Thirty years ago, most dog owners grabbed whatever dog food was at the grocery or feed store and called it good. Now that dogs are seen less as a commodity and more as family members, there are dozens of high-quality commercial dog food brands on the market. Knowing which food is right for your dog feels a bit like a scavenger hunt, so how on earth do you pick a brand or recipe and figure out what that label means?
In comes the Dog Food Advisor (www.dogfoodadvisor.com) to help owners navigate the dog food aisle and choose a healthy, quality food for their dog.
About the Creator
Mike Sagman is a dental surgeon, but his love for human medicine and nutrition quickly became a passion for dog nutrition. He started dogfoodadvisor.com to make choosing a good diet for dogs easier for owners who aren’t versed in canine nutrition. Mike is the leader of the site, but he has two research assistants and a veterinarian contributing.
What Information Does the Site Provide?
The site provides information on brands, specific recipes, and recalls (current and past).
Where Does the Information Come From?
Segman says the site gets all of their information from “readily available public sources”. A lot of the site’s info comes from books, journals, and research found in the National Institute of Health’s medical libraries.
All specific nutrition information for individual recipes comes from the government-regulated labels found on all pet foods, snacks, and treats.
Do Dog Food Companies Pay for Positive Reviews?
According the website, the site or staff doesn’t accept any samples or payments from the companies to review their food.
What Are the Reviews Like?
The reviews are broken down by each brand and their specific recipes (so Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free or Canidae Life Stages, for example). For the sake of this review, I’ll use Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free section.
Every page is capped by how many stars the food/brand has gotten from the site. There’s then a list of Blue Buffalo’s recipes that fall under their Freedom Grain Free foods.
There’s a breakdown of the foods’ AAFCO label (although not a label for each individual recipe). The ingredient breakdown is handy for people who don’t know anything about canine diet and nutrition because it lists the benefits of each ingredients or says why they’re an unnecessary addition to the recipe.
Overall, I think their reviews are a bit cluttered in terms of searching for the food you want. If you use the site enough, I think you’ll get used to it, but if you’re just logging on every couple of months to check a recipe’s breakdown, it can be slightly confusing.
The Recall Section of DogFoodAdvisor.com
Recalls are scary, but they’re actually quite commonplace in commercial food production (human or canine). The recall list is organized into chronological order, but it’s still a bit hard to follow. I think it would be more useful if it was organized alphabetically by brand instead of date.
When you click on the actual recall, it lists what’s being recalled (including UPC, Lot #, and/or Best by dates), where it was sold, what caused the recall/why it’s dangerous, and what to do if you’ve purchased the product.
If you aren’t a fan of the site’s organization, click the Library icon at the top. There it’s easy to navigate to things like
Best dog foods (wet, dry, raw, grain-free, etc)
Dog food reviews (1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-star)
Reviews by brand
An extensive FAQ (like diabetic foods, weight loss, food for specific health concerns, etc)
The Comments Section
Reading reviews before you buy anything is always a good practice, but in my opinion, reading the comments section of each food review is a bit like the comments section on your local news’ Facebook page. It’s full of misinformation. The majority of the comments I saw were people saying they gave their dog the new food and then their dog experienced major digestive upset.
Chances are this was caused by switching their food from old to new too quickly and not the actual food’s fault. There’s also a chance it was from a food allergy (to chicken, most likely) and the commenters assumed it was the company’s fault.
To save your sanity, take the comments with a grain of salt. It’s entirely possible that there’s nothing wrong with the food, and it’s more of an owner problem and less of a food problem.
Luckily there doesn’t seem to be too much drama in the comment section. The comments are mostly negative, but there are some positive ones scattered in there. The best thing you can do is read the site’s review and then discuss your dog’s nutritional needs with their vet.
All in all, Dog Food Advisor seems to be a wealth of information without any bias. The owner of the site clearly just wants to ensure dogs are getting the quality of food the companies promise, and he’s managing to educate owners in the meantime about what kinds of ingredients are best for your dog.