Would you like to know which dog food brands are considered by many including myself to be the biggest offenders?

In this article, I share examples of what makes these brands so bad.

There are good and bad ways to feed a dog, and dog owners have to be careful due to all the myths about dog food out there.

So What Makes These Foods So Bad?

  1. The use of by-product meal vs product meal. What this means is the food might contain chicken by-product meal which is a low grade protein source containing no muscle meat. On the other hand, if it contains chicken meal, this is considered an excellent source of protein and not typically found in poor quality dog food brands.**Note Many dog food brands will list the first ingredient as a meat meal, only to follow it up with 4-6 grains and inferior ingredients. This diminishes the value of a quality protein when you follow it up with a myriad of inferior ingredients.Here’s an example of the first 6 ingredients using the popular Nutro Max: Chicken Meal, Wheat Flour, Ground Whole Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice Bran, Poultry Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Ground Rice, etc. – They offer a nice main protein source in the chicken meal and follow it up with flours and grain!Now here’s another example of what a good brand looks like using Acana Large Breed: Chicken Meal, Steamed Oats, Fresh free run chicken, Peas, Brown Rice, Deboned Salmon, etc. – How’s that for a nice blend!
  2. Using meat by product meal as the main source of protein is unacceptable. No specific animal source is indicated which means there is no real muscle meat included. Meat by-product meal is the clean parts of slaughtered animals including the spleen, lungs, kidney, brains, liver, blood, bone, stomach and intestines (contents removed). However, it does not included hair, hooves, horns or teeth. Again, there is no real meat included in meat by-product meal.
  3. No muscle meat in the first five ingredients. Meat should always be your dog’s main protein source and there should be at minimum two named animal protein sources and should be the first ingredient on the label. Two quality protein sources in the first 5-6 ingredients is what the better foods typically offer.Keep in mind that some of the best foods might only offer one meat source as the first ingredient, but include another quality protein such as quinoa in the first 4-6 ingredients which is acceptable.**Also, chicken meal is actually better than chicken, why? Because meal (I used chicken as the example, but it could be lamb, fish, etc.), no matter what the animal source, contains meat and skin and most of the moisture has already been removed.Take that same meat in it’s original form and it contains 75% more water than the meal form. What this means is that the meat in its original form will shrink due to the moisture content, so what started out as a pound, might end up being a quarter pound.So, don’t be fooled just because chicken or another meat source is the number one ingredient on these cheaper brands. The meat includes a high moisture content when it’s weighed and this is how companies get around it. Unlike the meal form which the moisture content has already been removed and what started out as a pound, is only slightly less than a pound in the finished product.
  4. Using corn, corn meal and corn by-products such as corn gluten meal as main protein sources or fillers.
  5. Using way too much grain, period. Corn, barley, wheat, etc.
  6. Flours such as soy flour and rice flours or ground sorghum used as thickeners and fillers.
  7. Adding sugar to entice your dog to eat it. Your dog knows it’s bad, but the sugar entices him.
  8. The use of known Cancer causing products such as BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin which are used as preservatives to stop rancidity of fats. These products are also used in many human products as well. Watch your labels folks.
  9. Adding synthetic food dyes (artificial food colorants) which are also linked to cancer in both humans and animals.

Examples of Low Grade Dog Food Brands

If I added all the dog foods here that I thought were of low quality, this list would be massive. I’m not going to do that. But, I am going to give you some examples of popular dog food brands on the market today that do not contain enough quality  ingredients to make up a healthy diet for your dog. Or, they include the unhealthy ingredients that I mentioned above.

These dog foods in my opinion are perfect examples of poor quality dog food brands and formulas. They contain a lot of fillers, grains and lack quality protein sources (or again, enough of them) as well as a nice variety of wholesome ingredients.

Many also include the cancer causing agents mentioned above. Keep in mind that these are only a couple of formulas these companies offer and in most cases their other formulas follow suit:

Here We Go:

Ok, I’m hoping that you can read between the lines here. I’m not going to say the actual name of the company in my list below, and the actual brand name is misspelled, but I think you’ll be able to figure it out: :0

  • Pur Dog Chow
  • Pur Health Morsels
  • Pur Little Bits Dog Food
  • Pur Benoful Original
  • Old Roys Kibbles Chews & Chunks
  • Old Roys Nutrition Complete
  • Petigree ALL Formulas

These are only a few of the many dog foods on the market today that I feel are the most misleading, and take complete advantage of dog owners who think that because the foods are made by well known companies, they must be good.

If you’re not sure if you’re feeding a poor quality dog food; just ask.  I’d be more than happy to help.

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Showing 11 comments
  • Christian

    Whats the opinion on Purina Pro Plan?

    • janie knetzer

      Hi Christian:

      Not good. I’m sorry. Do you want some help with feeding a healthy diet? I understand everyone has a budget, but we can try and work within your budget with regards to food. How old is your dog? Any health issues?

      YourOldDog Administrator

  • wendy

    Walmarts here sell a brand called “Paramount” as well as Newmans. The Paramount label (the Healthy Maintenance Formula) says it contains: Turkey, turkey mean, dried peas, dried chickpeas, potato flour, chicken fat, dried beet pulp etc., etc. – as the first ingredients. Unfortunately it contains that Vit. K source called ‘menadione —‘ and I heard that that ingredient is bad and Vit. K not needed by dogs (?) Does anyone know a reason to not trust this brand as an occasional meal? I also feed Acana, Origen, Chicken Soup For The Dog Lover’s Soul (yes, that’s a brand name) and top it with kefir, enzymes, spirulina powder and a spoon of can.

    • janie knetzer

      I recommend avoiding any dog foods that contain synthetic aka man made vitamin k (menadione) and look for foods that include good sources of leafy greens that help the liver. This is an extremely controversial ingredient with NO proven need, yet it has plenty of reasons not to include it as part of your dog’s diet.

      Why do you feel the need to include this food when you’re already feeding good brands like Acana, Orijen and Chicken Soup ( is ok)? If it’s because of rotation; I’d say that three foods are plenty and give your dog a nice variety.


  • Audrey Stowers

    All the foods listed are sold at Walmart. The only good food I have found in Walmart so far is Newman’s Own…Organic Brown Rice and Chicken and Organic Turkey and Brown Rice w/Vegetables. I only buy that when I run out of the good stuff and have to resort to something else on the road. Such a large store like Walmart should have top notch food to offer since the store is also easily accessible to trucks.

    • admin

      Hi Audrey:
      I agree. I’m actually surprised that they even sell Newman’s Own! The reason they don’t have top notch food is because they want vendors to sell them their goods at such a cheap price – smaller companies that make some of the best dog foods just can’t afford to do it. Most of them wouldn’t sell to Walmart anyway just because they consider their products premium.

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