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Dog food rating

Last week I began switching my dog’s food from Purina One lamb and rice to Nature’s Variety Instinct duck and turkey.

Nature’s Variety Instinct is a grain-free dog food with no by-products. I chose this food because I like that it has a raw option. Eventually I plan to feed Ace raw food several times per week.

My two cats are also eating Nature’s Variety Instinct. It is my responsibility to provide all my animals with the best quality diet.

Below is a link to a dog food rating worksheet sent to me by a reader where you can score your pet’s food based on the food’s ingredients:

How does your dog’s food rate?

The worksheet is very straightforward and will give you an idea of how healthy your dog’s food is. You start with a score of 100 and subtract and add points based on the food’s ingredients. For example, for every by-product listed, you will subtract 10 points. For every nonspecified animal source, you will subtract another 10 points, etc.

If you usually throw the bag away, that’s OK because most dog food companies list their ingredients online.

golden retrieverOf course, the worksheet will only give you a general idea of how healthy your dog’s food is. Use it as a guidance.

If you are too lazy to complete the math, many popular foods and their scores are listed at the end of the worksheet.

No surprise here, but Purina One lamb and rice scored a big, bold F! The food contains a lot of corn and by-products, so go figure. The food failed the test by about the fourth question!

Nature’s Variety Instinct received more than a perfect score. I took off one point because it contained salt (sea salt), but the brand got extra credit for containing specific animal protein sources such as turkey, duck and salmon and for containing actual fruit such as cranberries and blueberries.

Of course, I did not need the worksheet to know which food to feed my dog, but it’s still a fun exercise to try. For some surprising information on what to look for in your dog’s food, check out my post on dog food ingredients.

I feel much better now that my dog is eating natural dog food, but don’t feel bad if your dog eats a lower-quality food. You can always mix it with a healthy dog food so your dog gets the good nutrients at a lower monthly cost.

Thank you Christie (and Buddy, pictured) for sending me the dog food rating worksheet.

What kind of food does your dog eat? How does it score on the dog food rating worksheet?

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 2nd of May 2011

He's a lucky dog!


Saturday 30th of January 2010

I also recently began researching dog food and quickly took my dog off of Pedigree. I can't believe that I fed him such a substandard kibble for so long! Now he eats The Honest Kitchen's raw, dehydrated dog food.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 25th of December 2009

No problem, Barry! I think we can all agree that you can't go wrong eating a balanced meal that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables and as few processed foods as possible.

As for a healthy raw diet, it should be balanced to include protein, fat, carbs, etc. It is not easy to do. I certainly have never been able to maintain it.

barry knister

Friday 25th of December 2009

Thanks to those who troubled to respond to my question/comment on raw vs. cooked food for dogs. I must say, though, that I remain unconvinced. When serious research confirms that health and longevity are both served by raw diets--for either humans or dogs--I'll be more willing to take this seriously. I'm inclined to think balance and moderation for both species makes the most sense. I like raw fruits and vegetables IN my diet, not AS my diet.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 8th of December 2009

Thanks for the info, Biggie! Very helpful as always.