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How to judge the quality of kibble?

Guest pax

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This post came through on a farm board I go to.


I am reposting it here as food for thought. Pun not really intended.


I have no idea if this is a valid way to judge food or not, maybe we could discuss that?


Also, I did not work out the already scored foods, they came with the post, so I ask you all to please take those numbers with a grain of salt.



I've been giving my dogs Nutro Max Naturals Lamb and Rice Small Bites. It did not hold up well to this particular test.


One thing that struck me is the high high score of the Dick van Patten food. That's the telly guy, right? So who makes that food for him, anyone know? Does it have another name?






How to grade your dog's food: Start with a grade of 100:

1) For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points

2) For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat,



fat) reference, subtract 10 points

3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points

4) For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract



5) If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first


ingredients (I.e. "ground brown rice", "brewers rice", "rice flour"



the same grain), subtract 5 points

6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2


in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points

7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points

8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3points

9) If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points

10) If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil,

subtract 2


11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is


to other protein sources), subtract 2 points

12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points

13) If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog is not



wheat), subtract 2 points

14) If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog is not



beef), subtract 1 point

15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point


Extra Credit:

1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points

2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist,




3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points

4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points

5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points

6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3


7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2


8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points

9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2


10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point

11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point

12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than


first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein

source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point

13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point

14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are

pesticide-free, add 1 point



94-100+ = A 86-93 = B 78-85 = C 70-77 = D 69 and below = F


Here are some foods that have already been scored.


Dog Food scores:

Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+

Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F

Canidae / Score 112 A+

Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+

Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F

Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice / Score 92 B

Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A

Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+

Dick Van Patten's Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+

Foundations / Score 106 A+

Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 93 B

Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D

Innova Dog / Score 114 A+

Innova Evo / Score 114 A+

Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+

Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B

Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B

Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F

ProPlan Natural Turkey & Barley / Score 103 A+

Purina Beneful / Score 17 F

Purina Dog / Score 62 F

Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F

Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+

Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+

Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A

Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F

Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F

Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+

Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 97 A

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Sounds like a lot more than one grain of salt is needed.


There's no discussion of ratio of protein to fat, which is a crucial consideration, not of the absolute values of protein and fat.


Salt is not bad for dogs, but it is a deduction.

Single meat is a problem why?

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I wondered about the single meat source myself.


I am not arguing the merits of the point system...I'm curious to get responses just like yours, because I am not completely satisfied with my girlies' condition and I'd like to find something else for them, so I'm exploring.


Please feel free to tear it apart, I might learn something.

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So it sounds like the food is penalized if it contains any meat other than chicken or fish (or some of the exotic meats). I wonder why that is? If the explanation were that beef and lamb are more likely to contain hormones or antibiotics, then I might buy the argument, except that I think chickens are some of the worst when it comes to factory farming and the things that may be added to their diets.


Also a single protein source is not a bad thing, IMO.


Like Bill said, it's very difficult to find dog foods with enough fat, and if they are higher fat, then they are often extremely high protein as well.


The ratings don't always reflect the "goodness" of the food either. I feed Bil-Jac on occasion, but one of my objections to it is the amount of corn it contains. Yet apparently, there are other "positive" things the mathematical formula picks up that end up rating it as great. I don't think it's a bad food, but I don't classify it at the top of the premium foods either.


Personally I think it's easier to consider ingredients, check protein:fat, and then see how your dog does on it. For example, I have a dog who is one a single-protein-source diet due to health issues. I put him on what many would consider a top-of-the-line food, though it had less fat than I'd like (but I add fat anyway). He has lost weight on that food, despite my increasing his intake by 50%. It's just not working *for him.*


What I look for is meat at the top of the list, either human-grade or meal. I try to avoid corn as it's just a filler. I look for natural ingredients. I look for a protein:fat of 3:2 (or as close as I can get, since you're not likely to find that ratio). I also look for a food that's not real high protein. I won't buy anything with artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin). Once I find a food that meets as many of my criteria as possible, then I take it home and try it on the dogs. How they do on it becomes the final decider on what I use.


That said, I do switch around occasionally too. Right now I am feeding Canidae all life stages. Farleigh, the endlessly circling dog, has put on weight for the first time in his life. Everyone else seems to be doing well. I just switched Boy from Timberwolf Organics Ocean Blue (the one he didn't seem to be doing well on) to Prairie Salmon Meal and Brown Rice. Trying to feed a single protein source restricts my options somewhat, but I bought a mid-sized bag to give me a chance to see if anything changes in his health with the change in food.


In other words, I really think you have to decide what *you* think is important in a food and then try to find brands (I'd stick with premium brands) that match your needs and that your dogs do well on. A formula is nice, but ultimately how your dog does will give you the answer.



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Writing too fast. I meant to say "nor of the absolute values or protein and fat." As Julie said, finding a 3:2 ratio with a low (>20 percent) protein rating is just about impossible.


The formula above makes me think that the person or people who made it up had some pretty specific ideas about what they were looking for and made a up a formula to give those foods high rates and other foods lower ratings. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't think this formula looks at some of the most basic stuff carefully, if at all. It seems to be about ingredients and nothing else.


Rather than giving a dog food extra points for glucosamine and chondroitin, I'd rather supplement my dogs if they need it.


Feed a dog a food made of great ingredients that has too much protein and too little fat and you'll have a dog that's hyper and lacking in stamina.


That said, the kibbles that I have had the best results with -- Canidae and Diamond lamb and rice -- do score pretty well.


Julie, I think you must have slipped down a line. Bil-Jac gets a 68/F.

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I really, really, really dislike this rating. And I'm a food snob myself. It's useful to get a person thinking about WHAT they are feeding (many people think "food is food" just because they'd never really thought of it). But so are some of the information sources out there, that actually explain what the ingredients are and give the reader room to make up their own mind.


As Bill says, there's so many factors that depend on the individual dog. Kibble shape and size, guaranteed analysis, whether the wonderful ingredients they think are wonderful will actually work for your dog. I have one dog that will literally end up at the vet if he eats chicken. In fact the only "normal" kibble he can actually eat is Natural Balance Duck.


Another dog I have drops pounds like crazy if I don't feed him the evil corn products, preferably in a shape his open bite can handle. I feed him the poorly scored Bil-Jac and he looks and works wonderfully. I definitely don't think Bil-Jac deserves such a low score. I'm not a fan of corn but I had to eat a lot of crow when Cord got here and lost a bunch of weight on the super premiums and raw feeding regime. I wonder how crow would score - I guess it would be all right if you didn't combine it with corn or grain fractions. :rolleyes:

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(Can I just say how happy I was when I saw Ben had gotten home safely?)



Like I said in the "what got you started" thread, I have to admit, as much as I have loved my dogs, they have been the recipients of some benign neglect. They got fed the Nutro by default, cause that's what I could think of off the top of my head when I was phoning in the horse feed order. They seemed happy and healthy and nobody died prematurely of anything so I thought I was doing ok.


Now I am taking an opportunity to try to do better..baby steps baby steps... but nutrition for my little predator friends is a far cry from my herbivores.


For an example of how far my thought process has been off, up until very recently my dogs had free access to dry food all day. Ala forager, you see? I'm so used to the concept of having to keep a gut constantly moving with low doses, I think I have just been lucky I had dogs that did ok this way and never had a problem.


So I need all the info I can scavenge.

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lol if I free-fed I'd have 2 really really tubby dogs, and one that woulnd't eat at all as I've had to drill it into his head that he really does need to take the time out of his day to stop and EAT!


I agree with most of what everybody's said. I am also a food snob (after many years of feeding my dogs Eukanuba by default - becuase it's for high-energy dogs right!?). I rotate a lot, but my one dog is starting to develop very minor food allergies to the usual chicken/white rice formulas. I usually stick with foods that have good ingredients (the usual definitions), a high protein/fat content (my male burns calories just lying around the house), and meet with the pickiest ones taste standards. (he'll eat anything after going hungry a meal or two, but there are definitely some foods he likes better than others - he and I usually agree on ingredient lists so I do take note!).


I generally avoid corn, unnamed meats and byproducts, second-hand ingredients like brewer's rice, and foods that really seem to have a low meat versus other stuff content. Single source is fine as long as it's still the major ingredient, and makes up as much of the food as possible. If it doesn't start with meat I don't feed it.


I especially look for: added pre/pro-biotics, taurine, and more veggies rather than lots of synthetic vitamins.


I also supplement with fresh veggies and cooked meat several times a week, along with some pre-made raw as I can afford.

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I feed purina lamb and rice and I free feed. Jackson and Skip are perfect weight. I was worried when the foster girls got here as they were already over-weight and this food is for active dogs. But Missy has lost ALOT of weight and Lucy has lost some. I think once the dogs get used to free feed, they don't tend to over eat. I only have two bowls for 5 dogs and they get filled up once a day. But it does really come down to what works for your particular dog. For every way that is sworn by, there will be 50 people who tried that with disastrous results.

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That is so true Linda. I have to feed mine twice a day because if I free fed, he would eat it all at once and he would tank up, then be hungery again by bed time. lol. This works for me, but I can see how it wouldn't work for everyone either.

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I'd agree that this rating system is very flawed. The proof is in the dog, ultimately... one dog's meat may be another dog's poison. People who work their dogs (particularly those who work them for a living) are right to be looking for a good protein to fat ratio, and that is likely to be way more important than if there's a single protien source.


I'm all for thinking about what your dog is eating and why. I am ALL for that. But you have to do some observing, as well, and do your own thinking. I just hate it when people start jumping on the bandwagon of "This brand of food is EVIL! Stay away from it and only feed brand X/raw/pixiesticks and gumdrops!" No one thing will work for every dog. Some dogs do fine on practically anything. Some do poorly on kibble but great on raw. Others, it must be pointed out, do poorly on raw and great on kibble. Some (as pointed out above) do poorly on corn, others do poorly without it. I like the statements made by Bill and Julie and Becca and all those who say, "I read the labels, I make a choice, I feed it AND I WATCH THE DOG to see how it does on that food."


I guess I feel that the rating system exampled above will steer people away from some potentially good feeds and toward some that may not be as good, because it contains no common sense. There's no reasonableness in deciding a food is crap because it has a single protien source, contains some salt and is extruded. Way too many variables are not taken into consideration. Also, I'm all for organic, but just because something is organic doesn't mean it's good for you. Aflatoxin is organic, and no one wants THAT. Water is inorganic, and we all need it. "Organic" is not the magic ingredient. I also feel like people decided somewhere along the line that lamb is magically hypoallergenic and beef is proallergenic. Nope. It DEPENDS ON THE DOG. This just drives me bats at work. "I feed my dog lamb and rice, how can it POSSIBLY be allergic to the food?" AAARGH. (Sigh.)


If this makes people think about what they're feding, all well and good. If they just blindly FOLLOW it... well, maybe not so much. The one thing we can all readily observe is HOW THE DOG IS DOING on the food. If it does well, keep with what you have. If it doesn't, start looking for alternatives.

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Originally posted by AK dog doc:

one dog's meat may be another dog's poison.


I also feel like people decided somewhere along the line that lamb is magically hypoallergenic and beef is proallergenic. Nope. It DEPENDS ON THE DOG. This just drives me bats at work. "I feed my dog lamb and rice, how can it POSSIBLY be allergic to the food?" AAARGH. (Sigh.)




It took a lot of tries for me to find what works for my dog. He's hyper sensitive to chicken. Tried Purina One Lamb and Rice with Yougurt, he did good for a while, then he got the runs like crazy. Until I discovered California Natural Lamb and Rice, when things finaly settled down (has only 4 ingredients and that's it - very simple food).


It's more than the ingredients, it's what works for the dog, not what the neighbour or popular beliefs say (basicaly it's what everyone here said ).

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