked, not extruded. Company says all ingredients are sourced in from U.S. farms and ranches.
Natura Pet Products ~ Santa Clara, CA
• Innova (11 varieties)
• California Natural (8 varieties)
• HealthWise (5 varieties)
• EVO (6 varieties)
• Karma Organic
NOTE: All foods made at their plants in Fremont, NE and San Leandro, CA
COMMENT: California Natural foods contain a single animal protein source. EVO foods are grain-free, high in protein and fat, Innova foods contain several sources of animal protein, Karma is Natura’s only baked and organic food.
Nature’s Variety ~ Lincoln, NE
• Prairie (5 varieties)
• Instinct Grain-Free (3 varieties)
NOTE: All food made by Pied Piper Mills, Hamlin, TX
COMMENT: Company strongly promotes diet rotation amoung varieties and types, offering complementary frozen raw and canned foods.
OmniPro Pet Foods ~ Madison, MS
• OmniPro Holistic Salmon & Potato is made by Diamond Pet Products, Lathrop, CA, Meta, Mo and Gaston, SC
COMMENT: The variety listed (OmniPro’s sole premium food) may be a toe in the water of this market.
Petcurean Pet Nutrition ~ Chilliwack, British Columbia
• Go! Natural (4 varieties including 1 grain-free)
• Now! (4 formulas, all grain-free)
• Summit Holistics (3 varieties)
NOTE: All foods made by Elmira Pet Products, Elmira, Ontario, Canada
COMMENT: Go! Natural grain-free variety was recently reformulated with lower protein and fat. Now! varieies contain no rendered meats.
Perfect Health Diet Products ~ Elmsford, NY
• PHD Viand made by Chenango Valley Pet Foods, Sherburne, NY
COMMENT: Company suggests using its products to supplement a fresh food diet.
Pet Chef Express, Inc ~ New Westminster, BC
• Pet Chef Express (sole variety) made by Nutreco Canada, Inc., Guelph, Ontario, Canada
COMMENT: Company provides home delivery in parts of Canada
Pet Valu ~ Markham, Ontario, Canada
• Performatrin Ultra (3 varieties) made by Elmira Pet Products, Ontario, Canada
COMMENT: Performatrin Ultra is sold exclusively in PetValu stores in Canada and the Northeastern U.S.
Precise Pet Products ~ Nacogdoches, TX
• Precise Plus (4 varieties) made by Texas Farm Products, Nacogdoches, TX
COMMENT: Precise is owned by Texas Farm Products. The company says it expects to update its formulas this year.
SmartPak Canine ~ Plymouth, MA
• LiveSmart (5 varieties) foods made by Chenango Valley Pet foods, Sherburne, NY
COMMENT: Direct shipping is available. Food is available sealed in custom-measured single-serving packages for maximum freshness.
Solid Gold Health Products ~ El Cajon, CA
• Solid Gold (8 varieties) made by Diamond Pet Products in Lathrop CA and Meta, MO
COMMENT: Varieties include adult, puppy and small-bites. Barking at the Moon contains fish and beef and is grain-free.
Tuffy’s Pet Foods, Inc ~ Perham, MN
• NutriSource (10 varieties)
• Natural Planet Organics
• PureVita (3 varieties
NOTE: All foods made at their plant in Perham, MN
COMMENT: Natural Plant Organics certified by Oregon Tilth. PureVita varieties each contain a single source of animal protein.
VeRUS Pet Foods, Imc. ~ Abingdon, MD
• VeRUS (5 varieties) made by Ohio Pet foods, Lisbon, OH
COMMENT: Company says all lamb used in foods is free-range, grass-fed, New Zealand lamb.
Wellpet ~ Tewksbury, MA
• Holistic Select (10 varieties)
• Wellness Core (3 grain-free varieties)
• Wellness Simple Food Solutions (3 varieties)
• Wellness Super5Mix (9 varieties)
NOTE: Made at: Wellpet’s plant in Mishawaka, IN; Hagen Pet foods, Waverly, NY; CJ Foods Bern, KS; American Nutrition, Inc, Ogden, UT; Diamond Pet Foods, Gaston SC & Lathrop, CA.
COMMENT: Formerly known as Old Mother Hubbard and Wellness Pet Care. WelPet now owns and operates a formal rival (Eagle Pack).
You can find The Whole Dog Journal here: http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/