Best dog food Canada: Top 6 Most Searched Brands

Best dog food Canada: does it exist? 

At some point, all pet parents will ask the age old question: what is the best dog food? The truth is, there is no such thing as “the best dog food,” but there is such a thing as the best food for your dog. There are a variety of factors that you should consider when switching up your pup’s diet, and don’t hesitate to ask your veterinary professional team for help.

In this blog, we will explore the complex and frankly- confusing world of dog food. Since there is a lot to dig into (pun intended), we will be focusing on kibble only, but make sure to sign up for our Waggle (e)Mails for new blog drops.

Before revealing the Top 6 most searched dog brands, let’s discuss how to pick the best food for your dog, reading labels correctly, and understanding how your dog’s food is formulated.

black lab and pet parents

How to pick the best food for your dog: What should you look for?

A Company with Ethics

Everyday, we make a conscious effort to align ourselves with other people, or groups like our dog-obsessed Waggle Mail community who share similar personal beliefs and values – why should dog food companies be treated any differently? Before you make your purchase, take a sneak peek at the company’s website. More often than not, their mission statement will be immediately visible on the home page, or the about us page. For example, the lack of humane livestock raising practices might instantly ensure that you’d never consider purchasing from the company.

An excellent example of a value-forward company is the 1st of our top 6 most searched dog brands:

Open Farm Dog Food

What we love about Open Farm dog food’s website is that their mission is clear: Our Promise to Do Some Good. We also respect that they back up that promise with action. Open Farm provides yearly impact reports, discusses humane livestock raising (while actively participating in it), and introduces you to some other impactful groups such as OceanWise and Global Animal Partnership. This resonates with us, as at Waggle Mail, as our own veterinary founder’s mission was to empower pet parents with access to good products and trusted information in order to take the best care of your very best friend. 

Another key point to consider when you are doing your research is sustainability. We all know that human activities are impacting the environment, and the pet industry is struggling to keep up in terms of sustainability. We hope that the demand for environmentally friendly practices will push the pet industry to catch up.

german shorthaired pointer running in woods

Transparent Ingredients and Nutritional Profile

Ingredients matter – your dog will be eating them every day. This includes everything from the quality of the corn to the protein source. When evaluating ingredients, one crucial question to ask yourself is, “Is this formula suitable for my dog?” 

Some ingredients to avoid are obvious- you wouldn’t choose a food that contains allergens for your dog, right? However, it’s important to understand how nutrition affects medical conditions, or even sensitive tummies, too. Some dogs require a nutritional profile that is formulated similar to a prescription drug- it is created to target specific conditions and improve symptoms.

A perfect example of this is the 2nd of our top 6 most searched dog food brands:

Royal Canin Dog Food

For pups with suspected allergies, your family veterinarian may recommend a strict food trial to find the perfect food. If your dog has severe food allergies to meat proteins, you might be advised to feed a diet like Royal Canin’s Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein. These hydrolyzed formulas differ from novel protein hypoallergenic diets by breaking down the protein composition until the body no longer recognizes the source, preventing allergic reactions. The idea is, if your dog’s body can’t recognize the protein, it doesn’t react to it. 

Just as avoiding allergens is crucial, so is selecting appropriate nutritional profiles for certain medical conditions. For instance, if your food-loving canine companion got into something they shouldn’t, like the garbage or a gravy-covered poutine sitting on the coffee table, the high fat intake can trigger pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) resulting in pain, vomiting and diarrhea. There is nothing fun about pancreatitis for you, your dog, or your wallet. Your vet may prescribe a low fat, gastrointestinal diet, either short-term or long-term to keep symptoms at bay. For a low-fat treat option post-recovery, check out Royal Canin’s Gastrointestinal dog treats

Oh, and if you have any concerns about your dog’s health or diet, give your veterinarian a call as they have specialized training in pet nutrition. 

vet with puppy talking to owner

Reading Dog Food Labels: It shouldn’t be Greek to you

Reading dog food labels can be confusing, often leaving you feeling more lost than when you started. In this section, we will break down some of the most common components and terminology found in kibble dog food labels.

What is a ‘meal’? 

“Meal” refers to a rendered meat source that is cooked before arriving at the manufacturer to eliminate any harmful materials. During this process, the meat is also ground into a fine, uniform texture. Most of the water and fat content is removed, resulting in a concentrated protein and mineral ingredient. Since the water content has already been removed, the meal maintains its nutritional value and weight when processed into kibble.

What is a ‘byproduct’?

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a byproduct is a “secondary product produced in addition to the principal product.” So what does this actually mean when keeping your dog in mind? During slaughter and meat processing, carcasses or certain cuts of meat may be rejected for human consumption. This can happen for several reasons: the meat may not meet aesthetic standards (like a bruised apple), it may be an internal organ, or it could be a cut not typically used in human foods. After all, us hoo-mans tend to be a little pickier than our canine counterparts. Byproducts are not inherently bad. AAFCO’s guidelines consider the nutrient content and safety of the processes used to make animal food. They have determined that byproducts can safely provide nutrition for your dog.

2 dogs eating from a bowl

What about everything else?

You might find a long list of unfamiliar ingredients on dog food labels. Here’s a breakdown of most of them, along with their purposes:

Vegetable/Animal Fat or Oil: Used to add nutrients or flavour. Some innovative fats, like FirstMate’s chicken fat, are safe for dogs with chicken allergies because they are free of chicken protein. Bonus Feature: FirstMate Dog Food is a Canadian company like Waggle Mail!

Plant Ingredients: Provide calories, nutrients and help bind kibble together. Plant ingredients such as corn, barley, peas, and potatoes are used to supply calories and nutrients. Other plant ingredients including beet pulp, dried chicory root, and cellulose are a great source of fibre. 

Inorganic Compounds, Vitamins, and Amino Acids: Essential for bodily functions and your dog’s overall health and immunity. Kibbles often include calcium, potassium, sodium, zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, riboflavin supplements, and L-lysine, L-tryptophan, and taurine. All listed provide unique benefits, from boosting immunity to supporting joint health for all those zoomies around the house.

Guar gum and Carrageenan: These act as thickeners and stabilisers within the kibble. There may also be a few spices and extracts (for example, rosemary extract) for additional seasoning.

parent reading with kids

Expert Tip: How do you know how much of something is in the kibble?

Understanding the order of ingredients on a pet food label is crucial. Ingredients are listed by weight in descending order before processing. This means the heaviest ingredients, like raw meats and plant ingredients, are at the top of the list. However, their nutritional impact may be lower than ingredients further down the list, depending on the type of processing used. Why is this important for your dog?

Well, let’s use the 3rd of our top 6 most searched dog food brands as an example:

Inukshuk Dog Food

Originally formulated to support the nutritional needs of Canada’s hardest working sled dogs, the Inukshuk 32/32 diet is a great case study for understanding the functional importance of ingredient order and quantity. The top ingredients are chicken meal, chicken fat and herring meal- all very high in protein and fat (32% Crude Protein and 32% Crude Fat, hence the name). This diet would therefore not be a great choice for low-activity couch potato companions who prefer a good snooze, but could be a good fit for high-octane hikers seeking action-packed adventure with their favourite hoo-mans. 

collie in lifejacket

How is dog food formulated?

As a busy pet parent, you likely don’t have the time to become a certified dog nutritionist, despite your love for your pup. Fortunately, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) does the heavy lifting for the dog food industry. They help ensure that the foods available to the public are safe and meet nutritional standards for your precious pooch.

So look for their logo below or for dog foods that have participated in AAFCO Feeding Trials like the 4th and 5th of our top 6 most searched dog food brands:

Orijen Dog Food and Acana Dog Food

Both Acana Dog Food and Orijen Dog Food are made by Champion, and their AAFCO Feeding Trial documents are similar. If you have a bag of dog food on hand, look for an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement near the ingredients and guaranteed analysis typically on the back or side of the bag. This triage of information is arguably the most important part of the label as it helps you match your dog’s nutritional needs with a product. For even more information about understanding dog food labels, visit AAFCO’s Understanding Pet Food page.

AAFCO logo

Who else can you trust when picking out your dog’s food?

Other than your pet-loving team of veterinary professionals, we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t mention two other amazing organizations dedicated to setting industry standards with your dog’s wellbeing in mind.

In fact, the 6th and last of our top 6 most searched dog food brands has some alignment:

TLC Dog Food

TLC dog food employs nutritionists and aligns with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s checklist of questions for when choosing dog food.

1. World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA): Offers valuable resources and recommendations for dog nutrition and health, like these handy guidelines when selecting a dog food. 

2. The Pet Nutrition Alliance is a global collaboration between nine veterinary organisations. Their goal is to offer nutrition resources and education to veterinary healthcare professionals and consumers, like you. Every year they release a pet food manufacturer evaluation, or a master list of all manufacturers with food available in the United States and Canada. Each manufacturer is then contacted by the Pet Nutrition Alliance and asked three questions pulled from WSAVA’s recommended questions when choosing a pet food. The goal of the manufacturer evaluation is to streamline the process of picking a pet food, and it allows you to compare multiple brands at the same time. 

Waggle Mail: Your Trusted Source for Dog Care

At Waggle Mail, we are incredibly passionate about connecting people with trusted information and quality products tailored to each unique dog through our vet-curated dog subscription boxes.

We realize this blog contained a lot of information and links, but we hope you found this vet-written, consolidated resource helpful. If so, make sure to sign up for our Waggle (e)Mail.  As a part of our commitment to canine health and wellness, we send our newsletter subscribers industry updates plus tools, tips, treats, and more.

More from our blog