Review of the Top four high rated dog foods

I want my dog to eat healthy food. It’s really important to me that it’s high quality food for the price I pay. I’m going to review 4 brand name dog foods. Three of them are expensive, one of them is average. I wanted to see if I really need to pay a lot of money to buy good quality food.

Blue Buffalo dog food. Is it worth the ticket price?

I chose to review Blue Buffalo dog food first because I buy this brand for Cinnamon, my dog. I started buying it because I heard it was a good quality dog food and when Cinnamon ate it, she didn’t get sick. I know that’s not great research based information to buy dog food on but I was satisfied with my choice at the time.

The story behind Blue buffalo is pretty cool. They came up with the idea when Blue was struggling with cancer.  Blue is Bill and Jackie’s large breed Airedale. Blue’s struggle  prompted them to take a serious interest in a wide range of pet health issues, and inspired the Bishop family to make a super-premium pet food using only the finest natural ingredients starting with real chicken, lamb or fish. Working with a leading holistic veterinarian and animal nutritionist, the Bishops developed BLUE Life Protection Formula® for dogs and cats. This is a picture of Blue.

Brand line includes: Blue Buffalo BLUE Life Protection, Blue Buffalo Freedom, Blue Buffalo Wilderness, Blue Buffalo Basics, Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipes, Blue Buffalo Divine Delights, Blue Buffalo BLUE Chunky Stew, and a variety of Blue Buffalo treats for cats and dogs

Let’s look at the ingredients in Blue.

high-quality proteins such as deboned chicken, lamb, or fish.

-Fat sources are from wholesome vegetable oils like sunflower, canola and flax seed, and quality fish oils from herring and salmon. Chicken fat is also a prominent ingredient.

Carbohydrates sources include whole grains, like brown rice, barley and oats, these are excellent low-fat sources of highly-digestible complex carbohydrates. Whole grains are also a rich source of dietary fiber — both soluble and insoluble — which is crucial for healthy intestinal function. They only use quality whole grains and never any corn, wheat, or soy.

Fruits and Vegetables sources include peas, potatoes and carrots because they are great sources of Vitamin A, while blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Cinnamon loves to eat raw carrots when I am munching on some myself.

-Vitamins and Minerals they use are manganese, iron, potassium, copper, and calcium and phosphorus. These vitamins are combined with “chelated” minerals that is “attached” to easily absorbable amino acids, which means they will get into your pet’s bloodstream more readily.

Now this was interesting. Blue has something called LifeSource Bits®

You know when you go to a health food store and want to buy omega 3 or fish oil and it’s cold pressed?   The whole food industry says that cold pressing keeps the vitamins intact and retains their nutritional value. Blue took on that same mind set when they added vitamins to their LifeSource Bits.  When the company was developing BLUE, they learned that other pet foods cook their added vitamins and minerals right along with the rest of their ingredients. This process can degrade the potency of important antioxidants like Vitamin C up to 75%. So, Blue decided to cold press their vitamins into their LifeSource Bits.  Now our dog’s vitamins are preserved of their potency so that they can enjoy the full benefit of all vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These include ingredients help support your dog’s or cat’s immune system, support their specific life stage requirements and help maintain a healthy oxidative balance.

What’s Not In BLUE

-Chicken or Poultry By-Product Meals. The definition of Poultry By-Product Meals, as stated in the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) Publication 2009 reads, “Poultry [Chicken] By-Product Meal consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices. If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind [i.e. “Chicken By-Product Meal”] the name must correspond thereto.” This sounds like the human version of a poor quality hot dog for people.

-Corn wheat or Soy Proteins (Glutens)

-Artificial Colors, Flavors, or Preservatives

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? I’m really fascinated by the Life Bits. One important thing we need to look at is how many times was a product recalled? My stomach lurches when I hear this on any product, people or animal food. Blue has recalled various products 7 times since 2007. It has never been recalled for lead. Some recalls were for “potential” dangers, another was for poor packaging. You can buy Blue at or

My second review is on Merrick dog food.

Merrick was born over 30 years ago in Garth Merrick’s family kitchen in Hereford, Texas. That’s when Garth began home-cooking food for his beloved dog, Gracie, to make sure she was eating the most wholesome and nutritious food possible.

Brand line includes: Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Real Chicken Recipe, Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Real Salmon Recipe, Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Beef Pâté, Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Beef Wellington, Merrick Chunky Colossal Chicken Dinner Grain Free Recipe

Let’s look at the ingredients in Merrick.

  • Real Meats: Their recipes start with real, protein-packed high-quality USDA certified meats and fresh caught fish to support the growth of lean muscle, improved skin and coat health, and a healthy immune system
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: They use whole apples, potatoes, baby carrots, blueberries and other real fruits and vegetables filled with the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • The Ideal Combination of Protein and Healthy Fats to help maintain optimal weight and increased energy
  • Industry-Leading Levels of Omega-6 and Omega 3 Fatty Acids for healthy skin and shiny coat
  • Top Levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin to support healthy bones and joints
  • Real Meat Proteins, Apples, Blueberries and other whole foods to support a healthy digestive tract

That’s all the details I could find on their site. It doesn’t get as detailed as Blue does. It doesn’t seem to include as many vitamins and we don’t know if the fruits and vegetables are organic. It doesn’t mention their carbohydrates in their ingredient list. So, I’m not sure about corn fillers, etc. Although on certain products it does say grain free.

They have had 4 recalls since August 2010. One was due to high levels of beef thyroid and the other 3 were salmonella

Next up…Wellness dog food. You can buy Merrick dog food at or It is $59 at both places for a single purchase.

Next up…Wellness dog food

In the 1990s, the Wellness team began working with animal nutrition experts, veterinarians and scientists to develop a food that would revolutionize the pet food industry. The result was Wellness. They’re goal was to represent a new generation in natural pet food.

Brand line includes: Wellness Puppy Deboned Chicken, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe for Dogs, Wellness Lamb & Barley Recipe for Dogs, Wellness Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe for Dogs, Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Recipe, Wellness CORE Grain-Free Wild Game Formula, Wellness CORE Grain-Free Kitten Formula

The following is a list of their ingredients:

-deboned chicken, whitefish, duck, lamb, eggs, salmon

-tomatoes, potato

-chick peas, oatmeal

-flaxseed, canola oil, or chicory root

They have their grain-free options. Their site didn’t mention any vitamins or minerals that were added. It seems to me they focus on being holistic and all natural.

They have had 5 recalls since Feb. 2011. They were due to either salmonella, moisture contamination or elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone.

You can buy Wellness dog food at or It is $54 at both shops.

Royal Canin specializes their food according to breeds

When I had a lab and a retriever, we used Royal Canin. My dogs were from a breeder and Royal Canin was the food of choice. They target their food to the specific need of each breed.

Jean Cathary was born in May 1927 in the small French town of Puy-en-Velay. He started his veterinary career working with horses and bulls. Over the years he came to believe that food could impact the health of animals. In 1968, he created the ‘yellow soup’ for dogs. The ROYAL CANIN® brand is registered.

ingredients list:-

– chicken by-product meal,

– oat groats, brewers rice, wheat, corn gluten meal, Brown rice, wheat gluten

-chicken fat, fish oil, vegetable oil,

-natural flavors, powdered cellulose,

-dried plain beet pulp, dried tomato pomace,

-Lots of preservatives

I’m certainly glad I switched to Blue with my current dog, Cinnamon. Seems to have a lot of fillers. They did state in the beginning that this is a science based dog food. They never claimed to be all natural. I could not currently find any recalls.

You can buy Royal Canine at or It is $36 on amazon and $35 on Chewy. But these prices vary to what breed dog you need to buy for.

These four dog foods were top rated on Chewy.

I am sold on Blue because they are so transparent with their ingredients list and how they make their food. Plus, I think Life Bits adds that extra nutrition to their food. I’m willing to pay more for my dog food because I do believe that it makes a difference in the quality of life for Cinnamon.

Timid or anxiety behavior, are they the same?

        How to help your dog

How do you know if your pup is just timid or has anxiety?

Timid behavior

Where did you get your pup from? Was it a rescue? Was it a kennel? Was it a puppy mill? Or was it a breeder? No matter where you got him from, If he wasn’t socialized well before he was 4 months old, there’s a good chance he’ll be shy and timid. He may tuck his tail between his legs, avoid eye contact, hide in a corner or behind the sofa or even pee on the carpet. These are all signs that your dog is scared, nervous and submissive. If he was ignored or abused as a pup, it could lead him to have a fear of humans. He may not be shy in all situations — he may enjoy attention from you, but hide from other family members or the playful dog next door.

Anxiety behavior

Dogs that experience anxiety may display their stress in very different ways. Some symptoms like panting or shaking, are subtle and can be easily missed or dismissed because they are normal in other circumstances. Other more noticeable symptoms include aggression and excessive barking. Pet owners may mistake such symptoms as their pet simply acting out due to boredom or other behavioral causes. But if these symptoms occur in common situations, like during a thunderstorm or when pet owners leave the house, it can indicate that the dog is responding to anxiousness and stressful feelings. If your dog acts like this around certain people this can also be anxiety. When my son had a studio in our basement, his band members would come in through the garage door and walk through my dog’s “space”. She would bark and the ridge on her back would go up. She was very anxious about all of these teenage boys invading her space.

Subtle symptoms of anxiety

Some of the less obvious symptoms of anxiety manifest as a slight change in behavior. These symptoms can go unnoticed by pet owners as they are not disruptive. We may just think that these symptoms are our pets personalities. It may be something deeper. These symptoms include:

  • Hiding or solitude:

Some dogs want to be alone when they are experiencing anxiety. They may hide out of fear, or move away from people and other pets. Sydney will go into her cage. While her cage is her safe zone, there are days when she won’t come out. We do not lock her cage, so she can go in and out of it freely, but I’m still concerned she spends so much time in her cage.

  • Seeking comfort:

Other anxious dogs will have the opposite reaction, and seek more attention or affection. They may jump in their pet parent’s lap or require more attention. When Sydney is anxious because my Cinnamon is visiting (Sydney is my daughter’s dog), Sydney will bolt up into my lap. It’s like a power move. She almost knocked me over one time! She lies on my chest in fear and will barely move her head back and forth to look around.

  • Shaking and panting:

Dogs that shake or pant, or act generally nervous may be experiencing anxiety. While panting after exercise or in the heat is normal, panting during a loud fireworks display is likely not.

  • Excessive licking or chewing:

Anxious dogs may compulsively lick or chew at their fur. Booper, another dog of my daughter’s, will lick a spot on his body clean of fur. It is by his hip. She put s a neck collar around him and that helps. It is called an E-komg (for Dogs and Cats). It really works! It’s like having a pillow collar around our necks when we travel.


Overt Symptoms of Anxiety

The more noticeable symptoms of anxiety are hard to miss. Depending on the cause of the anxiety, these behaviors may only appear when dogs are triggered by their phobia.
Excessive barking and howling:
One of the most obvious signs of anxiety is excessive noise. If a pet starts to bark because of a loud noise or interruption and cannot be easily calmed, even after the disruption stops, they may be feeling anxiety.

  • Aggression:

Anxious dogs may become suddenly aggressive, even to their pet parent. Anxious dogs may suddenly snap, growl, or show signs of aggression. They seem jumpy and agitated.

  • Try to escape:

Dogs that feel trapped or enclosed may start digging or running. Enclosing dogs in crates may worsen their anxiety in these situations.

  • Excessive energy:

Anxious dogs sometimes display a surge of energy and appear hyperactive. We had my nephew’s dog stay with us for 3 months. His name was Strider. Strider never sat down. He would pace and jump onto the couch and then off of the couch. My daughter has another rescue dog named Sonny. Sonny can walk down the stairs but not up the stairs. So, if he is down the stairs and we are up stairs, he will pace and pace and pace. Sydney will actually walk in circles.

  • Excretion:

House-trained dogs may suddenly defecate indoors when they are under duress. You see this happening with pups when they get over excited too. When we would leave my lab at home, he would jump knock the gate over, run into my son’s room and pee on his dresser. Same spot, every time. He was 110 pounds. That was a lot of urine.


A common symptom of anxiety is destruction of furniture or other objects that they normally do not chew or shred. It’s common to come home and the dog has gotten into the garbage. This is not what we are talking about. We are talking about ripping pillow apart, gnawing on furniture or even chewing on the gate.

  • Panic attacks:

Dogs that experience any number of these symptoms may start to have panic attacks. Panic attacks can last from minutes to hours, and can involve any number of the above symptoms.

Symptoms of anxiety, like destruction of objects and high energy, can result in self-injury. The mental and physical stress that dogs endure while suffering from anxiety is also taxing, and should not go untreated.

Managing an anxious dog


Even for people the first answer to dealing with stress, anxiety or depression is to add exercise to your daily routine. In recent years lack of movement for people have contributed to not only weight gain but to the way we handle our stress.

The same is true for our dogs. Movement is the key ingredient to a happy healthy dog and the lack of it contributes to far greater behavior challenges than most dog owners are aware.

Exercise for a fearful or anxious dog is on the very top of the list when it comes to changing this behavior to confidence and the ability to deal with daily routines in a much more relaxed manner. Finding ways to get an anxious dog exercise can be challenging when the fear stems from other people, dogs or unexpected external noises.

Treadmill Dog Training

The treadmill for a fearful or anxious dog is a solution well worth looking into for a variety of reasons. First creating a safe environment for a dog suffering from fear starts everyone off on the right paw. Secondly it is a way to incorporate exercise as a stress reliever while creating a mind that can open to learning by taking the overanxious edge off through movement . Once a fearful dog gets the chance to burn off the nervous energy that stores itself only to come out as bad behavior the road to leaving the fear behind can begin.

Other benefits to training a fearful dog on a treadmill are really about gaining your own confidence as well. Many people suffer from feeling the judgment of others while trying to get a dog with issues “over it” out on a public trail or park. Dogs who are fearful, shy or overly anxious can look to others as though they have been “abused” or you aren’t being nice to the dog. In most cases this is far from the truth and stops the process of getting a dog out and moving as much as possible.

Exercise and movement take the edge off of anxiety for both people and dogs. Treadmill training for dogs not only gives a dog who needs to move through fear the chance to get enough exercise but it has in fact, gotten most dogs to a place where confidence and balance returns and a dog who wasn’t socially able to function well becomes happy and integrated into regular life activities.