Once I decided to change Chester and Gretel’s diet to grain-free, I dove into researching the different options out there. When I started I didn’t know much beyond” it’s a good thing to do.” I started out with some basic research. After that, the extensive research began.
As you have seen in some of my past posts, I tend to geek out on researching stuff – the best gear, the best outdoor clothing, the best food, etc – so this is a warning that I may have gone a little overboard here. Ha, ha. My hope is that someone out there finds this information useful.
I picked some of the most popular grain-free brands and spent a lot of time researching them. I found most of my information on DogFoodAdvisor.com and specific manufacturer websites. I found some conflicting information between the two but the numbers didn’t vary significantly. I used amazon.com or other online price search to come up with the average price per pound. I put this chart together so they could be compared all in one place.
|Product||Protein %||Fat %||Carb %||Fiber %||Calories/cup||Price/lb|
|Canidae Pure Elements||34||18||26||3||498||$4|
|Wellness Core Original||38||18||36||4||421||$2.32|
|Evo Small Bites||42||22||12||2.5||537||$2.39|
|Evo Red Meat||42||22||15||2.5||537||$2.50|
|Avoderm Grain Free||24||13||54||5||360||$2.73|
|Taste of the Wild (TOW High Prarie)||32||18||36||4.4||370||$2.3|
|Great Life Grain Free Buffalo (Also potato free)||30||13||25||4||431||$2.38|
|Nature’s Domain (Costco similar to TOW)||27||16||50||3.3||340||$0.80|
The current, traditional kibble I feed Chester and Gretel, Avoderm, contains 29% protein, 11% fat, 52% carbs, 3.9% fiber and 360 calories/cup. That is really quite good for a traditional kibble but because I am making a change, I wanted to make some improvements.
The first, major improvement would be to significantly reduce the carbohydrates. It was hard for me to find recommended carbohydrate amounts for active dogs online. All of the information I found that gave exact numbers did so for protein and fat only. Based on my basic research and the fact that carb percentages aren’t listed, I going with the theory that less is better. I don’t want to drastically cut them out right away though. To me, a 15% reduction in carbs over what we currently feed is significant. I circled the carbohydrate levels in the foods above that were 37% or less.
Next, I wanted one with significantly more fat since most of the energy for active dogs comes from fat. I found out that “to optimize the performance of a hardworking dog, it is best to feed a performance food that contains 20 % fat” to maintain a healthy weight. Our current food contains 11% so that definitely needs to be increased. I then circled the fat content of those foods, that got circles based on carbs, that were 18% or greater.
The protein in Avoderm is already fairly high for standard kibble it recommended that hardworking dogs get at least 30% of their calories from protein. I then circled the protein content of those foods, that got circles based on carbs and fat, that were 30% or greater.
Calories are important for me since I don’t want to have to reduce the amount of food I give them much or any since I already only give them about ¾ cup a day. Since the vet said they could stand to gain a little weight, a slight increase in calories won’t hurt them. The consensus I found on the internet is that an active, 10 lb dog needs 400 to 450 calories a day. That is 40 – 90 more calories than our current food. I then circled the calories of the foods that previously received circles that were between 360 and 450 calories/cup.
I looked at which foods received a circle under all 4 categories above. I was left with three brands: Wellness Core Original, Taste of the Wild High Prarie and Acana Grasslands.
All three foods were between $2.30 and $3.00 per pound and 3.5 to 4.4 grams of fiber – both which were acceptable to me. I decided to pick the one that is in the middle protein-wise which is Acana Grasslands so that is the one we are going to start with.
It’s a bonus for me that Health Mutt carries the Acana brand because I would like to shop there to support a great independent pet store. For those times that I am crunched for time, Mr. Chewy’s carries it too.
The bottom line is that there is not ONE best food out there for your dog. Each dog is different. I have found that Acana Grasslands is likely to be the best choice for small, active dogs like us. However, we may have to try a few before we find the true best fit.
For now, we will will keep you posted on how Acana Grasslands is working for us.