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Aside from Dog Food Advisor, there isn’t any other objective pet food review site that provides detailed and objective reviews by analyzing the ingredients of different pet food brands.

At OurPets HQ, we have been working on robust pet food reviews and as we thought about how best we can relay information to pet owners. We have developed a ranking system that we believe can provide some useful insights.

Dogs and cats need about 40 ingredients to survive and thrive. Their nutritional requirements depend on their life stage, activity level, and health condition.

To meet these needs, dog and cat food contain different types of ingredients like proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.

OurPets HQ Ingredients Score:

Based on the ingredients list and the number of ingredients, we use a proprietary tool to come up with a score.

Our ingredient score ranges from 0% to 100% with most commercial dog food scoring an average of 78%. We have evaluated 823 dog food brands and have relied on our ingredient score to form a basis for our reviews and recommendations.

Factors we take into consideration are:

  • The quality of the ingredients: We use a proprietary database to check the quality of each ingredient and come up with a score.
  • The number of ingredients: We believe that the fewer ingredients in a food, the better. This is because it is easier for your pet to digest and process fewer ingredients. For this reason, we subtract points for every ingredient over 10.
  • First 3 ingredients on the ingredients list: The first 3 ingredients on the list make up the majority of the food, so we believe they are the most important. For this reason, we give more weight to these ingredients.
  • The source of the ingredients: We believe that the sources of the ingredients here in the US are of higher quality. We also give more weight to ingredients that come from USDA-certified organic farms.
  • Processing of the ingredients: We believe that less processing is better. For this reason, we give more weight to ingredients that are minimally processed, such as whole grains.
  • The digestibility of the ingredients: We believe that ingredients that are more easily digested are better for your pet. For this reason, we give more weight to ingredients that have been pre-digested or hydrolyzed.
  • Ingredients Quality: We use a 7-point scale to rate the quality of ingredients, 1 being the worst and 7 being the best.
  • Inclusion of controversial ingredients: We deduct points if the food contains any ingredients that have been linked to health problems in pets.

Proteins: How we evaluate proteins in dog food:

A study found most commercial dog food brands have protein content ranging from 18.5 to 28.0%. AAFCO recommends minimum protein content to be 22.5% for puppies and 18% for adult dogs.

Puppies need more protein than adult dogs because they are growing and their bodies are going through a lot of changes. Protein is also essential for pregnant or nursing dogs, who need it for the development of their puppies.

The quality of the protein is also important. Animal proteins are generally better than plant proteins because they are more bioavailable, meaning your pet can digest and use them more easily.

That being said, there are some plant proteins that are of high quality, such as quinoa and chickpeas.

  1. Protein positioning in the ingredient list: We give more weight to proteins that are closer to the beginning of the ingredient list because they make up a larger proportion of the food. Dog food with quality protein appearing in the first 3 ingredients will be given a higher score.
  2. Protein type: We believe that animal-based proteins are of higher quality than plant-based proteins. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with animal-based proteins in the first 3 ingredients.
  3. Protein digestibility: We believe that pre-digested or hydrolyzed proteins are easier for your pet to digest and absorb. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with these proteins in the first 3 ingredients.
  4. Protein source: We are biased to poultry and fish as the main sources of protein and brands with these protein sources get more points. We also believe that proteins from USDA-certified organic farms are of higher quality. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with these proteins in the first 3 ingredients.

How we evaluate fats in dog food:

AAFCO recommends a minimum of 5.5% fat in adult dog food and a minimum of 8.5% fat in puppy food.

Fats are an important source of energy for dogs and help with the absorption of certain vitamins.

Fats also play a role in the health of your dog’s skin and coat.

We believe that animal-based fats are of higher quality than plant-based fats. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with animal-based fats in the first 5 ingredients.

We also believe that fats from USDA-certified organic farms are of higher quality. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with these fats in the first 5 ingredients.

How we evaluate carbohydrates in dog food:

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for dogs.

We believe that complex carbohydrates are of higher quality than simple carbohydrates. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with complex carbohydrates in the first 5 ingredients.

Complex carbs are usually found in whole grains, such as brown rice or oats.

We also believe that carbohydrates from USDA-certified organic farms are of higher quality. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with these carbohydrates in the first 5 ingredients.

Simple carbs are usually found in processed foods and can include things like sugar or corn syrup.

How we evaluate fiber in dog food:

Dogs need a certain amount of fiber in their diet to maintain gastrointestinal health.

The recommended amount of fiber for dogs is 2-4% for dry food and 0.5-2% for canned food.

We believe that soluble fibers are easier for dogs to digest than insoluble fibers. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with soluble fibers in the first 5 ingredients.

Soluble fiber can be found in things like oats, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

Insoluble fiber can be found in things like wheat bran or corn bran.

How we evaluate moisture in dog food:

Moisture is an important part of a dog’s diet and helps keep them hydrated.

The recommended amount of moisture for dogs is 10-12% for dry food and 78-80% for canned food.

We believe that foods with higher moisture content are better for dogs. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with higher moisture content.

How we evaluate calories in dog food:

Dogs need a certain amount of calories to maintain their energy levels.

The recommended amount of calories for dogs is 30-35 calories per pound of body weight.

We believe that foods with more calories are better for dogs. For this reason, we give more weight to foods with more calories.

Other ranking factors:

Company/brand ethics and reputation:

We also rank dog food companies and brands based on their ethics and reputation.

We believe that companies and brands that are committed to sustainable, humane, and organic farming practices are of higher quality. For this reason, we give more weight to these companies and brands.

We believe that companies and brands that have had multiple recalls are of lower quality. For this reason, we give less weight to these companies and brands.

US-sourced ingredients:

Dog food manufacturers are at liberty to disclose where they source the ingredients although they are not mandated to do so. We rank US-sourced ingredients in dog food higher than others since we believe that these ingredients are of higher quality.

Organic ingredients:

We also rank organic ingredients in dog food higher than others. This is because we believe that these ingredients are of higher quality.

Specialty ingredients:

Some manufacturers add specialty ingredients to their dog food to provide additional nutrients or health benefits. We rank these ingredients higher than others.

Ranking factors that are not as important:

Price:

We believe that price is not as important as other factors when ranking dog food. This is because we believe that the quality of the ingredients is more important than the price.

Size/shape of kibble:

We believe that the size and shape of kibble is not as important as other factors when ranking dog food. This is because we believe that the quality of the ingredients is more important than the size and shape of kibble.

Flavor:

We believe that flavor is not as important as other factors when ranking dog food. This is because we believe that the quality of the ingredients is more important than the flavor.

Manufacturing location:

We believe that the manufacturing location is not as important as other factors when ranking dog food. This is because we believe that the quality of the ingredients is more important than the manufacturing location.

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