Are all Grain-Free Dog Foods Created Equal?
When comparing grain-free dog foods you need to compare more than just the price!
Grain free dog foods are becoming all the rage, but are they all the same? Basically… NO!
In this article, I am comparing two grain free dog food products. One from the top of the price range and the other from the bottom of the price range.
I won’t mention the name of the products just yet but let’s have a look at the main ingredients.
A-Ingredients, Top of the price range– Chicken Meal, Lamb Meal, Chicken fat, Potato, Tapioca, Peas, Beans, Natural Chicken Flavouring, Sugar Beet Pulp, Fish meal, Marine Fish oil, Fruit and Berries, Vegetables, Green tea, Rosemary, Garlic, Inulin, Vitamins and minerals, Natural antioxidants, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Yucca and Taurine.
B- Ingredients, Bottom of the price range- Meat and Meat meals (chicken, beef, lamb and/or pork), Vegetables and Vegetable proteins and/or canola meal, Tapioca starch, Animal fats, Beet pulp; Vitamins, Minerals and Amino acids, Natural flavours.
Whenever you see nondescript ingredients you need to pay attention.
The meat protein source in A is very descript, Chicken meal and Lamb meal. Whereas B, Meat and Meat meal is non-descript and they even say it could be a combination of any of these 4 (chicken, beef, lamb and/or pork). It looks like sometimes they put pork and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it could be mostly chicken with a little bit of beef and lamb and other times it could be mostly beef with tiny amounts of chicken and lamb. Basically, whatever they have at the time available and cheap, they put in the food. This can be a real problem if your dog has allergies, because one time your dog could be fine with the combination they used and then they change it and your dog starts breaking out in hotspots and you don’t suspect the food because it’s been fine in the past on that food.
Now let’s look at the fats.
“A” has Chicken fat and Marine Fish oil and B has Animal fats. Again, B is very non-descript animal fats could be anything from Beef, chicken, Lamb or even Fish. Essentially, they can put in whatever is the cheapest at the time. Product “A” has clear fat sources providing the same amount of Omega- 6 and omega-3 every time. This is important because the correct omega ratio is critical to a healthy immune system and to decrease inflammation. If they change the fat source you could see changes in your dog’s health.
Now for the carbohydrate sources. “B” has more non-descript ingredients, Vegetables and Vegetable proteins and/or canola meal. I find this section concerning because not only do they not describe what vegetables they use they also quote vegetable proteins and Canola meal, which is another high protein food source. This is a worry because dogs do better with animal source proteins and my concern is that a lot of the protein in this product is from Canola meal and Vegetable proteins, not animal source.
When looking at the guaranteed analysis for both products we also see differences.
Guaranteed Analysis For A– Protein 32%, Fat 18%, fibre 3%, Salt 0.75%, Omega-3 0.5%, Omega-6 2.5%, Vitamin E 400IU/kg, Vitamin C 100mg/kg
Guaranteed Analysis For B– Protein 28%, Fat 14%, fibre 4.5%, Omega Fatty Acids 1.4%.
Because “A” has more animal source protein and fats than “B” you can say that you need less of product “A” to get a similar effect of product “B”. Or if you feed the same amount, “A” will be providing more nutrition than “B”
This is a very simplistic way to look at it but it has its merits.
A more complete way to look at this is that “A” has 32% protein from known animal sources and “B” has 28% protein from a combination of UNKNOWN ratios of animal and plant sources. Now if its only 1% protein from plants then that’s ok. But if its 10% from plants then that means your dog will only be getting 18% protein from animal sources which is quite low, and could cause issues long term.
Fats are super important in dog food they supply double the energy of Carbohydrates and are easier for dogs to utilise. So looking at the fat contents of both products, “A” not only has more fat it has better quality fats.
“A” also shows the amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6. These two essential fatty acids are important to appear in the right ratios. Product B does have a figure for the Omega Fatty Acids however it doesn’t mention if they are Omega-6 or Omega-3 or even Omega-9 so you really don’t know what you are getting here. Considering having the right ratio Of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is critical just on this alone I would advise against this product.
Finally, product “A” has botanicals and anti-oxidants including Vitamins E & C, that help fight against pollution and other free radicals.
So I hope I have helped you understand it’s not all about price or even the brand name it’s about quality ingredients that are suited to dogs and are also in the right ratios to promote a happier healthier life.
I think the customers of product A says it best-
I have a black lab called Ruby and a Cavoodle (Cavalier/Toy poodle cross) called Lucy. We had a couple of months where we used some other “brand” dog kibbles that were also low carb and grain free, along with fresh meat. Our dogs itching and flaky skin problems returned over that period and within a few weeks of being back on the Stay Loyal, it was gone.
So very happy with the product.
Scarborough, Perth WA
I’ve recently changed over to StayLoyal for my three border collies (2x 5yrs old, 1x 10 yrs old). My 5 yo boy has a very sensitive stomach and I was very happy to see there were absolutely no issues with changing him over. Another big difference was their coats. I didn’t even realise how dull their coats were until they became so dark and shiny after changing to StayLoyal. Also, their poos became super small and perfectly formed. I’ve been feeding them other grain free diets for a while now so didn’t expect to see the level of change that I saw with the StayLoyal.
I’ve been telling everyone I know how incredible I think your food is.
Eagle Farm, QLD