With so many brands to compare, it can be confusing to know what to look out for in ingredients lists, particularly if your dog has a sensitive tummy, an allergy or falls into the puppy or senior category.
To save dog owners the hard work, the in-house veterinary surgeon at Pooch & Mutt, Dr Linda Simon, has weighed in on some of the UK's most popular dog food brands to see what nutritional value they are really offering your furry friends.
Read below to see what Dr Simon thinks about these popular dog food brands.
Dry food: Pedigree Vital
As one of the original and most well-known commercial dog food brands in the UK, you'd think Dr Simon would give them a gleaming review. However, this is not the case.
"Dogs require a high-quality protein for muscle repair, as well as a healthy coat and skin, so ideally, a good quality dog food would have whole meat or fish as the first listed ingredient. This is not the case for Pedigree. Instead, Pedigree lists cereal as its first ingredient and only contains 7.2% meat as a whole."
"The recommended carbohydrate percentage in dog food is 20-45%. This Pedigree food contains 82% carbohydrates, which could lead to significant weight gain in dogs, not to mention other issues such as difficulty building muscle, passing more stools, experiencing more digestive problems and sluggishness."
"Dogs require a high-meat diet to get the nutrients they need, and Pedigree's focus on cereal and carbs alongside a very low meat content makes it less favourable in comparison to some other brands."
Sensitive stomachs: Hills Science Plan Perfect Digestion Adult 1+
"Pooches with sensitive tums need food that's specifically designed to aid digestion and gently support their delicate gut ecosystem; otherwise, they can suffer with frequent diarrhoea, constipation, bloatedness and/or smelly farts. Not a great time for the pooch... or the parent!"
"The ideal food for dogs with sensitive tummies avoids too many carbs, as that can lead to obesity, diabetes and other chronic medical issues. Some nutritionists also advise against grains and wheat, as many dogs find them hard to digest. Hill's contains an excess of carbs in its ingredients list - including wheat, maize, rice and oats."
"In reality, the best core ingredient for a gut-friendly dog food would be a whole, lean protein which helps build the dog's digestive system with its anti-inflammatory effects, instead Hills main ingredients are wheat and maize."
"Lots of dogs can digest all kinds of food, but if your dog has a sensitive stomach, you'll want to be more careful and choose gentle, digestible ingredients, something that unfortunately, this Hills Science food does not particularly offer."
Sensitive skin: Royal Canin Skin Care
"One of the big perks of feeding your dog the right diet is that it can contribute to comfortable skin that's free of itchiness and a smooth, shiny coat. Many dogs with sensitive skin have allergies - to grain or otherwise - so dog foods that contain grain will be riskier for them."
"Royal Canin has maize, gluten and rice as its first three ingredients when protein rather than carbs are of more benefit to a dog's diet."
"Dogs with sensitive skin benefit from supplements for skin and hydration. Collagen as well as omega fatty acids are great examples of this. Royal Canin does actually include omega fatty acids which are great to reduce inflammation. However, a dog with sensitive skin often has allergies, so foods full of grains - such as Royal Canin's - could be seen as riskier, so I would be cautious in choosing this food to help with your dog's sensitive skin."
For puppies: Harrington's Puppy
"Getting the food right for young pups is super important - they need all the extra nutrients and whole foods they can get to develop strong bones and muscles as they rapidly grow. Alongside this, the right food needs to be gentle on their small, delicate tummies."
"The first ingredient in Harrington's is 'meat meal' - a powder made from animal parts that humans don't consume. As it's created by rendering, this can affect nutrient bioavailability, meaning many of the important nutrients can be lost."
"It's key to know exactly what you're feeding puppies, so that if they react badly to a meal, you can clearly read the label to investigate the ingredients. The nutritional information of Harrington's is vague - it's unclear which meats are included. This means the contents could change over time and cause a reaction or digestive issues in your pup."
For seniors: Bakers Senior
"Much like puppies, senior dogs need special care when being fed - their diets must be gentle on the stomach yet full of whole ingredients to keep them nourished, lean and spritely in this late stage of life."
"Bakers contains a very low proportion of meat at 5.1%, which is not clearly labelled, and listed as 'Meat and animal derivatives".
"As a senior dog is less active than a younger dog and their metabolism has slowed, they shouldn't eat too many carbs wherever possible. Senior dogs who are overweight have a worse quality of life and tend to pass away months, or even years sooner than slender, healthier dogs. Bakers contains an excessive amount of carbohydrates, at 52% wholegrains."
"Finally, to help a senior dog have the best quality of life, the addition of supplements and nutraceuticals can have a positive impact on their ageing body and functions. Bakers contains no supplements or nutraceuticals, so whilst this might taste great to your pooch, it really won't be offering them much support in terms of their ageing joints and body."