What is the best commercial food for my dog or puppy?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions from people in my online courses, face-to-face courses, conferences or on my blog.
I am going to answer you
It doesn't matter how you name them: processed food, balanced, feed, concentrate, kibble, kibble, pellets... In this article I am going to recommend two commercial foods based on my experience, on what I have seen, on my dealings with these companies and on how I see dogs respond to them.
I would first like to make three things very clear
ONE. I do not represent any commercial company.
If I talk about these two foods it is because I know them, they are not perfect but they are good and are above the vast majority. They are not the only ones but I have used them with very good results in general. I know them well and I will tell you their strengths and weaknesses.
TWO. I will never recommend something that is not quality.
They have tried to give me commissions for recommending some product that I don't believe in, I will never do that since you are my potential customer.
My business is in being an authority in canine nutrition and advising you on what is best for your dog in terms of nutrition, I charge for personalized advice, I sell my books (some are free) as well as conferences and trainings. I am not a food salesman, it is as simple as that.
The first criterion to recommend something related to the nutrition of your best friend is the quality of the product, independently of the price and whether I receive a commission or not.
THREE. I DO NOT RECOMMEND feeding a dog only commercial products.
No matter how good the commercial foods I am going to recommend are, I do not suggest you to feed him/her only with that. I recommend that you feed him/her homemade diets, food from your home (the most appropriate for him/her) and as a complement some of these commercial foods that I recommend.
Best commercial dog foods
I personally know Gorka (Director and owner), Edurne and Mari, and I can tell you that the soul of a company and its quality is made up of its members. You can not aspire to make a great product if its leaders do not have quality as people and love dogs. They are always surrounded by four-legged friends in their offices.
This is very important because they can make mistakes, they can fail, but they are always there wanting to improve their products and involved with the constant improvement of this food.
I can also tell you that Gorka was the first "madman" who came up with the idea (at least in Spain) to make a 100% natural food whose only preservation process is the drying of the product. After that, cheap and fast copies have come out, be careful.
Watch this short video Is commercial dog and cat food really healthy?
The only real natural food! Right, and this is worth gold, you can taste the pieces of apple, banana, rice, you put them in your mouth and they start to hydrate and take shape and flavor.
I laugh when people write to me asking about this or that "Natural" or "Holistic" pellet. What is so natural about a piece of chicken or salmon (in the best of cases because it is almost always waste and scraps) that after a thousand processes: excessive temperatures, traumatic pressures... where many nutrients, enzymes and bacteria are lost, is converted into a food pellet?
Is there anything natural or holistic in a pellet? That is the great virtue of Naku, it is the only food that is natural and has only been subjected to dehydration.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of this food.
It is the first and only natural food that exists in the market (those that are coming out are cheap copies and of inferior quality) whose only process is drying. This "Holistic" or "Natural" pellets is a mere marketing gimmick to show your face.
Natural ingredients. Continuing with the natural food, if you were not giving homemade diets this is the closest thing to natural food.
Put the dry food in the dish and add hot water, wait 10 minutes and it's ready.
Easy transportation. As it is dehydrated, it is the only natural dog food that does not need refrigeration or freezing.
It is a super personalized treatment, they are not the mega company with "customer service" that only depersonalizes you, they are close people.
One of the few companies I have seen that in their packaging they teach you homemade recipes for your dog and recommend this practice (hats off).
Made in human food factories and with ingredients suitable for human consumption. Most commercial foods do not do this and even manufacture for other brands.
One of its varieties is gluten-free (Camino) and that may be good (I have not tested it in such circumstances) for dogs allergic to this protein.
Carbohydrates, for the most part, of high quality. I defend the theory that the dog needs few carbohydrates, Naku has an excess but they are of quality. That is why I also believe that it is not advisable to feed it daily (like any commercial food).
They have no intermediaries thanks to an innovative and intelligent system of sale through the Internet. This prevents their price from rising even more.
It is 70 to 80% water (once reconstituted) versus 10% of the pellets. Drinking water, in general, is very healthy for us mammals.
It is generally very good for the digestive system, perhaps because of the high digestibility and natural state of its ingredients.
Progressive discount system: 30%, 50%? you can even get it for free, see how it works here
Excess carbohydrates. Perhaps this is the main drawback I give to Naku. Fortunately, most of them are of high quality: fruits, vegetables... To counteract this, I recommend not to give it as the only food.
It is a porridge. Try to eat for several days only mush. Can you imagine? Now, what would a dog be if it only ate mush when it is designed for stronger foods including bones. Remember that it has teeth to tear and molars to grind, powerful facial muscles (Masseter) for such a task. One more reason not to give it as a sole food.
It is only available in Spain and Portugal. According to what Gorka and Edurne told me, they are receiving many requests to introduce it in other European countries and in America and, due to the success it is having in Spain, they do not rule out expanding its borders little by little.
Longer preparation time than a pellet. It is advisable to add hot water so that the hydration process is faster, even so you will need to wait about 10 - 15 minutes.
Nocturia. The first days you may be surprised, I recommend you not to feed him/her at night (at least at the beginning), and if you do, take him/her out for a walk before going to sleep. Being 70% water he/she may not be used to it and it is common to find a puddle of water at dawn. You will be surprised because the urine is not concentrated at all (that's good). They usually get used to it. I am willing to go through this "bad drink" (nocturia) if he/she drinks a lot more water.
Few animal fats. Carnivores transform animal fats much better without any doubt. Naku is poor in them. Why do they remove them? They can easily go rancid when in contact with air, I think that's why. Vegetable fats are fine for us, but in them animal fats should take precedence. They do not have problems (if they are healthy) of cholesterol.
Price. Quality has a price. A 50 kg dog would cost approximately 3.5 euros/day to feed. While with a good homemade diet program (including commercial food) it does not reach 1.4 euros/day.
Where to buy
The sale, as far as I know, is exclusively through the internet. I recommend you to visit their site because, as I said above, they have a discount system that you can even get for free, I'm already signed up 😉
I have never dealt with the distributors in Spain. However, with the customer service manager in Canada, Diana Mick, I have had communication and feedback on their products that have earned my trust.
For years this company (Champion Pet Foods) has been doing very interesting things and very much in line with my philosophy, that is, to treat the dog as a carnivore. This food is rich in animal protein and low or null in cereals, and its carbohydrates (most of them) come from fruits and vegetables..
More than 95% of the existing foods on the market introduce cereals and are rich in carbohydrates, and this is due to purely economic criteria, it is much cheaper a kilo of cereals than a kilo of animal protein. There is a prestigious award for food, both human and animal, which recognizes the low glycemic index (low blood sugar levels), and Orijen has been several times winner in recent years.
More than 95% of the existing foods on the market introduce cereals and are rich in carbohydrates, and they do it just to make money. A kilo of rice is much cheaper than a kilo of chicken.
Today the trend is beginning to change, and as Naku is being copied for being a novel and quality product, foods like Orijen, with good levels of animal protein, low in cereals and with fruits and vegetables are beginning to abound in the market. Be careful! You may be being sold a pig in a poke.
Now you have to look at the quality of that protein, because as I told you in my free book "The shocking truths about your dog's food": an optimal percentage of protein on the label does not mean quality protein, they can put old leather shoes in during the manufacturing process and that will increase the levels of that protein ;-(
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of this food.
Points in favor:
Orijen has been with this philosophy of good levels of high quality protein for years, they are not upstarts, i.e. they have a head start on those who are trying to copy them.
Adequate levels of animal fats which, thanks to their high vacuum packaging, degrade (rancidity) less and this is seen in the quality of the hair in the medium term.
High quality carbohydrates, coming from fruits and vegetables, the most suitable for dogs, this undoubtedly benefits their digestion and digestive system in general.
If you have to go out and take care of your dear "son" the pellets are the most practical option, without a doubt, I do it with my neighbor and cause as little inconvenience as possible 😉
Prestigious companies such as Dr Wysong share this philosophy, and more and more food brands are striving for their own natural dog foods, including meat proteins.
Easy preparation. Its type of bag is made of a resistant "laminated" plastic that remains folded and avoids less degradation while being very easy to open.
They use (I am not aware of) meat proteins from animals raised on the vast Canadian prairies; I don't know, but their high palatability (dog's preference) over the vast majority of pellets is most likely due to this, their sense of smell is very powerful.
Winners in recent years of prestigious and recognized food quality awards (Glycemic Research Institute) especially for their low sugar levels, i.e. low in cereals.
Pellets, no matter how good they are, can cause volvulus or gastric torsion in large breeds of dogs, almost always with fatal consequences. My dog died from this
There may be diarrhea when it is introduced for the first time. It is not due to poor quality but on the contrary, I explain. When a dog has been eating poor quality food, as 95% of the foods on the market are, its digestive system is weak, and if quality proteins are introduced, it is very likely that osmotic diarrhea will occur. It must be introduced very gradually.
As good as it is, it's still a dumpling. They will use not so high temperatures and pressures but it still loses a lot of nutrients compared to, say, a good raw chicken leg or wing. Or dehydration, like Naku, much better the latter in that respect.
It is only 10% water, like all pellets. A homemade diet can have up to 80% water and as you know, water is life!
Like all pellets, they can be "preserved" and "do not lose properties" for months if you keep them in their bag. Is this healthy for you?
Flatos. This is a constant complaint of my clients, I can confirm it with Ballack, terrible! I stop giving him Orijen for a few days and use homemade diets and it's a cure. I have discussed it with Diana Mick but there is no satisfactory answer.
It is very difficult to find it in Latin America. Europe in general and North America (except Mexico) without problems. Some customers in Mexico have told me that they have been able to get it but at exorbitant prices.
Price. This depends on how you look at it. It may be one of the most expensive pellets but it is much cheaper than many of the more famous brands, and these with a quality far inferior to Orijen.
Price. A 50 kg dog would cost approximately 2.3 euros/day to feed. While with a good homemade diet program (including commercial food) it does not reach 1.4 euros/day.
Where to buy
There are many places on the internet, that is not a problem, look for seriousness and professionalism.
You can see my impartiality in recommending two foods so different, and we could say antagonistic, one is low in cereals and the other high, one is natural and the other is a pellet. However, there is a general criterion by which I am guided: quality, and both have it, according to my judgment.
I tell you and I will tell you again: no dog, or human, can be well fed with a commercial food, no matter how good it is, the key is to give food like the ones I have just described in addition to homemade diets well done for your dog.
If you really want a healthy dog that doesn't get sick much, it's good for him to get some exercise, he doesn't need much, and a healthy diet.
I would recommend that you feed a quality commercial food 2-3 days a week and the other days homemade diets, including leftovers of your food suitable for your dog's physiology.
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