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Why Buy Premium Dog Food?

As consumers we are naturally drawn to catchy phrases that marketers employ to extol the benefits of a brand and to capture our attention so that we will purchase their brand.  On dog food packaging we may find descriptive terms such as premium, organic and natural and associate that brand with quality dog food that is healthy for your dog.  We may also associate that brand as being better than other brands.  Because packaging can be deceiving, one should keep in mind that the ingredient label is where one should look to ensure that the brand is truly a quality brand.  Why?  Because the FDA has no guidelines when it comes to such claims that a product is premium or natural.  According to the FDA’s website on Pet Food Labels it states that:

“Many pet foods are labeled as "premium," and some now are "super premium" and even "ultra premium." Other products are touted as "gourmet" items.  Products labeled as premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products. The term "natural" is often used on pet food labels, although that term does not have an official definition either.” (1)

However the FDA recognizes the AAFCO’s (Association of American Feed Control Officials, non-profit group that sets pet food guidelines) definition of natural as it states that the

“AAFCO has developed a feed term definition for what types of ingredients can be considered “natural” and “Guidelines for Natural Claims” for pet foods. For the most part, "natural" can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product.” (2)

That being said there are brands however, that do contain good if not top quality ingredients.  These are the true premium brands that offer various health benefits for your dog and thus, is a good reason to feed your dog a true premium dog food. These premium brands…

  1. Tend to have more identifiable animal protein which plays an important role in your dog’s health.  A diet higher in animal protein mimics the dog’s ancestral diet; that is, although dogs have evolved as omnivores capable of eating both meat and plants, they are genetically designed to be meat eaters.  Plus, quality animal proteins provide the essential amino acids that are vital for your dog’s growth, development and sustainment of life.  There are ten such essential amino acids and they are essential in the sense that the dog’s body cannot manufacture them.  Thus, they must come from the diet.

  2. Tend to have more natural fat from a quality named source ingredient such as chicken fat or herring oil.  A higher fat content not only mimics the ancestral diet, but it also helps to promote healthy skin and coat as well as provide energy and essential fatty acids.

  3. Tend to be lower in carbohydrates.  Like fat, carbs are a source of energy.  However, today’s kibble tend to have a greater amount of carbs than the dog’s ancestral diet.  This may be because carbs have a longer shelf life and are abundant which makes them cheaper than fat or animal protein.

  4. Tend to be free of artificial flavoring, coloring and preservatives.  Rather you will find natural source preservatives such as mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E) replacing artificial preservatives.  Quality ingredients will already be rich in flavors and coloring serves no beneficial purpose but to please the human eye.  Essentially if quality ingredients are used, then artificial flavoring, coloring and preservatives are unnecessary.

But keep in mind that because each dog is different, each dog has his/her nutritional requirements.  Thus, finding the right food for your dog means taking the time to understand the basics of the ingredient label and observing how the food performs in your dog.  Not all dog food are created equal.  A true premium dog food with quality ingredients will play an important role in your dog’s overall health.  In the end your dog will be happy and you will be happy.

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Pet Food Labels – General,

  2. Sagman, M. Premium, Gourmet or Natural Dog Food…Really?