How To Choose a Dry Dog Food

If you’re looking for the best dry dog food, it can help to know what to look for. From how it’s made to what ingredients are included, read on to learn more.

Whether your dog has been part of your family for years or you’re just now looking to adopt or rescue a new pup, it’s important to pick the right dog food for them. Their food is where they’ll get the energy, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need to grow and flourish. However, there can be a lot of formulas to navigate when it comes to dry dog food. 

Choosing the best dry dog food for your pup requires looking at the dog food label and comparing quality, ingredients, how it’s processed, and even taste. We’re here to answer all the questions you have about dry dog food and how to make the best choice for your dog.

How Is Dry Dog Food Processed? 

One of the first questions to ask when finding the best dog food is how it’s processed. Some dry dog food recipes are heavily processed using high heat dehydrating techniques, freeze drying techniques, or even chemicals. 

Types of Processing Methods 

Many big name dog food brands use extreme temperatures, pressures, and processes called extrusion to process dog food and make it edible for dogs. Here’s how the process is performed:

The ingredients are processed once harvested and before being added to dog food. Many of these include meat-meals, which is basically the lowest quality criteria the meat has to meet (no pun intended), included in dog food. This destroys much of the nutrient content of individual ingredients before they’re even manufactured into dog food.

These ingredients are heated at extreme temperatures to turn them into a paste. This helps dog food companies mold them into the right shape. To bake this paste, extreme temperatures are once again used to blast dog food and bake it under intense pressures.  

These processes are meant to kill off harmful bacteria and pathogens in dog food and make dry dog food more stable on the shelf. However, due to the use of extreme temperatures and methods, this can also destroy nutrients in what used to be high-quality ingredients.  

Why Air-Dried is Better 

The use of extreme temperatures and pressure in the making of dog food destroys most of the nutritional value in the food. Your dog requires a nutrient-rich diet full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, proteins, and fiber to get the healthy skin, thriving joint health, and regular metabolism we all want to see in our pups. 

What kind of dry dog food retains these nutrients? Look no further than air-dried foods! 

Air-dried dog food is an excellent alternative to the process of extrusion. Air-drying is done in much smaller batches and gently done so dry food retains more nutrients, moisture, and quality! Air-drying techniques can even be done in your own kitchen while still destroying bacteria and pathogens and staying shelf-stable. 

Human-Grade or All-Natural? 

When choosing dry dog food, it’s also important to look at what kind of ingredients are included and what standards are used to measure quality. Just like there are standards placed on human foods, there are standards placed on dog food, too. However, these standards aren’t exactly the same. 

Here’s everything you need to know.


When you see the word “natural” on a dog food label, you likely associate many positive characteristics with it, and for good reason. 

The word “natural” draws images of the green earth with roaming buffalo and salmon jumping in the streams, whole vegetables like sweet potato and barley growing in the fiels, and certainly no unnatural ingredients or artificial colors or flavors. 

Unfortunately, when concerning your puppy food, the standards around what’s “natural” and what isn’t is a blurred line.

Many foods labeled “natural” contain many less-than-natural ingredients, and can undergo processes like extrusion, heat processing, synthetic processing, and contain traces of chemical compounds and synthetics. 

To choose the best dry dog food, look for “human-grade” and “all-natural” labeled together


Human-grade dog food is held to a higher standard than natural dog food is. The term “human-grade” applies to any food that’s held to a standard high enough that humans could eat it safely. 

Instead of simply abiding by the standards set in place for “natural” foods, look for dry dog food that follows the standard set in place by the USDA for human foods. 

To learn more, check out this resource on our blog about what human-grade dog food is and why it’s better for your pup! 

High Quality Ingredients 

High quality ingredients on the dry dog food label are essential to finding the best dog food for your pup. Here are some ingredients to look for. 

Real Meat 

Your dog needs protein and amino acids for things like energy, muscle growth and strength, and maintaining a strong coat. So, the kind of protein in dry dog food matters. Some dog food companies will include fake meats in their dog food to save money and cut corners. 

These are known as “meat meals” and can be listed as “chicken meal,” “turkey meal,” or even “beef meal.” It’s important to avoid dog foods with this listed on the label as “meat meals” can contain by-products and leftovers like eyeballs, horns, feathers, talons, teeth, and more that your dog just doesn’t need. 

Instead, look for specific meat names like “USDA grade beef,” “beef heart,” “beef liver,” or even “beef bone”. This indicates that the meat is high quality, real, and only contains the ingredient listed with no added by-products or leftovers.

Whole Fruits and Vegetables 

While protein is a vital part of your dog’s diet, fruits and vegetables are, too. Without these ingredients in dry dog food, your dog would be missing the vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, fibers, and nutrients they need to thrive.

Look for fruits and veggies like strawberries, blueberries, pumpkin, zucchini, kale, kelp, spinach, beets, oranges, apples, and more. 

Whole Grains and Zero Fillers 

Lastly, your dog needs a variety of whole grains to fuel their body and provide necessary nutrients. It’s important to stay away from filler ingredients like corn, soy, and wheat or gluten grains that may be included in your dog food. These are meant to make your dog feel full without giving them real nutritional value.

Instead, look for whole grains like quinoa and oats— we hate to burst your bubble, but the grain-free hype can actually be harmful to your pup. 

Choose Sundays 

There are many types of dry dog food to choose from when considering what to buy for your dog. Luckily, with Sundays, the choice is easy. 

With the human-grade, high quality ingredients your pup deserves and none of the unnecessary ingredients, you can feed your dog worry-free! 

Try Healthy, Easy Sundays