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Best Grain Free Dog Food: Our Top 10 Brands

Dog eating dogfood on a silver bowl

It’s the middle of the night, and as you sleepily make your way to the bathroom, you step, barefoot naturally, in a pool of dog vomit. Your four-legged friend is suffering from an upset stomach — again. Washing your foot, you vow that, come tomorrow, you are going to find the best grain free dog food for your furkid.

When morning rolls around, the sound of your dog about to vomit vaults you out of bed faster than any alarm clock ever did. Once Fido is safely ushered outside before decorating the floor again, you decide it’s finally time to make some dietary changes for him. And he agrees.

So how do you go about picking the best grain free dog food for your pooch?

Finding the right food for Fido isn’t always easy. To help you decide, check out some information on the 10 best grain free dog food brands currently available.

Dogs eating dogfood on a silver bowl

​Image via Pixabay

Comparison Table

What Is Grain Free Dog Food?

The best grain free dog food brands will not have any wheat, corn, barley, oats, rye, rice, or soy. During World War II, manufacturers commonly used these ingredients as inexpensive filler in pet food. Consequently, this was not optimal for Fido’s nutrition or weight.

Think about what your dog naturally craves. Has Fido ever attacked a wheat stalk? Probably not. But he may have stalked a rabbit or a squirrel. Similarly, he more likely begs for your bacon than your oatmeal.

The best grain free dog foods focus more on a dog’s ancestral diet. As a result, they will list protein sources as the first ingredient or ingredients. Manufacturers list components by weight, so the higher an ingredient is listed, the more of it the food contains.

You may be looking at your current brand and think, “Well, it lists chicken as the main ingredient.” Read the rest of the ingredients. Is the same food listed in multiple ways?

Some manufacturers may show a protein as the first source. However, they also list corn, corn bran, and corn gluten in the ingredients. However, all are still corn. As a result, when you add them, they may outweigh the protein source. Therefore, it is essential to read all the ingredients.

The best grain free dog food brands, however, are not necessarily low carb. Dogs need carbohydrates for energy and a balanced diet. For that reason, most of the best grain free dog food brands may use sweet potatoes, legumes, or peas to provide needed carbohydrates.

Benefits of Using the Best Grain Free Dog Food

As the low-carb trend with humans gained favor, so did the idea of feeding our pets the best grain free dog food we can. After all, we want them to be as healthy as possible.

While only one percent of dogs have a grain allergy, many can benefit from eating the best grain free dog food you can give them.

As discussed earlier, a grain free diet is more in line with what dogs naturally eat.

Also, the best grain free dog food brands are formulated using higher quality ingredients. They use whole protein sources such as beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, salmon, and eggs. Obviously, this is preferable to the byproducts used in some other brands of dog food.

The 10 Best Grain Free Dog Food Brands

This list is a result of examining the ingredients of each brand and considering reviews of pet owners who have tested these products. The vetted findings are in this “best of” list.

1. Zignature Grain-Free Dog Food

Zignature Grain-Free Dog Food contains ingredients from all over the world, such as kangaroo, Guinea fowl, and goat, along with the more traditional fish, poultry, and venison. Its protein first and limited ingredients recipe mimics the natural prey instincts of dogs.

Its hypoallergenic formula is free of chicken, eggs, chicken meal, or chicken by-product. This high fiber and single source protein food is designed to be a nutritionally correct diet for dogs. Zignature manufactures its product in the United States.

Zignature offers a wide range of flavors such as pork, lamb, kangaroo, goat, venison, pork, poultry, turkey, duck, Guinea fowl, catfish, trout, salmon, and whitefish.

2. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dog Food

Nulo Grain Free Dog Food: All Natural Adult Dry Pet Food For Large And...
  • 100% ALL NATURAL - Feed your furry family right. Nulo Grain-Free dry dog food is made with clean ingredients to help...
  • GRAIN FREE - Nulo doesn't include allergy-triggering grains, corn, wheat gluten, soy, fake additives, colors, or...
  • FOR LARGE, SMALL DOGS - Our meat protein-rich, BC30 Probiotic, low-carb, small kibble formula is crafted for every adult...

Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dog Food is a "high meat" kibble, meaning that the first three to five ingredients are animal proteins. This low carb and low glycemic brand features Patented GanedenBC³⁰ probiotic for digestive and immune health.

It offers two lines: Medal Series and FreeStyle with main protein options of turkey, chicken, cod, lamb, salmon, or trout. Choices for primary carbohydrate sources include chickpeas, red lentils, peas, and sweet potatoes.

The FreeStyle line includes limited ingredient formulas as well as freeze dried raw recipes. Nulo also makes puppy, senior, small and large breed, and weight control formulas.

3. Earthborn Grain Free Holistic

No products found.

Earthborn Grain free Holistic is designed to support overall well-being. This brand offers whole, natural nutrition. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Earthborn manufactures its product in the United States. Most noteworthy, neither the FDA nor Earthborn have ever issued a recall for this brand.

The Primitive Natural blend is turkey, chicken, and whitefish based. Coastal Catch combines herring and salmon. Meadow Feast features lamb. Great Plains focuses on bison protein. Western Feast uses beef and pork. The also carry formulas for large and small breeds, puppies, and weight control.

The limited ingredient Earthborn Holistic Venture formulas contain no grain, gluten, potato, eggs, by-products, or artificial preservatives. It offers a variety of different protein sources such as rabbit, squid, and Pollock.

4. Taste of the Wild

No products found.

Taste of the Wild offers a formula based on a dog's ancestral diet. It features highly digestible animal proteins, including real venison, salmon, lamb, wild boar, roasted fowl, or bison that support muscles, organ function, the immune system, healthy skin, and a shiny coat.

Each pound of dry food provides 80 million live, active probiotic cultures that support your dog's healthy digestion. Taste of the Wild manufactures in the United States.

Recipes include High Prairie, Pacific Stream, Pine Forest, Sierra Mountain, Southwest Canyon, and Wetlands. Select flavors are also available in a puppy and small breed formulas. Taste of the Wild Prey products feature limited ingredients with no GMOs.

5. Wellness Core Dog Food

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Original Turkey &...
  • ADVANCED NATURAL NUTRITION TO FUEL YOUR DOG'S BEST LIFE: Premium protein expertly balanced with nutrient rich superfoods...
  • SAVORY FOOD DOGS LOVE: Wellness CORE is available in grain and grain free recipes, as well as limited ingredient diets...
  • LEANER BODY MASS AND MUSCLE TONE: Wellness CORE dog food is made with a high concentration of protein from fresh meat...

Wellness Core Dog Food is grain free food rooted in the belief dogs thrive on hearty animal proteins. It blends super nutrients and probiotics with natural ingredients. Moreover, it has a flax omega blend to promote healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Flavors include Original, Ocean, Wild Game, and Lamb. It also comes in puppy, senior, reduced fat, and large and small breed formulas.

Additional lines include Core Six and Core Revraw. Core Six contains just six main ingredients, whereas Core Rawrev is a high-protein, grain free kibble combined with 100 percent raw meat pieces.

6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe High Protein, Natural...
  • PACKED WITH REAL BEEF: A recipe inspired by the Rocky Mountains, this high protein dog food features a blend of red meat...
  • HEALTHY INGREDIENTS: Blue Wilderness grain free dog food, made with healthy carbohydrates including sweet potatoes and...
  • ANTIOXIDANT-RICH LIFESOURCE BITS: A precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals carefully selected by holistic...

Blue Buffalo Wilder​​ness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Dry DogFood is made with natural ingredients and includes cold-formed LifeSource Bits. These are a blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support immune system health and a healthy oxidative balance. Their formulas also include glucosamine to support joint function and mobility. It is free of chicken by-product and artificial flavors and preservatives.

Flavors include red meat, chicken, duck, salmon, bison, and rabbit as well as combinations such as Bayou Blend (alligator and catfish), Snake River Grill (trout, venison, and rabbit), Flatland Feast (duck, quail, and turkey), and Denali Dinner (salmon, halibut, and venison).

It is available in regular, large and toy breed puppy and adult formulas as well as senior and adult weight control blends.

7. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food with...
  • Contains (1) 28 pound bag of dry dog food
  • Helps minimize the number of ingredients dogs are exposed to
  • Maintains digestive health

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet offers complete nutrition for dogs by using a limited number of quality ingredients. Formulated to meet the balanced dietary needs of all breeds of adult dogs, it has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

It is available in chicken, duck, bison, venison, and fish recipes. Additionally, it comes in puppy and small breed formulas.

8. I and Love and You Nude Super Food

"I and love and you" Nude Superfood Dry Dog Food - Grain Free Kibble,...
  • SUPERFOODS ADDED: Includes additional superfoods like flaxseeds, coconut oil and turmeric
  • ALWAYS GRAIN FREE: No, no, no grains, you’re not invited to this dinner party; we’re serving garbanzo beans,...
  • NO FILLERS, ALL LOVE: Non-GMO protein or produce, no by-product meals, wheat, corn, soy, rice, artificial preservatives,...

I and Love and You Nude Super Food is a high-protein formula made with digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics. These ingredients help with bad breath, rumbling tummies, loose stools, or gas.

Recipes also feature easier-to-digest carbs like lentils, garbanzo beans, and sweet potatoes. I and Love and You manufactures its product in the United States. Varieties include Poultry Palooza, Red Meat Medley, and Simply Sea.

9. Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food Recipes
  • Grain-Free Nutrition With No Gluten Ingredients For Easier Digestibility
  • #1 Ingredient Is Real Deboned Buffalo
  • Contains Industry-Leading Levels Of Omega 6 And Omega 3 Fatty Acids To Aid In A Healthy Skin And Coat

All of Merrick's grain-free formulas start with deboned meat or poultry and are formulated to provide the best nutrition for your pet. Their recipes include whole foods such as sweet potatoes, peas, apples, and blueberries. They are preservative, filler, corn, wheat, soy, and gluten-free. Merrick manufactures its product in the United States.

Flavors include turkey and sweet potato, rabbit and chickpea, chicken and sweet potato, venison and chickpea, buffalo and sweet potato, lamb and sweet potato, and salmon and sweet potato.

Also, they have formulas for large breeds, puppies, weight management, and senior dogs. Additional grain free lines include Merrick Limited Ingredient diet and Merrick Backyard Country.

10. Farmina Natural and Delicious Grain-Free Dog Food

Farmina Natural And Delicious Grain-Free Formula Dry Dog Food,...
  • Complete Dog Food For All Life Stages
  • Grain-Free, Gluten-Free
  • High Level Of Fresh Protein, Limited Carbohydrate, Low Fiber Formulas

Farmina Natural and Delicious Grain-Free Dog Food is the result of a research collaboration with the Chair of Animal Nutrition at the University of Naples Federico II.

The recipe features 70 percent animal ingredients and 30 percent vegetables, fruits, vitamins, and minerals. As a result, Farmina has a low glycemic index and no artificial preservatives.

It is available in chicken and pomegranate, boar and apple, and lamb and blueberry.

Where to Buy

While some upper-end grocery stores may carry a small selection, the best grain free dog food brands are usually available in pet stores, from certain manufacturers directly, or from online retailers such as Amazon.

Introducing It To Your Dog

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​Image via Pixabay

The first thing to remember is that any time you change your dog’s diet, you should do so gradually. Unless your dog has an iron stomach, he might have some adverse reactions to a sudden kibble change.

PetMD encourages owners to introduce new food to your dog gradually over the course of five days.

On Day 1, mix 20 percent of the best grain free dog food you choose with your dog’s current food. Each day after, increase the amount of the new food by 20 percent, while decreasing the old food by the same amount. Finally, by day 5, your dog should get a bowl of just the new kibble.

Basically, the daily breakdown looks like this:

Percent of New Food
Percent of Current Food

Chart by author

​Fido Deserves the Best Grain Free Dog Food

Your four-legged friend deserves high-quality food that meets his nutritional needs. The best grain free dog foods listed here offer top-caliber ingredients formulated to keep your dog healthy and happy.

No matter which of these brands of the best grain free dog food you buy, you can rest well knowing you are providing your pup with excellent ingredients, including protein he craves. Furthermore, he and his tummy will thank you for it.

Do you feed your best friend a trusted grain free dog food that isn't on our list? Share it with us in the comments!

How to Switch Dog Food Without Causing Digestion Problems

Pet food

To our dogs, we are the center of their world, where all good things, including food, come from. Learning how to switch dog food is essential to know, just in the case that we need to make a change their diet.

Many dog owners may choose to keep their dogs on the same food throughout their lives. Though most veterinarians recommend this, not everyone agrees that this is the best way.

Some pet experts now recommend rotation feeding, or changing food every few months. The idea behind rotation feeding is that it gives dogs more nutritional variety.

It can also alleviate possible boredom! After all, would YOU want to eat the same food day after day?

Whatever the reason, you should never abruptly change your dog’s food as this can cause stomach upset. You can help lessen the shock to your dog’s system by learning how to switch dog food the right way.

How to Switch Dog Food: What You Need to Know

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Learning how to switch dog food is more than just switching out one type of food for another. To successfully change food takes time and effort to put in the research.

Give it time

Changing your dog’s food suddenly is never recommended. If possible, budget at least a week, if not longer, to gradually change your dog’s diet.

That gradual change over allows your dog to get used to the taste of the food. It also allows their digestive tract to adjust.

Listen to your dog

Like humans, dogs have likes and dislikes. They may not always like what’s good for them, but sometimes, they may be trying to tell you something with their actions.

After you switch the food, pay close attention to how your dog is reacting. You know your dog best and can best judge how much they like (or don’t like) their new food.

Reasons to Switch Dog Food

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There are a variety of reasons that you may want to switch your dog’s food.

Canine food snob

For many dogs, the surest way into their heart is through their stomach. Just one bite of a tasty morsel and you have an instant best friend.

But then there’s your dog. Miss Picky McPicky Pants snubs most everything you give her.

Picky eaters are hard to please, and you may find yourself changing dog food to help appease them.

If you know you have a picky eater, be sure to pick a food that contains an ingredient that you know for sure that they like.

Food intolerance and allergies

Like humans, dogs can have food intolerances and allergies. Intolerance and allergies are slightly different. Allergies are an immune response to a food trigger. Intolerances are not immune-related. However, these are still physical responses to a food trigger.

If you notice that your dog scratches frequently, has poor stool consistency, or otherwise seems sick, they may have a food intolerance or allergy.

If you are switching your dog’s food due to suspected intolerance or allergies, you need to know how to switch dog food for best results. You also need to know how to watch for signs that the change is working.

It may take anywhere between two to three months to be sure whether or not the diet change worked. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian for assistance.


Keeping your pooch well-fed can be an ongoing battle with your wallet. The best rule of thumb is always to buy the best food you can afford.

The hard truth is that sometimes, you may not always be able to afford your dog’s preferred food. When that happens, you may need to switch between menus, depending on what your budget allows.

When puppy has an upset tummy

Though you may do your best to learn how to switch dog food, there still may be problems. Learn to recognize the signs when a food switch isn’t going so well and how to treat it.

Signs of an upset tummy

When you switch your dog’s food, be on the lookout for signs of digestive problems. These include vomiting, loose stools, and increased gas.

Home remedies

Keep plenty of fresh, cold water on hand for your dog to drink. Dehydration can cause their tummies to get upset.

If loose stools are the problem, try adding a spoonful of canned, mashed pumpkin to their food. Be sure to get the pure mashed pumpkin with no additives rather than canned pumpkin pie filling.

Another favorite home remedy for upset dog stomach is baby food. Strange as it may sound, baby food is highly digestible and tasty to most dogs.

If you feed your dog baby food to help settle their stomach, make sure that it has no onion or garlic in the ingredients list.

When to call a vet

tricolor cavalier king charles spaniel puppy eating bread

image source: Pixabay

If you are worried at all about your dog’s health as they adjust to their new food, call your vet as soon as possible.

You should call your vet immediately if your dog is frequently vomiting, has a fever, or is vomiting blood.

Also, if your dog has diarrhea for more than 24 hours or has blood or mucus in their stool, call for an appointment as soon as possible.

How to Switch Dog Food: Dry and Wet Food

Switching between foods is actually easy, if not always smooth, process. Whether you are switching between flavor varieties of the same brand or switching brands completely, you will need to do a slow switch to help lessen the chance of stomach upset.

These are the steps you need to take to switch between different commercially prepared dry and wet dog foods. That process works the same for switching between dry foods or wet foods or changing from wet to dry and vice versa. Keep in mind that this process may take at least a week.

The only notable difference is when changing from wet food to dry. In this instance, your furry friend may find themselves with a bit of constipation. This is from the lessened amount of liquid in their food.

Make sure they have plenty of water as we mentioned before and they should be just fine.

Research different foods

While researching how to switch dog food, look at various food types. The different food types you can change to will vary on the reason you are switching.

If you are switching foods due to a suspected intolerance or allergy, avoid foods that contain common allergens. These include beef, dairy, wheat, eggs, chicken, lamb, and soy.

To make your search easier, look for foods labeled “Limited Ingredient” as these tend to have fewer ingredients overall.

Just go slow

Always introduce the new food slowly, mixing the old food and the new food. This allows your dog to get used to the taste of the new food while their digestive system compensates for the new food.

On the first day, mix 10 percent new food with 90 percent old food. Over the next week or so, up the percentage of new food by about 10 percent per day.

Watch and wait

Once you begin transitioning their food, watch your dog for any signs of stomach upset. If your pup shows that they are tolerating the food, with minimal symptoms of stomach upset, continue to increase the percentage of new food.

However, if your pup shows that they are not tolerating the new food, try stepping back a percentage for their next feeding. You may also try to give them a home remedy for a meal or two to see if that helps ease the transition.

Full transition

Once your dog shows that they are tolerating the new food, you should be able to continue to increase the amount of new food you are feeding. Eventually, 100-percent of their bowl should contain their new diet.

Once that’s completed, congratulations! You have successfully switched your dog’s food!

How to Switch Dog Food: Transitioning from Kibble to a Raw Diet

Raw feeding is a feeding practice eschews processed, cooked dog food in favor of a diet based on uncooked meats. While still somewhat controversial, proponents claim that it makes their dogs healthier and happier.

Switching from kibble to raw dog food is an undertaking that requires a fair amount of research on your part. Always check with your veterinarian to see if this change will be beneficial for your dog.

Research different raw feeding styles

Before diving in, you need to research raw feeding styles. The type of style you choose will help determine how to switch dog food from kibble to raw in the best way possible.

Prey or BARF?

There are two main types of raw feeding styles: Prey Model Raw Diet (PMR) and Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF).

Prey Model Raw focuses on a high percentage of muscle meat as well as bones and organs. It does not contain any vegetation.

Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods diet uses a mix of raw muscle meat, bones, organs as well as fruits and vegetables.

Run the calculations

Whichever model you choose, you need to calculate the amount of food you will need to feed. Use a calculator like the one on Perfectly Rawsome or consult your veterinarian for more information.

Total switch

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Unlike switching between kibble, switching from kibble to raw is done all at once. One day your dog will eat their old kibble and the next day, you will begin with the complete raw diet.

Even though the switch from kibble to raw is instantaneous, you still need to introduce raw meats slowly to give them time for their stomachs to get used to it.

New but bland

Perfectly Rawsome recommends beginning with raw white meats for the first week. Chicken is a great, affordable starter protein. Other options include turkey, rabbit, and Cornish game hen.

You may need to give your dog up to two weeks to get them used to the new food regime. Watch your dog’s stools and make sure they are firm and regular. This shows that they are tolerating their new bland diet well.

If your dog’s stool is loose for more than a day or two, remove any excess fat on the meat, like skin. Also, add more bone to your offerings which should also help firm up their stools.

Red raw

Once your dog shows they are tolerating their new raw diet well, you can start introducing new types of meat. The next phase is introducing red meats, like pork, lamb, and goat.

Again, watch your dog’s stool, which may turn darker due to the addition of red meat. But so long as the stools are firm and regular, your dog is doing fine!

Offal-ly delicious

Offal may be awful to some humans, but dogs do love it! Organ meat is very rich so be sure you are not feeding them too much as this can cause stomach upset.

As always, watch your dog’s stool for any signs of issues and adjust your feedings accordingly.

Belly Rubs

Whether you choose to switch your dog’s food for nutrition or cost, how you make that switch matters. Researching your choices and going slow is a sure recipe for success.

While the chances are that your dog is going to love whatever you give them, making the switch as painless as possible is good for both you and your dog.

We hope you found this helpful. If you’re thinking about switching your dog’s food, tell us what you’re planning on switching to in the comments!

What Is Chicken Meal in Dog Food? Critical Facts You Need to Know

what is chicken meal in dog foodwhat is chicken meal in dog food

As the owner of two beloved dogs, I often put a lot of thought into choosing their food. One of my dogs has food allergies, so it has made me pay a lot of attention to the ingredients in the food I feed her. That led me to wonder about some of the terms I see on the label. In particular, I found myself asking what is chicken meal in dog food?

This question sent me off in search of answers. I consulted several sources to discover the answer is rather complex. In simple terms, chicken meal is dried whole, clean chicken. That answer probably doesn't completely satisfy your curiosity because it didn't satisfy mine.

In fact, it left me with additional questions. So, I wanted to share what I learned with you about what is chicken meal in dog food, along with everything else I learned about dog food ingredients and labeling.

What I discovered made me a better dog parent and more informed about choosing higher quality foods for my pups, and I hope sharing it with you provides you with those same benefits.

What Is the Difference Between Chicken and Chicken Meal?

To really understand the answer to what is chicken meal in dog food, you need first to understand the difference between chicken and chicken meal. You may see both on a food label.

If you assume that they are similar because the names are similar, then you would be absolutely correct. The fact is that chicken meal is just dried chicken.

However, chicken is a broad term.

When it comes to dog food, chicken means something a little different than it would mean on a label for food you or I would eat.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), in dog food, it means a whole, clean chicken, which includes the flesh and skin and may include bones. Clean is referring to the removal of feathers, heads, feet and intestinal contents. Also, it doesn't include the organs and blood.

The manufacturer cleans the chicken before grinding it up and putting it in the food.

Now, chicken meal is that same chicken cooked until the water evaporates. Chicken used in dog food has a moisture content of around 70 percent, according to Blue Seal, whereas chicken meal has a moisture content of about 10 percent. That is the distinction between chicken and chicken meal. Everything else about them is the same.

Manufacturers use chicken meal because it allows them to make the hard kibble. Too much moisture prevents the ability to form hard nuggets. In addition, it also provides for more nutritional content in dog food because more chicken meal can be used than chicken because it is condensed.

Is Chicken Meal Safe for My Dog?

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Generally speaking, chicken meal is entirely safe for your dog.

It provides an excellent nutritional boost to foods because it has much higher levels of protein than whole chicken due to its condensed nature, and it is also an excellent source of glucosamine, which your dog needs for optimal health.

It is important to note that the quality of the meal makes a huge difference. The low-quality chicken meal may include things that are not as healthy for your dog, so always make sure to choose only high-quality foods.

In addition, some veterinarians may warn against using foods that contain chicken meal. This may be because of quality issues or because it is a processed ingredient.

You should always check with your veterinarian before changing your dog's diet. It is also important to be aware of possible allergies or food sensitivities, which could make chicken meal unsuitable for your dog. You might want to discuss what is chicken meal in dog food with your vet to get his or her opinion on it.

One note here is that chicken meal and other meals you may see on labels are not the same things. You should avoid foods that include any of the following words as these are not high-quality meals:

  • Animal meal
  • Meat meal
  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Meat and bone meal

How Does Chicken Meal Differ From Chicken By-Products?

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As you may have noticed in that list, there is something called chicken by-product meal. A chicken by-product has the potential to be good or bad.

A by-product includes those parts of the chicken not included in chicken or chicken meal ingredients. These ingredients might be any of the following:

  • Lungs
  • Spleen
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Feathers
  • Hide
  • Intestinal contents
  • Blood

In a high-quality chicken by-product meal, there will be the nutritious by-products, such as the liver and kidneys, which provide nutrients to your dog. Lower quality by-product meals include the unsavory things that are considered unsuitable for human consumption, such as the feathers and intestinal contents.

PetMD explains that some manufacturers may load a food with chicken by-products because they are very cheap. While by-products do save them money, they also give the food a protein boost so that it meets nutritional regulations. Essentially, it results in cheap, low-quality food that lacks in nutritional value. Source?

How Can I Tell What Ingredients Are in My Dog's Food?

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It is pretty clear that paying attention to the ingredients and quality of your dog's food is very important. Knowing what ingredients are in your dog's food is a matter of reading the label. You can get a lot of information this way.

The main thing that will tell you what is in the food is the ingredient list. Ingredients are on the list according to the amount in the food. So, the ingredient that is most prevalent in the food comes first on the list, the second most used item is next, and so forth.

The American Kennel Club does state that while the label lists the ingredients, you should always investigate to find out the quality of them. An excellent example of dog food with high-quality ingredients is Merrick Grain Free dog food.

Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food Recipes, Texas Beef, 25 Pound
  • #1 INGREDIENT: DEBONED MEAT, FISH OR POULTRY: Merrick Grain Free dog food recipes contain leading levels of high quality...
  • HEALTHY SKIN AND COAT, HIPS AND JOINTS: These grain free dog food recipes contain leading levels of Omega-3 and 6 fatty...
  • REAL WHOLE FOODS FOR OPTIMAL NATURAL NUTRITION: Merrick Grain Free dog food recipes include real, whole foods like sweet...

You may also want to check the guaranteed analysis. This tells you about the nutritional content. It includes information about the percentage of protein, fat, fiber, and water in the food.

What Do the Terms On the Label Mean?

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You will see many terms used on dog food. Many of these terms have no formal regulation. This means manufacturers can pretty much say whatever they want.

Many terms are merely marketing gimmicks. They are often misleading and can make you think a food is of higher quality than it actually is. Unregulated terms include premium and gourmet. When used on human foods, these generally indicate high quality, but that isn't always true for dog food.

Manufacturers also use terms on the label to make it seem like their food is better than another food, such as saying its food is better because it has chicken as the first ingredient when the competitor has chicken meal as the first ingredient. As you know now after learning what is chicken meal in dog food, the comparison is funny because they are basically the same thing.

What Terms Are Regulated?

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Some terms do have to meet regulation standards. "Natural" is one of those. The AAFCO monitors its use. It means that the ingredients are only from plant, animal, and mined sources. It cannot contain highly processed ingredients or contain chemical or synthetic ingredients.

The AAFCO also has rules for including certain terms referring to the ingredients based on percentages. If the label says "chicken dinner," it must contain 25 percent chicken. If it has the words "with chicken," then it must contain three percent chicken.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that all food must have the manufacturer's name and address on the dog food package. Many also include a phone number. You can use this information to find out more about the quality and to help you sort out marketing from reality.

In addition, most states regulate a minimum percentage of crude protein and crude fat that food must include. Also, states may regulate the maximum percentage of crude fiber and moisture content.

There are not organic labeling rules currently for pet food, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working on regulations similar to humans. Typically, organic means it is made without pesticides and fertilizers that are not natural and from sources that have no antibiotics or growth hormones. When used on dog food, it could mean almost anything since nobody is policing its use as of now.

The Bottom Line on What Is Chicken Meal in Dog Food

There is no doubt that you love your dog when you are willing to investigate what is chicken meal in dog food. This is a complex topic that leads to discussions of other issues.

Dog food is not as regulated as human food. The reality is that you have to be an advocate for your dog. You need to do the research and find the brands that sell the best quality foods with the highest quality ingredients.

It can take time to find the right food that will serve your dog's nutritional needs while not exposing him or her to bad or harmful things. But it is quite worth it. Feeding your dog good food can have significant impacts on your dog's health and general well-being.

So, now that you know what is chicken meal in dog food, you are a little more prepared to find and buy only the best food for your dog. Remember, though, to consult your veterinarian. He or she is a great resource when choosing food for your dog.

The Best Senior Dog Food You Can Get for Your Aging Pooch

best senior dog food

When it comes to older dogs, we often overlook switching to the best senior dog food. For many dog owners, our beloved friends seem not to age -- or so we think. However, diet can be an essential part of keeping your older dog healthy so they can enjoy their golden years.

This is why you need to realize that at some point in your four-legged friend’s life, you will have to switch their diet to senior dog food. For smaller breeds, that switch should take place at around 11 years of age while larger breeds should make the switch a couple of years earlier. Whether you pet is starting to show signs of growing old (weight gain and reduced activity) or not, it is still advisable that you switch their food at that age.

Understanding Dog Health

For you to enjoy your dog’s company for a long time, you will need to understand what makes for a happy and healthy dog. Just like human beings, our beloved pets have many requirements that we need to make sure they meet for them to enjoy optimal health. Let me show you four of them.


Yes, dogs understand love too. In fact, they probably understand the concept of love more than their handlers. Your dog needs love. To meet this need, play with them, pet and cuddle them, and give as much attention as possible.


Originally, dogs roamed the wild freely. I’m sure you agree that the wild was a pretty big playground. That means they got plenty of exercise. You don’t have to take him back to the wild, but you can take him to a nearby field, park, or just a few rounds around the block to keep him fit as a fiddle. Regular exercise will help your dog maintain his health and weight.

Proper food

A proper diet (in quality and size of portions) is essential in ensuring that your pooch lives the best, healthiest, and longest life it possibly can. That is why, as your dog ages, you need to get them the best senior dog food as it meets all the nutritional needs of an elderly dog.

And this brings us to the topic of our discussion today -- the best senior dog food.

Three Reasons Your Older Dog Needs Senior Dog Food

When the time comes to switch your aging dog's diet, you’ll have to consider getting them the best senior dog food available. After all, they are your best friend and as such deserve nothing but the best.

But what’s all the fuss about switching diet?

Change in dietary requirements

One of the biggest reasons you need to switch to senior dog food is that the dietary requirements of your dog change in its advanced years. For instance, it will need more protein and Omega-3 fatty acids while you reduce sodium and fats.

The best senior dog food ensures that your dog gets exactly the right balance of nutrients needed at this particular stage of their life.

Increased risk of health-related issues

As a dog gets older, it becomes more susceptible to many health-related issues. For example, bone density might reduce if calcium is in short supply, leading to arthritic joints. Other risks include inflammation, obesity, and a whole lot more.

Fortunately, senior dog food is formulated to help combat age-related health issues, increasing the chances of your senior dog to enjoying its golden years.

Decreasing energy levels

As dogs grow older, they begin to move a bit slower than they did when they were young, just like humans. The reduced activity levels can lead to obesity and other health issues. Senior dog food is formulated to give your older dog more energy so that it can maintain a healthy exercise regimen.

How We Reviewed the Best Senior Dog Foods

One thing you need to understand is that just like human beings, dietary requirements are not the same for every dog. To equip you with the most accurate information on the best senior dog food we took a few factors into consideration.


Not all dog food is the same. It is critical that you consider the formula of the food when choosing the best senior dog food. The best dog food formulas take into consideration the dietary and energy requirements of older dogs. They also take into account the fact that as dogs grow older, their ability to digest becomes more difficult.

Customer reviews

Who better to paint a clear picture of a satisfactory product than actual users? But because the dogs themselves can’t talk to us, we asked the people who understand them best -- their owners and handlers. These reviews include ease of transition and other factors that make them (and their dogs) happy with the senior dog food.

Ready to go shopping for the best senior dog food? Let’s get to it then.

The Best Senior Dog Food: 7 Brands You Can Trust

When it comes to getting your elderly four-legged friend the best senior dog food on the market, you have to be willing to spend a bit more than you would for regular dog food. But the investment is well worth it as it can not only improve the quality of your dog’s retirement years but may also help extend your pet’s lifespan.

NUTRO ULTRA Senior High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food with a Trio of...
  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins From Chicken, Lamb and Salmon
  • Features trio of protein from chicken, lamb, and salmon—chicken is the #1 ingredient—specially formulated for senior...
  • Our premium dog food kibble is made with high-quality, real ingredients and provides complete and balanced nutrition for...

Nutro’s ULTRA Senior Dog Food is one of the best senior dog foods you can find on the market. This rather pricey senior dog food has a lot of proteins sourced from free-range sources (chicken, salmon, and lamb) to ensure that your dog gets the best of the best. Not only do the proteins promote healthy muscles and tissues but other protein sources like salmon also contain omega-3 fatty acids that help combat issues such as inflammation.

Also included in the formula are more than 15 superfoods including flaxseed, sunflower oils, tomatoes, coconut, and whole egg among others. These superfoods are an excellent source of chondroitin and glucosamine, nutrients that promote a healthy coat and joints.

One of the biggest advantages of this formula is that it doesn’t contain wheat and corn. That makes it entirely safe for dogs that have food allergies. This also makes it easier to digest, especially since the only grain in the formula is rice, an easily digestible source of much-needed fiber.

If your pockets are deep enough, this is one senior dog food you definitely need to consider getting for your pooch. And if your pooch has lost some teeth (or simply prefers wet food), Nutro also makes Ultra chunks in gravy. 

Diamond Naturals Senior Real Meat Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food With...
  • High quality protein made with real CAGE FREE chicken, to maintain ideal body condition for senior dog; added...
  • A natural food with added vitamins & minerals; fruits, vegetables & SUPERFOODS for natural ANTIOXIDANTS; fatty acid...
  • Nutrient rich and HIGHLY digestible with PROPRIETARY, senior species specific probiotics that survive and thrive in the...

For dogs eight years and above, Diamond Naturals is a great senior dog food to switch to. Not only does the formula contain high-quality protein, but it also comes with a few other added nutrients that are essential to an aging dog's health.

This superb senior dog formula is packed with vitamins and minerals to ensure good health. But more than that, it also contains fatty acids and vegetables too. This is certainly one of the healthiest formulas you can find on the market.

The biggest advantage of Diamond Naturals senior dog food is the great antioxidant profile. Packed with great antioxidants that help mitigate the effects of stress that are heightened by aging, this senior dog food will ensure that your dog’s health remains optimal.

Is it the best senior dog food? It may or it may not be. But one thing is sure. It will definitely help keep your dog healthy, happy, and strong. 

Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food,...
  • ENJOY A LIFETIME OF WELLBEING: High quality proteins and wholesome grains are expertly balanced to deliver a complete...
  • OPTIMAL ENERGY AND HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEMS: Antioxidant rich ingredients support strong immune systems, balanced...
  • WHOLE BODY HEALTH: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics and taurine for a healthy heart

As the name suggests, Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food focuses on wellness. It aims at keeping your dog in perfect shape in his or her golden years. The formula is all natural and is low in calories to ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight.

Among other things, Wellness Complete Health contains delicious deboned chicken, peas, and barley. This not only makes for a tasty and healthy meal but a satisfying one as well. For the promotion of healthy hips and joints, glucosamine and chondroitin are added to the already healthy meal.

The downside to this otherwise perfect dinner is that many dog owners reported it to be a bit of a problem when it came to transitioning. Other than that, when their beloved pets got past this, they seem to love the taste and texture.

For a dog that will maintain its good health past its prime, this could be the best dog food you can switch to as your pooch gets older. Perhaps because of the transitioning problems, switching a bit earlier would be better with this one. 

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior Dry Dog Food,...
  • REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo foods always feature real meat as the first ingredient; High-quality protein from real...
  • FOR SENIOR DOGS: Blue Life Protection Formula senior dog food contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help support joint...
  • ANTIOXIDANT-RICH LIFESOURCE BITS: A precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals carefully selected by holistic...

This senior dog food by Blue Buffalo is another dog food that will definitely sit well in your elderly dog’s stomach. Blue Buffalo calls the food “Life Protection Formula” for very good reasons. It contains a nutrient profile formulated to support your dog’s vital functions as it gets older.

The formula contains a well-balanced mixture of chicken for protein and brown rice for carbohydrates (energy) as the main base. Additionally, BLUE’s proprietary LifeSource Bits formula includes seven powerful vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

BLUE Life Protection Formula is an excellent choice of senior dog food as it helps maintain muscle strength, joints, and your dog’s lovely coat. All this while keeping your pooch’s bowel healthy too as it doesn’t contain soy, wheat, or other hard to digest grains. 

Orijen Senior - 5 Lb
  • Biologically Appropriate Pet Food
  • Fresh Regional Ingredients
  • Never Out Sourced

One major dietary requirement for older dogs is good quality protein. And that’s exactly what Orijen senior dog food provides your dog with.

Some of the ingredients that make up the bulk of this food are free-run chicken and turkey, whole eggs, and wild-caught fish. This natural protein formula is also easy to digest, is flavorful, and promotes joint and hip health as well. Your dog’s coat will also benefit from the additives as they promote a healthy shiny coat.

Orijen’s natural formula is one of the best senior dog food formulations on the market.

AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice - Senior Dry Dog Food 26 lb
  • One (1) 26 Pound Bag: Avoderm Natural Senior Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food
  • Supports Healthy Joints: Natural Chondroitin Sulfate And Glucosamine Helps Support And Maintain Senior Dog'S Joints As...
  • Promotes Healthy Skin & Coat: Premium Natural Dry Dog Food Made With Omega-Rich Avocados To Promote Healthy Skin, Coat,...

The humble avocado is famous for being one of the best superfoods on the planet. And now it has been included in one of the best senior dog foods on the market -- AvoDerm Natural Health Food+.

AvoDerm’s natural formula includes other superfoods like alfalfa, tomato, and peas. That's on top of rich protein sources such as chicken, lamb, and salmon. This potent formula is certain to keep your dog’s tail wagging for years to come, not only because of the health benefits but also because of the great tasting flavor.

AvoDerm Natural Health Food+ is an excellent dog food for the senior canine members of the family. Besides giving your pooch a healthy coat and bones, it also helps fight inflammation thanks to its excellent antioxidant profile.

Instinct Raw Boost Senior Grain Free Chicken Meal Formula Natural Dry...
  • High-protein, grain-free kibble plus freeze dried raw pieces provides a nutrient rich diet and pure nutrition for...
  • Natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals, No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Grain-free and gluten-free nutrition, no corn, no wheat, no soy, no fillers

Nature’s Variety Raw Instinct senior dog food is an excellent choice for breeds (or individual dogs) that are prone to losing their sight as they grow older. This chicken and turkey based no-grain senior dog food also contains salmon. It provides omega-3 fatty acids and DHA for brain and eye health. Top that off with freeze-dried raw pieces and mealtime will be an event your dog will always look forward to.

For improved digestion, Nature’s Variety also contains probiotics that aid in digestion. This ensures that your pooch’s stomach never experiences discomfort.

One of the best qualities Nature’s Variety brings to the table is the high protein density. It also has a low moisture content that makes it more nutritious.

Nature’s Variety Raw Instinct is great for a more natural and organic diet. It is one of the best senior dog foods you can get for your furry friend. 

Comparison Table

The Best Senior Dog Food -- Because Fido Deserves It

There’s no question about it. You need to get your aging dog the best senior dog food. It is one way you show how much you love them after all. If your dog is approaching its senior years (8+ years), giving them the best diet to enhance its strength and health is the least you can do for them.

So which is the best senior dog food for your beloved pet? Well, they are all highly rated and will definitely make for a great meal for your dog. But if I were to make a choice, I would go for BLUE Buffalo Life Protection Formula. It strikes the perfect balance between nutritional and economic value.

If you have a senior dog, we would love to hear your recommendations in the comments section below.

Image: Public Domain US, Max Pixel, via Wikimedia Commons.

Cesar Dog Food: The Best for Your Furry Friend’s Nutrition

cesar dog food

My dog recently started having problems digesting his food, and I decided it was time to switch dog food. I'd heard a lot about Cesar dog food and wondered if it was the right food for my fur baby. Feeding my dog quality dog food has always been incredibly important to me. After all, he is my baby, and I want nothing but the best for him.

Cesar dog food claims to be that brand. They say they provide quality food that pets will love, but is that true? Is this dog food worth all the hype?

What is Cesar Dog Food?

Cesar dog food is a brand that was created for small dogs to give them gourmet, savory meals that they could enjoy. The food brand, owned by Mars, Inc., is one of several types of products the company produces. Marcs also makes chocolate, food, drinks, and more. Also, Cesar dog food, the company also makes tasty dog treats for your furry friends.

Cesar Dog Food FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the dog food.

Where is Cesar dog food made?

Do they have both wet and dry dog food?

Is there a recall on Cesar’s Wet Dog Food?

What are some of the benefits of this product?

How We Reviewed Each Brand of Cesar Dog Food

We made our list by looking at the ingredients, nutritional guidelines and customer reviews of Cesar dog food on the Cesar website. Some of the dietary guidelines include a calorie count in each package of both dry and wet dog food, and how crude protein, saturated fat, crude fat minimum, and crude fiber are in each of the cans of food.

Some of the ingredients include flavor packets that are available to enhance the taste of each pack of dog food. Each flavor packet is formulated explicitly to be established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for maintenance. Other ingredients in this dog food brand include water, beef by-products, animal liver, meat by-products, beef, and chicken, as well as chicken by-products and calcium carbonate.

Cesar Dog Food Products

The variety of dog food that Cesar's offers include Cesar Home Delights, Cesar Filets, Cesar Sunrise, Cesar Classics, Cesar Savory Delights, as well as Cesar Puppy and Senior. Below are some of these products and reviews of each of them.

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Cesar’s Home Delights come in 18 flavors including broccoli with brown rice, ribeye, and porterhouse steak with veggies and potatoes, to name a few. There is such a wide variety for your fury baby. 

The Home Delights food has pretty high ratings on Amazon. Most customers say their dogs love the food. However, some complained that their dogs do not like it.

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Cesar Dry Food comes in a variety of flavors including prime rib, new york strip, and filet mignon. These dishes even have their food in individual sauce packets. These enticing flavors will make your pup very happy. The food is 100 percent nutritionally complete, so your pup will get all of the vitamins and minerals they need each day.

Overall, the Cesar Filets gets great ratings. Most of the customers who reviewed it said their dogs enjoy it, but there were some complaints that other people's dogs disliked the food.

CESAR Soft Wet Dog Food Classic Loaf in Sauce Grilled Steak and Eggs...
  • Contains twenty-four (24) 3.5 oz. easy peel trays of CESAR Wet Dog Food Classic Loaf in Sauce Grilled Steak and Eggs...
  • Crafted without grains and with real meat, Beef as the #1 Ingredient
  • CESAR Wet Dog Food is complete and balanced and fortified with vitamins and minerals to help dogs of all sizes,...

Another flavor that Cesar’s offers for puppies is the Cesar Sunrise. This flavor comes with grilled steak and egg, smoked bacon and eggs and chicken and cheddar cheese souffle to name a few of them. You can get your dog’s day off to a great start with any of these morning recipes. These enticing dishes will have your pups licking their chops with excitement.

CESAR Soft Wet Dog Food Classic Loaf in Sauce Filet Mignon and...
  • Contains two (2) 12 count cases of 3.5 oz. trays of CESAR Wet Dog Food Classic Loaf in Sauce Filet Mignon & Porterhouse...
  • Crafted without grains and with real meat, Beef as the #1 ingredient
  • CESAR Wet Dog Food is complete and balanced and fortified with vitamins and minerals to help dogs of all sizes,...

Cesar Classics include flavors such as chicken and beef; chicken and veal; chicken and liver and others. Some other flavors of the classic recipes include oven roasted chicken, chicken, and veal, as well as duck. Why not give your dogs a variety of choices? 

Cesar Classics has great ratings on Amazon. Customers are very happy with it overall, but some said the food made their dogs sick.

How it Compares to Other Brands

Cesar dog food did well in an overall taste test. Compared to other brands of dog food it is still one of the most popular selling brands on the market today.

Blue Buffalo Dog Food

blue buffalo

Blue Buffalo is a grain-free brand that comes with a variety of dog food including Blue Life Protection, Blue Wilderness, Blue Freedom and Blue Basics and Blue Wilderness Veterinarian Diet. These offer your dog the wholesome nutrition to support a healthy and active lifestyle at any age, with food for puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs.

Each variety of Blue Buffalo has unique benefits including high-quality ingredients which support everything from a puppy’s skin and coat health to muscle, bone and cognitive development.

Blue Buffalo has great reviews on Amazon. However, some customers warn of different colors and texture in the dog food bought on Amazon rather than the same brand of dog food from a pet store. Some even complained that their dogs developed stomach issues when eating Blue Buffalo food bought from Amazon.

Pure Balance Dog Food

pure balance

Pure Balance is the second dog food that we are comparing to Cesar's. It is a dog food that is both corn and grain-free. Like Cesar's, it comes in different varieties of food including puppy and adult. Each variety of Pure Balance food helps support a healthy immune system as well as healthy coats in dogs of all ages.

Some of the variety of food includes Pure Balance adult beef, vegetables and brown rice stew, Pure Balance adult chicken, vegetables and brown rice stew, and Pure Balance puppy chicken, vegetables, and brown rice stew.

A lot of customers are saying that their dogs love it and have been healthy since eating this brand of dog food. One of the complaints is that Pure Balance is more expensive on Amazon than at Walmart according to some reviewers.

Some recommend buying Pure Balance at Walmart instead of buying it from Amazon.

Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food

science diet

The third brand that we are comparing to Cesar dog food is Hill's Science Diet dog food. This brand is plant-based dry dog food. There are a wide variety of foods to choose from with this brand including, puppy, adult, small and toy,  and weight. They even have food for pregnant dogs.

Some of the main features of this brand include maintaining strong, lean muscles and ideal body weight for your dog. They also offer high-quality, easy-to-digest ingredients. They provide a flavorful, nutritious meal with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

A lot of customers claim that they were better off buying it on Chewy.com to get better prices and discounts.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of buying Cesar dog food.


Dogs taste the difference with Cesar, while you see the difference in their appearance and eating habits. Some dog owners love Cesar dog food as the choice for their pups. 

Some customers say that the senior brand of this dog food is excellent for older dogs and helps improve their digestion. Even some of the dogs without many teeth can enjoy the flavor and texture of this food with ease.

Some of the customers say that they love both the flavor and texture of the senior dog food. Many other customers say that since their dogs have been eating Cesar's their digestive problems have virtually disappeared.

Puppies also have an easier time digesting their food and have healthier stomachs. Reviewers warn other customers that their dogs literally won't eat anything other than Cesar dog food. They even say the food is addictive because the dogs enjoy it so much.


Some customers didn't care for Cesar dog food when they read about some of the other ingredients. When you take a closer look at this dog food, two ingredients have been raising concern in dog owners. They are Menadione sodium bisulfite complex and sodium tripolyphosphate. They neurotoxins and linked to toxicity and mutations.

The FDA deems that these two ingredients are safe for canines, you can research the side effects that these two ingredients can cause your puppy.

A voluntary recall was issued for some Cesar Filet Mignon wet dog food in 2016. The food had small traces of plastic in certain cans of the dog food. The plastic entered into the cans of dog food during the production process. Read more about the notice of the recall on Cesar's website.

Our Verdict

Small puppies are the cutest. They put a smile on your face every time you see one. You always want to feed them the best possible food. A lot of times, though, it isn’t easy to cook them the gourmet meal that you think they deserve.

That is where Cesar dog food comes into play. With gourmet recipes, you can make the perfect selection as to what dog food is right for your fur baby.