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Dog Food Rating Guide & Safety Tips
Hallmarks of Quality – what to look for:
  1. Animal protein at the top of the ingredients list. Ingredients are listed by weight, so ideally a food will have one or two animal proteins in the first few ingredients.
  2. Named animal protein source – chicken, beef, and lamb and so on. “Meat” is an example of a low-quality protein source of dubious origin. Animal protein “meals” (i.e., “chicken meal”) should also be from named species.
  3. An animal protein meal in a supporting role, to augment the total protein in the diet when a fresh meat appears high on the ingredients list. Fresh or frozen meats do not contain enough protein to be used as the sole protein source in a dry food (they contain as much as 65-75 percent water and only 15-20 percent protein. In contrast, animal protein “meals” – meat, bone, skin and connective tissue that’s been rendered and dried – contain only about 10 percent moisture, and as much as 65 percent protein.
  4. Whole vegetables, fruits, and grains. Fresh, unprocessed food ingredients contain wholesome nutrients in all their naturally complex glory, with their fragile vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants intact. Don’t be alarmed by one or two food fragments, especially if they are low on the ingredients list. But if there are several present in the food, and/or they appear high on the ingredients list, the lower-quality the food.
  5. Organic ingredients; locally sourced ingredients. Both of these are better for our planet.
Signs of corners cut -what to look out for:
  1. Meat by-products or poultry by-products. Higher-value ingredients are processed and stored more carefully (kept clean and cold) than low-value ingredients (such as by-products) by the processors. The expense of whole meats and meat meals doesn’t rule-out poor handling and resultant oxidation (rancidity), but it makes it less likely. For these reasons, we suggest avoiding foods that contain by-products or by-product meal.
  2. Added sweeteners. Sweeteners effectively persuade many dogs to eat foods comprised mainly of grain fragments (and containing little healthy animal protein).
  3. Artificial preservatives, such as BHS, BHT, and ethoxyquin. Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract, can be used instead. Note that natural preservatives do no preserve the food as long as artificial preservatives, so owners should always check the “best by” date on the label and look for relatively fresh products. If there isn’t a date – don’t buy!
  4. Artificial colors. The color of the food makes no difference to the dog; these nutritionally useless chemicals are used in food to make them appealing to you!
From: The Whole Dog Journal
The following is a list of high quality dog foods – with “star” ratings and where they can be purchased in the Omaha area. You can also Google Search for a distributor in your area if you do not live in the areas surrounding Omaha.

Food Name Lines Available Where to Buy
Addiction Foods**** 8 varieties, including 4 grain-free Long Dog Fat Cat
Blue Buffalo***** 3 puppy varieties, 5 adult, 1 weight control, 1 senior dog, organic variety Petco, Petsmart, Tractor Supply
Breeder’s Choice Pet Foods****  

Active Care, Advanced Pet Diets, Select Choice, AvoDerm, Health Food, For Dogs, and Pinnacle Holistic


Petco, Petsmart, Charlie’s Angels (Ralston)       

Canine Caviar Pet Foods**** 2 puppy, 2 adult, and I “special needs”; Holistic Grain Free              Nature Dog
Castor & Pollux Pet Works***** Organix – 3 varieties; Ultamix – 4 varieties  Petco, Petsmart 
Canidae Corp.****/***** 10 varieties, including 4 grain-free and 1 “single-grain, protein plus” variety Soggy Paws
Champion Petfoods***** Orijen – 6 varieties all grain-free, including 2 puppy and 1 senior   

All Paws Natural Food Store, Long Dog Fat Cat, Nature Dog, Soggy Paws,The Green Spot, Wag

Diamond Pet Products***** Chicken Soup – 4 Varieties, Premium edge – 6 varieties, Professional Pet Food – 7 varieties; Taste of the Wild – 3 varieties  Menards, Petco, Scheels, The Green Spot 
Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance*****/*****  Original Ultra – 4 varieties, Limited Ingredients – 5 varieties, Vegetarian, "Organic"  Petco, The Green Spot. Soggy Paws
Dogswell, LLC***** Happy Hips (with glucosamine & chondroitin), Shape Up, Vitality  Petco
Drs. Foster & Smith*** 5 varieties Online only
Earthborn Holistic***** 5 “life stage” varieties, including 1 grain-free Long Dog Fat Cat, Horton’s Pet Supply, Charlie’s Angels, Horton Handcrafted Quality, The Green Spot 
Fromm Family Foods***** Fromm Four-Star Canine entrees – 7 “all life stages” varieties, 2 grain-free; Gold Nutritionals – 5 varieties, 2 puppy 1 senior; Fromm classics – 2 varieties  The Green Spot, Soggy Paws, Long Dog Fat Cat, All Paws Natural Food Store
Lotus Natural Food**** 5 varieties, including 1 grain-free  Three Dog Bakery, The Green Spot (Omaha)
Merrick Pet Care**** Merrick Dog food – 7 varieties, Before Grain – 3 varieties Nature Dog, Petco, The Green Spot (Omaha)
Natura Pet Products California Natural – 8 varieties, Evo – 6 varieties, HealthWise – 5 varieties Innova – 11 varieties, Karma – 1 variety  Nature Dog
Nature’s Logic*****  Dry Kibble – 5 varieties, canned – 5 varieties, frozen – 3 varieties  Pet Grooming by Audrey, The Green Spot 
Nature’s Variety***** Instinct Grain-Free – 3 varieties, Prairie – 5 varieties  Nature Dog 
Petcurean Pet Nutrition Go! Natural – 4 varieties, Now! – 4 formulas (grain-free), Summit Long Dog Fat Cat, Nature Dog 
Solid Gold****/***** 8 varieties  Nature Dog, No Name Nutrition, Petco 
Three Dog Bakery Bake to Nature – 5 varieties, including 1 puppy and 1 “healthy weight”  Three Dog Bakery 
Wellpet***** Holistic Select – 10 varieties, Wellness Core – 3 grain-free varieties, Wellness Simple Solutions – 3 varieties, Wellness Super5Mix – 9 varieties  Long Dog Fat Cat, Petco,Pet-R-Us
If you don’t see your dog food listed, you can check a review at: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/
Look at the manufacturer of food and treats. If China is listed anywhere, be very cautious. The manufacturing standards in other countries, especially China, are not as regulated as in the USA. Some dogs have become very ill and even died from unregulated manufactured dog food.
Rawhide Chews
As with any toy you give your dog, rawhide and beef hide chews can present a choking hazard if they’re not used under supervision. As this treat is chewed, your dog slobbers on the chew, the hide becomes rehydrated, soft and gooey. At this point, your dog is able to tear away sections. Most of the time, your pet will simply wind up eating the hide and it will pass through his digestive system without a major event. However, in some cases: the hide can actually become lodged in a dog’s teeth, requiring owner assistance to remove it; larger chunks may be too big to swallow, causing a dog to choke or scrape the esophagus causing injury; intestinal blockage can also occur if the chunk of hide becomes lodged somewhere along the intestinal tract, and may require immediate surgery to remove it.
While all of these scenarios are possible, they actually happen quite rarely. However, you should still take some precautions to ensure your dog’s safety whenever you give a rawhide chew.
A Few Safety Tips:
  • Make sure the chew is large enough that your dog can’t fit it completely into his mouth.
  • Only give your dog a beef hide chew when you can be around to keep an eye on him.
  • Keep two chews on hand and trade them when one becomes too soft. The hide will harden as it dries, and you can give it to your dog again when the other chew becomes soft.
  • Replace your dog’s chew when it has been whittled down far enough to fit in his mouth.
  • Consider buying the chews that are ground rawhide and then pressed into sticks, slightly smaller than a pencil.
  • Also, dogs do not see colors – the rawhide chews that are “pretty red” or brown in color may look more appetizing to us, but our dogs don’t care and are colored with dyes, sometimes of questionable safety for dogs.
Toxic to Dogs
We all love our dogs and want the healthiest of diets. We know those “begging looks” as they watch us consume our dinner or snacks. However, there are a number of foods and other household items such as plants, medications, and chemicals that are toxic to dogs. The following is a list of those items. If you believe your dog has ingested any of the following, please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Those in boldface are particularly dangerous to dogs.
Large amounts of baby food   Bones   Chocolate, coffee - caffeine
Spoiled food and garbage  Citrus oil extracts  Mushrooms
Yeast Dough Grapes and Raisins Macadamia Nuts
Alcohol Onions and Garlic Apple seeds, leaves, or twigs
Apricots Cherries Peaches
Plums Nutmeg Xylitol - sugar substitute
Tulip bulbs Hyacinth bulbs Daffodil bulbs
Sago palm Peace lilies Easter Cactus
Crown of Thorns Azaleas Crocuses
Rhododendrons Tiger lilies Clematis
Foxglove Lily of the Valley Narcissus
Morning Glories Antifreeze Cocoa mulch
Chemicals such as weed killers used on lawn/gardens Poisons to kill rodents Certain cleaning products
Human Medications such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen Avocados Pear pips
Potato peelings, raw potatoes, green looking potatoes Rhubarb leaves Hops
Tomato leaves & stems (green parts) Broccoli in large amounts Cigarettes, tobacco, cigars
Corn cobs - can cause intestinal blockage Salt - sodium ion poisoning Baking powder & baking soda
Fatty Foods Toads, insects, spiders, snakes, scorpions Algae
Compost piles/fertilizers Swimming pool treatment supplies Fly baits containing methomyl
Slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde Cold medications Large amounts of cooked liver
Anti-cancer drugs Antidepressants Vitamins
Diet pills Liquid potpourri Rat and mouse bait
Fabric softener sheets Mothballs Batteries
Gastrointestinal Upset
If your dog has an “upset” tummy, one recommended remedy is to boil chicken, remove all bones/fat and mix with boiled white rice. As always, check with your veterinarian!
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