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 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dog Food – Natural Dry Dog Food for Adult Dogs – Chicken and Brown Rice – 30 lb. Bag‘ rel=”noopener noreferrer” data-wplink-url-error=”true”> 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 Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food, 25 Lbs.‘ rel=”noopener noreferrer” data-wplink-url-error=”true”> 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 atWellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Oatmeal, 30-Pound Bag‘ rel=”noopener noreferrer” data-wplink-url-error=”true”> 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 atRoyal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Adult Dry Dog Food, 14 Lb‘ rel=”noopener noreferrer” data-wplink-url-error=”true”> 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.


  1. This is the perfect article for any pet parents looking for detailed reviews on some of the many pet foods out there! My daughter read this with me and would like to see more reviews on pet foods. Just an idea… maybe you can do an article for the fresh food diet for pets? Again great article!

    1. Author

      Thank you for your comment! I will do that about the fresh food diet. Someone asked me about a vegetarian diet also. I will do a post on both!

  2. We provided a home for an older Romanian mixed breed rescue dog 6 months ago. She’s settled in quite well and is a bit shy but absolutely wonderful and friendly dog. We’ve been feeding her Pure Natural and Canagan whole foods a stable of her diet and they seem really high quality but it’s always good to check out for options. Our dog isn’t picky, just like most dog are not, so I think it’s best to switch the food brand and flavor every now and then to provide new taste experiences for the pooch. I’ll try your recommendations!

    1. Author

      Congratulations on your new furry family member. She’s very lucky to be in your family! Pure Natural is a great brand too! Good luck!

  3. Great article

    To be honest I would really lean towards the blue buffalo dog food since it has a great inspiration behind it of Bill and Jackie’s large breed Airedale called blue.
    This gives the brand more trust and authority for someone genuinely looking to buy

  4. Great article.

    However I am wondering do you feed your dogs vegan food and if not do you recommend that?
    I do for my dogs and it works on well, Just wanted to know from your side.

    1. Author

      Interesting that you ask that. I do not feed my dogs a vegan diet. Cinnamon does love vegetables though and I do feed her carrots, potatoes, rice, pumpkin, sugar snap peas and green beans. She also likes her meat! On the other hand, my oldest daughter has cats and she said I can’t even share treats between her cats and my cinnamon because cat food and treats are all protein and my dog would get sick from that. Do you cook all your dogs meals homemade? I’m going to research that for my next post! Thank you!

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