Grade & rate dog food

Dog food. What grade is it? How does it rate?

(Kelly: april 10, 2008)
How to GRADE your dogs food. My dog has had some subtle health problems that my vet was not concerned with, but I was (dry skin, lack of interest in food, etc). Now I'm thinking it may be due to the fact that I fed her Purina One. I decided to switch to Authority Harvest Baked for a couple of weeks and see if that helps. What food do you feed?

Start with a grade of 100:
01--For every listing of by-product, subtract 10 points
02--For every non-specific animal source (meat or poultry, meat, meal or fat--reference, subtract 10 points
03--If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
04--For every grain mill run or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
05--If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. ground brown rice, brewers rice, rice flour are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
06--If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
07--If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
08--If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points
09--If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
10--If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
11--If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
12--If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
13--If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
14--If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
15--If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:
01--If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
02--If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
03--If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
04--If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
05--If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
06--If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
07--If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
08--If the food contains barley, add 2 points
09--If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
10--If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
11--If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
12--For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count chicken and chicken meal as only one protein source, but chicken and as 2 different sources), add 1 point
13--If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
14--If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point
94-100+ = A 86-93 = B 78-85 = C 70-77 = D <70 = F

Dog Food scores:
Alpo Prime Cuts / Score 81 C
Artemis Large/Medium Breed Puppy / Score 114 A+
Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+
Authority Harvest Baked Less Active / Score 93 B
Beowulf Back to Basics / Score 101 A+
Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F
Blackwood 3000 Lamb and Rice / Score 83 C
Blue Buffalo Chicken and Rice / Score 106 A+
Burns Chicken and Brown Rice / Score 107 A+
Canidae / Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+
Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F
Diamond Lamb Meal and Rice / Score 92 B
Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A
Diamond Performance / Score 85 C
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Venison and Brown Rice / Score 106 A+
Dick Van Patten's Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+
EaglePack Holistic / Score 102 A+
Eukanuba Adult / Score 81 C
Eukanuba Puppy / Score 79 C
Flint River Senior / Score 101 A+
Foundations / Score 106 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb--by Solid Gold / Score 93 B
Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D
Innova Dog / Score 114 A+
Innova Evo / Score 114 A+
Innova Large Breed Puppy / Score 122 A+
Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+
Member?s Mark Chicken and Rice / Score 84 C
Merrick Wilderness Blend / Score 127 A+
Merrick HomeStyle Blends / Average Score 125 A+
Merrick Beef N More / Score 125 A+
Nature?s Recipe / Score 100 A
Nature?s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison and Rice / Score 116 A+
Nature?s Variety Raw Instinct / Score 122 A+
Nutra Nuggets Super Premium Lamb Meal and Rice / Score 81 C
Nutrience Junior Medium Breed Puppy / Score 101 A+
Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B
Nutro Max Adult / Score 93 B
Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice / Score 98 A
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Wheat Free / Score 86 B
Nutro Natural Choice Senior / Score 95 A
Nutro Ultra Adult / Score 104 A+
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
Premium Edge Chicken, Rice and Vegetables Adult Dry / Score 109 A+
Pro Nature Puppy / Score 80 C
Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach / Score 94 A
Purina Benful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Purina One Large Breed Puppy / Score 62 F
Royal Canin Boxer / Score 103 A+
Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+
Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F
Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A
Solid Gold / Score 99 A
Summit / Score 99 A
Timberwolf Organics Wild & Natural Dry / Score 120 A+
Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison--by Solid Gold / Score 97 A

(Mary: april 10, 2008)
Thanks for the ratings on the dog food. I saw that Nature's Variety Raw scored very well; and that Science Diet scored very, very badly. It's good to know that we went from bad to good: we put Monkey on a diet a week or so ago. He weighs 93 pounds, and he's supposed to weigh 65 pounds, MAX. Most of it is my fault for giving so MANY treats for motivation. He's so food motivated that it was the easiest way to train him and keep him doing what I wanted him to do. I cut WAY back on treats. I switched him to the Nature's Variety Raw Instinct - which is a RAW meat product. You buy it in the form of frozen (8 oz.--patties. I believe in it because it is all raw meat plus ground raw bone and a few vegetables (no more than a tablespoon or so). He was eating Science Diet dry. I started thinking about how all the dog foods are made mostly of grains and/or corn. I thought it didn't make sense to feed a carnivore more grains than meat. He has only been on the raw food diet for a week and a half. He doesn't seem like he's begging for more food than normal. We weigh him in at the vet's on April 25 to see how much weight he's lost. I'll let you know. So far I'm happy with it.

(Lauren M: april 22, 2008)
When I train my food motivated dog, I mentally calculate his food/treat proportion.
If he got lots of treats, less in his meals.
I use his regular food for treats. He works for his food.
You can do this with wet food too.
I will mix up his meal, then we go outside for some drills on his agility course. His motivation is at his peak when I do this. I get the best effort (and fastest attempts--with this method.

I reward in spoonfulls, or I let him feed for a few bites, remove , do a drill, and when we accomplish the task, we praise and give some more feeding time.

He is fast, because he wants some more feeding time.

I give him more feeding time (or, amount of food--depending on how hard the task was (like, if we had to re-attempt it a few times).

I give more veggies with the Nature's Variety Raw Diet. I have frozen portions of veggie smoothies I make. Studies have shown that diets high in antioxidants expands the life time. Best source is vitamin C, which is best from veggies and fruits.

It also helps a pet lose weight because the calorie consumption is half of their regular diet of dry, canned, or raw meat diets.

As a note to those who are thinking of increasing the fats and protein for their dogs: do so very gradually, if your dog has had the same food all of his/her life, the sudden increase in protein and fat could cause pancreasitis (spell?), which is deadly. Some dogs' pancreases can handle it, but many May not. Don't find out the hard way!

(Janine: april 17, 2008. Foxfire Kennel)
That's interesting. The Purina list only had the 'grocery store' choices. I feed Purina Pro Plan and have for years and have bred Best in Show Champions and National Specialty Winners. It is probably the most inexpensive high quality dog food on the Market.

What makes it so inexpensive is the weight circles. If you feed very much food and aren't loaded it is awesome. I get it after all the discounts for around $15/ 37.5 bag.

Another reason I am very loyal to Purina is they do so much for the dog show community in the St. Louis Area. Have you ever been to Purina Farms? They let the us have dog shows there for free at an awesome setting. Doesn't get much better than that. Otherwise the shows would be out in a field probably.

The best dog food is the kind you cook. Plus all dogs need real meat. Unless as mentioned above your dog has the very common and deadly issue with pancreatitis. Read Dr. Pitcairn's book..not only will your doggie love you for it, you will never have to treat for fleas again. Why no fleas? Parasites lock onto dogs that are not real healthy. When your dogs eat a great, healthy diet fleas are erradicated.

(april 18, 2008)
Another good site is --It gives you reasoning why a food is or isn't good. The scale goes from 1-6 stars, and you want to get a food that is at least 4 stars. Purina Pro Plan is only 1 star. Feed Canidae, with good results.

(Janine: april 19, 2008. Foxfire Kennel)
Well I personally wouldn't believe everything you read on the net. Anyone can make a webpage. I put more credence in articles from university vet programs. It depends what you are looking for and how much you want to pay as far as food goes.

Alot of people try to analyze dog food themselves and are probably not qualified to do this. Dogs have special requirements and there are specialists with alot more knowledge than I so I don't rely on my own knowledge.

Some people don't like Purina Pro Plan as it has corn in it and corn allergies are common but I've never had a problem with it myself. I get great results and my dogs love it.

It's all commercially prepared and is great for convenience but there is nothing like feeding fresh whole food. That's why I like Dr. Pitcairns' recipes. They are tailored to a dog's needs and my dogs just love them. Dogs are meat eaters and need real protein. Most show people feed their dogs a certain amount of real meat. But like mentioned I would check with your vet first..pancreatitis can be a killer disease.

B.A.R.F is supposed to be an excellent diet (raw). I haven't had the nerve to feed it to my toys they don't have the best teeth esp as they age. All that and I'm a vegetarian. but I'll still buy meat for the puppies.

(Heather: april 21, 2008)
I have raised Moxie (8month old giant schnauzer mix--on a totally raw diet. Ideally I would feed prey model raw (all meat/bone/organ. no veggies, etc), but for personal convenience I feed Oma's Pride commerical raw diet ( combination with raw meat from the grocery store. She gets mostly beef, chicken, lamb and eggs; as well as all kinds of random meats for variety (salmon, buffalo, venison, green tripe, etc). I think she's doing quite nicely on it, and couldn't be happier. She has beautiful teeth, silky coat and zero mouth/body odor.

When my elderly yorkie (now sadly passed on--was switched to raw, I used to feed Nature's Variety raw patties.  I liked it (my mom still feeds it), but because I need such large quantites now for my big dog I swtiched to Oma's Pride.  I ended up liking it better, as the Nature's Variety patties always seemed freezer burnt to me and had very little moisture.  The Oma's Pride seems more fresh (so much so, I almost wanted to cook the buffalo for myself one day..haha).

If anyone wants to learn about prey model raw, I highly recommend the Rawfeeding yahoo group.  It is an excellent place to ask questions and learn about raw feeding....or just listen in and learn from others experiences to see if it's a good fit for you and your pooch.  It's surprisingly easy and kinda fun!

(april 26, 2008)
I'm feeding Frosty Solid Gold: Barking at the Moon because it's grain free and after several unexplained bouts of diarrhea (and several hundred in vet bills to figure out why!--I figured I'd try it out. I had also been told that GSDs have a tendency to have problems with this. So far, it seems to help and Frosty absolutely loves it! More than the Canidae and he never liked the junk food stuff my sister was feeding him...

My friend Justin also created a list of all of the top dog foods and where to buy them locally for the best price, I don't think he included any of the raw foods, though. If anyone wants it, let me know and I'll ask him for it.

(Mary: april 27, 2008)
Mandy, if Justin has that list of dog foods on the computer, upload it to the FILES link on this website. It sounds like good information for everybody to have. I've had Monkey on the raw food diet since the end of March. I have seriously cut back on all treats and handouts. But when we went to the vet for his one-month weigh in, he'd GAINED 1.5 pounds. Oh, Lordy, where have I gone wrong?! So, we're redoubling our efforts. No treats at all whatsoever! And when he acts like he just NEEDS something, I give him a little bit (1/8 to 1/4--of his raw food patty that will be part of his normal rations anyway. He gets two raw food patties a day. We feed him at about 4 p.m. He's eating the Nature's Variety that I buy at The Canine Center in Rock Hill. The vet will weigh him again on May 23. She will test him for Cushing's disease (she already gave me a urine cup to collect and bring in the sample at his May weigh in). If he's gained weight or not lost any, and if he does not have Cushing's, she wants to switch him to a reduced calorie dry dog food. So, let's keep our fingers crossed that Monkey has lost a little weight this time around!

(Lauren M: april 28, 2008)
Purina did have some products on recall: Mighty Dog Pouches, and I think it was Alpo canned.

Mary, you May have to adjust the amount. Her activity level will also influence it. You don't have to feed as much because these are protein and fat packed, rich diets.

I would add water to make her feel like she's getting more. You can also partially substitute canned pumpkin or ground veggies. She can eat double the volume of veggies for the same volume of the meat.

A low carb diet probably works better for a dog than a human since dogs are more carnivorous. Canned food is low in carbs and high in meat with a lot of water in them. I think about this concept when I have a hungry dog who just wants to feel full. Meat is more filling than carbs, and adding some water is a calorie free way to make them feel fuller.

You can also adjust the amount according to the treats she gets, she doesn't have cut treats cold turkey! Just make the adjustments! Maybe she'd like bits of carrot or fruit for a treat.

(Janine: april 30, 2008)
Well hopefully no one on the list feeds dogs crap like mighty dog or alpo.

As far as guessing at your dog's nutritional needs I would also warn against this. There are recommendations by the experts, that have studied years and do this for a living. Although well meaning guessing does your dogs no favors.

For training treats I feed chicken breasts sauteed in olive oil. I cook till slightly done, chopping in small pieces beforehand. I start on high temp to brown. Then turn off oven with the lid on the pan and set for alittle bit. Drain on a paper towel..then place on a jelly roll pan in the freezer to freeze. When frozen put in a big zip loc baggie. This prevents the treats from sticking to each other in the bag. To reheat stick a couple of pieces in a zip loc baggie and put in microwave for 10-20 seconds...this will finish cooking the chicken but not make it so hard it is dry.

I then put my treats in a bait bag...breaking off tiny pieces to give to the guys. Then dogs quickly learn when the velcro is ripped to pay attention..I finally teach them to strike a pose when they hear the velcro and to gait and pose with hand signals essentially using no bait at the dog show. It is the same concept as a clicker. You are using a sound to make the dog pay attention and reward them.

They love this treat and it's good for them. The bad part is...if you have dogs loose in the neighborhood they will all be following you down the street like the pied piper.

(Melissa: april 30, 2008)
Glad to see the information on the rating scale that was provided... We all put on weight in my house and all (except me!--are on Innova Low Fat. Just picked up a BUNCH of healthy treats from this place in Maplewood (Airdale Antics--they had a huge selection of treats and I mention it because they sell Frozen meat cubes for the dogs! I bought them a bag of chicken and a bag of bison. was going to go for the a different meat, but thought bison would be good for them... any thoughts?

I've noticed a difference in my dogs over the last year that i've switched them to organic and all natural foods/treat. occassionally, i'll give them what I would consider to be an unhealthy treat, but i['m pretty picky about what they eat. Reading some of these posts has been very helpful.

Anyway, I did buy some vitamin supplements for their food tonight. used to put alaskan salmon oil on their food, but haven't been feeding them vitamins. any thoughts? does anyone have their dogs on vitamins?

(Lauren M: May 5, 2008)
I supplement only because I have my dog on a performance diet. Its higher in protein and fats and antioxidants (flavonoids). I add very small amounts of vitamin B-complex, vit-c, glucosamine MSM, selenium (can be toxic if too much, often doesn't need supplementing), fish oil without vit A or D, and with vitamin E (especially if adding fats).

I add about 1/2 teaspoon of a super oil mixture of coconut, olive, grape seed, and sunflower oil (use for humans too--to a meat diet with an assortment of ground veggies.

Most of those vitamins are in the veggies and meat already. Providing lots of variety of veggies will ensure a good source of antioxidants, vit C, and flavinoids (a source of antioxidants)

I usually add a high protein dog food (dry or canned--to this mixture. But he has been on a meatier since the end of March. We just got best of show in both Mixed Breed Dog Club shows on Saturday, and the judge on the second show commented on his muscular built.

I really attribute that to his drafting and backpacking, even though we do that minimally.

(Janine: May 8, 2008)
ok, so where does one find the foods that scored the best? i've been feeding my animal pals purina one since it's list of ingredients start with meat of a some sort. now i'm thinking otherwise. does this also apply to cat food? i looked on the petsmart website but didn't find any of the premium foods. could someone let me know where to look? thanks.

(Lauren M: May 14, 2008)
Canine Center in Glendale
The Lucky Dog in Webster Groves
Airedale Antics in Maplewood
One Lucky Mutt in Wildwood
Wolfgang's Petstop in CWE
Four Muddy Paws in Soulard
Treats Unleashed in Chesterfield, St. Peters, and Columbia
Pets in the City in Soulard

Petco and Petsmart now have the Avoderm line, but I try to stick to local retailers.
This list is only the spots that cover my range of motion. There are many others.
Many of these foods' website have retail locators that can list who sell their food by area.

(Terri: May 19, 2008)
My food scored 120! My kids do so well on their raw diet. I'd never dream of feeding them any low-grade dry food like Purina, Iams, or Science Diet, no matter what Purina does for the community. If Purina started backing legislation that discouraged backyard breeding and/or puppymilling, I'd support them financially, though I still wouldn't eat it or feed it to my dogs. --I think I must have had 3 topics going through my head when I replied....I really mixed topics-sorry! Purina is a nice company that's generous to the community. That really doesn't have anything to do with milling or food quality. I really need more coffee!!!!

(Terri: May 21, 2008)
just noticed earlier in the thread that Janine didn't want to feed BARF (raw--due to tooth issues.  The BARF I use is ground, so even toothless dogs can eat it.  I also noticed that she's quite a devoted mommy for cooking for her babies :-- You're right, dogs CRAVE meat.  Last year, my 5 month old foster puppies were content and calm when they ate their kibble.  But, when I had half a chicken out to feed my own baby, they turned into wild wolves, ripped it out of his mouth and ran out the door! 

My previous issues with raw was getting affordable, high-grade food...making my own sometimes gave my dogs the runs.  I first tried Dr. Billinghurst's mail order raw, which mine did great on.  But, it was pretty expensive.  I now feed Nature's variety, also ground:

The only warning new BARF feeders should heed is that a sloooow transition is needed.  Loose stools are certain otherwise.  However, once you smell and see the difference in the new smaller, non-smelly poo, you'll never go back unless finances force it.

(Lauren M: May 21, 2008)
It is more supplemental than anything. I caution others about bones. You must be careful even with ground bones. If they were feral, there would be skin and hair to protect their intestines. Even if digested, little chucks can tear up their intestines, so I would recommend not feeding ground bone in their meals everyday. Nature's Variety has been a good product for our dogs. The rock solid stool says it all. But, the bones in canned fish is good for them (and us). Also, if the dog gets too much bone, they could experience constipation since it hardens toe stool.

A good treat are those marrow bone slices for cheap at Dierbergs. They get them frozen and chew the marrow out. Sometimes they get some bone, but not much, then I discard the leftover bone into the woods for the raccoons or opossums.