Dog Food Nutrition 101: How Good is Your Dog’s Food?


When I lost my last Collie last fall, he was on a very specialized diet with prescription dog food augmented by boiled chicken and rice cooked in chicken broth.

He had suffered a severe bout of pancreatitis a few months earlier, at the age of 3, and suddenly had to be put on a very strict diet that eliminated even a taste of “people food” and even mainstream, popular dog foods that our four-legged friends had eaten for years.

Though he certainly didn’t object to this new menu, especially when the cooked chicken entered the picture, he became sicker and sicker, displaying a variety of unrelated symptoms that seemed to point to a bigger, more serious neurological disorder that may have first shown itself with the compromising of the pancreas.

I had to put him down at the end of October last year, just a few months shy of his 4th birthday.

I wasn’t really aware, and I’m sure most dog owners aren’t, that some of the most popular brands of dog foods don’t score very well when it comes to nutrition.

I don’t think the lack of awareness comes from dog owners not caring about their pets. Frankly, no one ever loved a dog more than I love mine.

But when a brand of dog food has been around for 100 years or more, we tend to trust that brand. Especially in a society as quick to sue as ours, it’s not an unreasonable assumption that dog food makers who routinely “poison” dogs would have been litigated out of existence a long time ago.

Still, armed with a new understanding that many popular brands of dog food contain far more fat and filler than high-quality ingredients, I started doing a bit of research when I got my latest Collie last November.

He was 50% underweight when I brought him home, although I didn’t realize at the time how underweight he actually was. By the time he hit roughly the nine-month mark, he was 100% normal when it came to weight, and now he’s actually slightly above the average, though still within the “normal” range for his breed.

Nearly every dog food advertises itself as nutritionally-balanced, the perfect, healthy choice for your dog.

Many do not hold up to scrutiny, as I found out when I searched the dog food I’d purchased for my dog at Dog Food Advisor. The dog food nutrition site gives an in-depth analysis of different dog foods based on the key ingredients and how good they are (or aren’t) for dogs.

It turns out that the dog food I’d purchased, Science Diet, based on recommendations and reading up on the label, only rated two stars out of five, which meant it was “not recommended.”

Two aisles over at the pet store, I found Blue Buffalo, a brand I’d certainly heard of but had never purchased. It rates five stars, and is “enthusiastically recommended.”

Though it costs a bit more, I’ll be giving it a try.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.