Most common dog food questions – ANSWERED!

The Internet is overflowing with information and misinformation about dog food, with so many resulting questions.

I’ve compiled a list of the most common dog food questions from various social media sources across the Internet, and ANSWERED THEM!

I bet you have a number of questions too. Maybe some will be covered here, but if not ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to offer my advice.

I never profess to being 100% correct, and can only speak from my experience in pet food. If you have a different opinion, information, or perspective – comment!

Most common dog food questions : 2022

So here we go, in no particular order, these are the top dog food questions asked on the Internet in 2022:

Is Pedigree dog food good or bad for your dog?

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself if the food you feed your dog is good or bad for them?

There’s a lot of debate surrounding brands like Pedigree. Some of us swear by it, while others believe it’s not a good choice for a dog. So, what’s the truth?

If you read my review of Pedigree dry food you’ll find it rather negative. The reason for this is it’s largely comprised of cereals, and given I consider a dog a facultative carnivore I find this inappropriate.

You can argue all dogs are different, or some dogs are hardier than others, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Although some dogs live a seemingly healthy long life on a dog food such as Pedigree, my personal recommendation would be to feed a diet more applicable to what is essentially a carnivorous animal, or if you do feed a brand like Pedigree then perhaps offer some variety with different brands or fresh foods.

Do you think Pedigree is good or bad for your dog?

Why do dogs get so excited for human food?

Most dogs love food, period! After all, their lives revolve around eating, sleeping, and exercise. I bet your dog does!

Dogs are natural born scavengers, and as they see us as a source of food and security it’s only natural they want to scavenge from us as their human pack-mates.

Human food also offers variety and flavours which differ from their mundane daily diet, and there are lessons to be learned in this respect.

Most dogs are fed the same food day in day out. If you’ve read our reviews you’ll find many dog foods aren’t that great, so consider if you were your dog and had to eat that stuff all the time. Even with a great dog food, your dog still isn’t getting an interesting variety.

Dogs seek out nutrients, especially when their regular diet is lacking (which is always a possibility). Human food and leftovers might be a solution to those nutritional needs, especially if it’s a meat-based food or protein source. It’s the same reason a dog may excessively chew on grass or attempt to snatch food from humans.

Could a human survive on dog food for an extended period of time?

Firstly, I’m not sure if your dog will be happy if you eat their food. I know mine wouldn’t be!

Humans, like dogs, can survive on a singular foodstuff for an extended period of time. The 2004 documentary Super Size Me was testament to that, but also highlighted the inherent problems.

Dogs have more specific nutritional requirements than us, with a digestive system more geared to animal or whole prey diets. You could argue the human digestive system is more readily capable, allowing us to extract more nutrition from the same types of food. So if a dog can survive for an extended period of time on a dog food, then the same should apply to a human.

All that said I wouldn’t recommend even attempting it. Standards of dog food production are much more lax than human food production. Pet grade meat can’t legally be sold as human food for obvious reasons – it’s not of a sufficient standard. Our dogs are considered lower class citizens than us.

There’s also a vast range in quality between some dog foods and others, so if all else fails and your only means of survival is dog food, then at least choose a decent one!

Which dog food in Australia is the best?

In Australia we have some terrible dog foods, and some great ones. I wouldn’t say any dog food in Australia is the best, and as an advocate for variety in a dog’s diet I shy away from recommending any particular product.

The best dog foods, in my opinion, are those which show an emphasis to what a dog would naturally eat – clean meats, organs, and ingredients with known benefits to health and wellbeing. I’ll add species-appropriate raw meaty bones to this list as well, although these won’t feature per se in many brands of dog food, and those that do offer it in powder form which does little for dental health.

Another good question every dog owner should ask themselves, is whether any particular dog food product is “the perfect diet” for their dog. There are many ways to feed a dog, from raw feeding to high-end raw or dried dog food products. There are risks and benefits to all methods of feeding.

When it comes to the best dog food products in Australia, you can find a shortlist here, or the full list of reviews here.

Do dogs like dog food?

It’s a really good question, and very hard to answer. All dogs are different – some are fussier, some are hungrier. All dogs will eat dog food if they’re hungry enough, no matter how bad the food is. This doesn’t necessarily mean they like it.

A dog may devour a food because of additives or palatants used to entice them to eat something they wouldn’t naturally eat. A prime example is a kibble made of cereal grains combined with an animal fat or digest, which is a recipe for many low-end and widely fed dog foods. Many dog owners believe their dog loves a food because they eat it, which actually bares no relation to whether it’s good for them.

It may be easier to consider this the other way, which is the reasons a dog won’t eat a dog food. There are a variety of reasons for this:

Perhaps the food doesn’t offer them the nutrients their instincts are telling them to seek out, which is more common than you may realise with many brands of dog food. Perhaps they’re bored of it, or not hungry. Perhaps, in some cases, they have an underlying illness, discomfort, or tooth pain which should always be considered if a dog isn’t eating. It’s a common occurrence for a dog to be enthusiastic about a new food, yet within a few weeks turn their nose up.

Is it harmful for cats to eat dog food?

The short answer is yes, and I strongly discourage feeding your cat a commercial dog food.
I wouldn’t worry too much if your cheeky cat eats the dog’s food on the odd occasion, but over the long term you would possibly see signs of illness, lethargy, and poor heart health.

Cats are factually obligate carnivores, with a greater dependency on meat proteins, fats, and amino acids like taurine, to their canine counterparts. As dogs are widely considered as omnivores (of which I disagree), commercial dog foods contain less meat, less animal fat, and less essential amino acids to commercial cat foods. In short, regulations for cat foods are more stringent than those for dog foods.

Dog foods often contain more grain or starches than cat foods, which a cat will struggle to digest. Kidney disease and UTIs are already rife in the cat world, and you should ask yourself why ingredients like cereal grains are so common in commercial cat foods, supposedly for obligate carnivores. It’s also worth asking yourself why this is the case for dog foods as well.

I would argue many dog foods likely fall short of canine nutrition, so feeding a dog food to a cat is asking for trouble, especially over an extended period.

My dog hates dog food and prefers boiled chicken. Why does dog food contain things other than meat, such as rice?

The main reason rice is found in many commercial dog foods is it allows a manufacturer to keep production costs down and make a profit.

There is an expectation for commercial dog foods to be “cheap”, which pressures a manufacturer to create a product which meets the nutritional requirements of a dog (such as the AAFCO standard). These are generally expensive ingredients such as meat, fish, quality omega 3 & 6 inclusions, vitamins, or chelated minerals. Too much of these ingredients leads to a product price which puts off consumers. Rice and similar ingredients allow a manufacturer to keep costs down (and profits up).

Many dog food formulas meet the nutritional requirements, namely protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals, within a percentage of the formula, offering leeway to complete the formula which is cost effective and often debated for it’s nutritional merit.

Personally I wouldn’t consider rice an overly problematic grain in a dog food, but it should be kept in moderation, and there are worse alternatives – wheat, undisclosed cereals, or cereal by-products as key examples.

If your dog appears to hate a dog food yet appears enthusiastic about chicken, then this is something instinctual to your dog and something worth considering. It doesn’t mean you should switch your dog to a diet of boiled chicken as this doesn’t meet the complex nutritional requirements of your dog, but it should suggest a diet richer in meat or whole-prey ingredients could be a solution.

Are slaughtered horses really used for dog food?

Sadly this can and does happen. In Australia, the toxic horse meat scandal of 2021 was testament to this, which resulted in the deaths of many Australian dogs. The horse meat, labelled as beef, fell under the pet-grade meat category.

Given the standards for dog foods aren’t as stringent as human-grade foods, horse meat re-entering the food chain as dog food is quite possibly a more common occurrence than we would like to believe

It’s also likely horses aren’t the only animal to re-enter the food chain and sold as pet food.

What is the best dry dog food?

There is no best dry dog food, and as an advocate for rotational feeding I consider feeding one particular commercial dry dog food product as a potential cause of issues. Feeding one product puts complete reliance on the food meeting the complex nutritional needs of a living animal, with a potential risk it may be lacking in one or more nutrients, or possibly leading to a build up of toxins, vitamins, or minerals in excess.

That said, there is a vast difference in quality of many dog foods, which means some are much better than others. Opting for those brands is a good start, and you will find reviews here.

My dog doesn’t like dog food at all. What can I add to dog food to make them eat it?

Firstly, it’s worth considering why your dog doesn’t like a dog food. There may be a good reason for this, such as it may not appeal to their instincts and nutritional requirements, or they may have an underlying illness, discomfort, or tooth pain – all of these must be considered.

Assuming there are no underlying health issues, switching to a different dog food is worth considering.

If your dog is a picky eater there are a number of methods to entice them to eat a dog food, which can also add nutrition. Bone broth is an excellent option, both wonderful for nutrition and easy to make with a slow cooker and some cheap human-grade meaty bones or whole chicken.

Mixing the dog food with fresh meat, meat mince, eggs, tuna or salmon (in springwater), or the aforementioned bone broth are great ways to entice a dog to eat a dog food.

What foods are bad for dogs?

A good rule is not to feed your dog anything you feel may be bad for them. Chocolate of any kind, onions, grapes, or raisins should never be fed to a dog. Avocado skin and pips are harmful, so use caution around your dog when preparing food.

Many foods are fine in moderation yet harmful in excess. Garlic is one such example, being included in some dog foods in moderation, but can pose risk if your dog were to consume whole cloves.

Keep in mind your dog, being from the Order Carnivora, has a bias towards meat and whole-prey ingredients, so sugary foods and junk food should never be considered a treat for them. Be wary of dog foods made excessively of grains, starches, or ingredients which may be considered “fillers”, and keep in mind cheap dog foods may contain unhealthy or substandard ingredients.

If your dog does consume any of the foods listed above, particularly in excess, then it’s worth contacting your vet immediately. They will assess risk and may induce vomiting to help prevent ill effects.

What’s the difference between cat food and dog food?

Cats are obligate carnivores and dogs are considered on the scale of carnivore to omnivore, so there are similarities in their respective foods. The main difference between cat food and dog food is the protein content, with more stringent requirements for a cat food to contain a higher level of protein.

Cat food requires more taurine, an essential amino acid, than dog food. Until recently taurine was considered essential for cats but not dogs, but scientific evidence in recent years has shown dogs to also suffer taurine deficiency which leads to poor heart health. Taurine is naturally sourced from animal ingredients, which meant commercial dog foods lacking in these ingredients led to taurine deficiency and a condition Canine DCM (Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy).

Cat food often contains more fat than a dog food. The metabolism between a cat and a dog is similar, but the emphasis of a cat being an obligate carnivore means they metabolise fat into energy whereas a dog can metabolise both fat and carbohydrates into energy.

Can I use Royal Canin dog food as a dog treat?

Any food which excites your dog may be used as a treat, including Royal Canin. My personal preference for training treats is boiled chicken or an air or freeze dried dog food which is easy to carry in a bag in your pocket.

When feeding any type of treat to your dog care must be taken not to feed anything unhealthy in excess. General dog treats do not adhere to minimal nutritional requirements and can use sugars, excessive starches or binders, and possibly ingredients which may lead to toxicity. Using a commercial dog food as a treat should offer some confidence in the treat being nutritious, but whether Royal Canin is the right choice is a decision I’ll leave to you.

By the way, the Royal Canin dog food review may be found here.

Is Costco dog food good?

Consumers are drawn to Costco due to affordable prices, which in terms of dog food can be highly beneficial if you own a “hungry” breed like a Labrador or live in a multi-dog household.

The leading dog food brand at Costco is Kirkland. Despite being a “home brand” of Costco at an affordable price, it’s actually manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods who make Taste of the Wild. From an ingredient and analysis standpoint Taste of the Wild is the more “premium” of the two, but there should be reassurance knowing these dog foods are sold worldwide and generally have a long standing, and fairly decent reputation.

What is the best homemade food for dogs?

The best homemade food for dogs is almost impossible to answer. Care must be taken with any homemade dog food diet to ensure the complex nutritional needs of the dog are met. Failure to do so may lead to health conditions, and it may take many years before symptoms begin to show.

Many believe dogs should eat a raw food diet, which mimics what a dog would eat “in the wild”, and some prefer cooked as a less risky option. There is a great deal of information on raw feeding, and time has shown many dogs to live a long and healthy life on such a diet.

If you decide to opt for a homemade diet for your dog, then research well, cover all bases (meat, offal, bones should be fundamentals), and seek out experts to learn from. One expert I personally recommend is Australian vet Tom Lonsdale, and I wholeheartedly recommend you read his book Work Wonders – an invaluable insight into how to feed your dog.

Do you have any more questions about dog food? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them honestly and without bias!

Calling Aussie pet lovers – join the mailing list!

David D'Angelo

David D'Angelo has worked as a scientist since graduating with a BSc (Hons) in 2000. In addition, David holds a CPD accredited Diploma in Pet Nutrition as well as being CPD accredited VSA (Veterinary Support Assistant). However, his experience and involvement in the pet food industry for 15+ years has given true insight into pet food, formulations, science, research, and pet food marketing. Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Pinterest

  1. Thanks so much for sharing all your wisdom! Much appreciated. I am just after suggestions for species appropriate bones for a 20 month old Labrador.. he just loves gnawing away at one and I love the idea of it for dental health but he seems to crunch up and devour the whole bone, which I’m guessing is not ideal….
    Also thanks for the book recommendations I will try to track them down.

  2. Hi there,

    I’m currently feeding my 7 year old dog, a fox terrier x chihuahua, a combination of taste of the wild dry food and ziwi peak wet food. I’m looking to transition him onto lyka and mix it with taste of the wild dry biscuits (rotating with stay loyal biscuits).

    Lately, I’ve been becoming more concerned about his dental health and have fed raw chicken necks in the past with little improvement. Im just wondering what raw meaty bones you would recommend for my dogs dental health, and whether this would be fed daily or 1-2 times a week etc?
    I am aware that I should wait until he is off the ziwi as it contains ground bone, and we should avoid doubling his calcium intake.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) January 21, 2023 at 7:11 pm

      Hi Emma, a rule of thumb would be no bones which he could swallow whole, and no weight-bearing bones. He may be okay with a larger bone to chew on. If in doubt, keep an eye on him.

      I highly recommend the book Work Wonders by Tom Lonsdale. Tom’s a dental vet and I believe this book of his would answer many of your questions.

      Raw feeding groups (such as on Facebook) are quite good sources of information as well. I have some concerns when feeding a BARF food with ground bone combined with raw meaty bones, but you may find your dog as a smaller breed will gnaw the bone rather than consume it – which still offers the dental benefits!

  3. Hi there,
    Hope you are well!
    Could you please provide your opinion on alternative foods for a dog that had to go onto a ural diet due to crystals in her bladder?
    She used to be on lyka and grain-free dry food (various with majority protein as main ingredient – we were even worried having her being put onto this diest due the ingredients as well as being first 2 ingridients: Brewers Rice and Corn Starch.

    However, later on, her urine and blood tests showed that all of her crystals are gone and she is a very healthy girl, however, will most likely need to stay on this diet for the rest of her life. We of course just want her to be healthy but
    there is no variety, there are only 2 brands that do this diet and we can’t imagine that she will have to just eat this (wet and dry) food for the rest of her life.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) September 19, 2022 at 5:50 pm

      Hi Elena, when it comes to Royal Canin and Hill’s Renal diets I find the wet foods much more appropriate in terms of ingredients (more meat, less corn and rice). If they seem to be the open diets that seem to keep crystals at bay then at least feed some of the wet alongside, and perhaps some fresh meats/organs/meaty bones?

  4. Thank you for all your hard work – I can’t imagine how long this all takes!!!

    I have two adorable cavoodles that are 11yo months old and SUPER picky.

    I have tried frontier for 9 months – they hate it. Even with sardines, chicken, tuna mixed through! They like ziwi but I think that’s a bit more of a topper/treat.

    There’s a “new” raw food in town ‘for fresh’ – hated it too!

    I have just opened a pack of Orijen puppy and they love it! But now I’m super stressed since it’s a kibble … am
    I being over the top in worrying? The last week they haven’t been eating, so that fact that they are getting some nutrition (?) in them is a win?

    Gosh, I sound so confused and stressed! Am hoping you can help!

    Btw – I’ve tried barf which they (and the household) hated! As a working mum of two, cooking isn’t an option so after the best for them (from a shop!)

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) July 27, 2022 at 10:13 pm

      Hi Sandra, wow they really do sound picky!

      Orijen is a fantastic food even though it’s a kibble, so that’s good if your Cavoodles are eating it. Do they eat mince, such as raw beef mince in Coles or Woolies? I’ve found some dogs turn their nose up at BARF, but will readily eat raw – i.e. raw meat, organs, bones etc.

  5. What is your understanding of risks posed by feeding dogs raw pork? I was interested in your review of the Frontier Pets freeze dried raw food but they only have three options, one of which is pork. We have been on a long hunt for appropriate foods to feed our 18 month old Poppy who suffers from PRAA which constricts her oesophagus. Finely minced raw food has been a great recent find, but we currently have her on BIg dog and the high bone content is, I think, causing some constipation in her. The Frontier option sounds like it could be our next go-to, or a way of reducing the amount of Big Dog while keeping a balanced raw diet.
    Appreciate your thoughts.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) July 7, 2022 at 7:36 pm

      Hi Annie, most of the concerns with pork are trichinosis, which is almost non-existent these days in human grade commercial meats. Not once have I received a negative report with the Frontier Pets pork formula, so I’m pretty sure you’ll have no problems. It’s certainly a far better option than many for a dog with PRAA.

      • Hi,
        We’ve been feeding our dogs whole frozen sardines, as part of a varied diet. They love them, and prefer them to cooked fish.
        However I’ve been seeing articles that say the bones are dangerous, and there is a risk of parasites which is making me anxious.What is your opinion?
        Plus, a vet advised me that dogs digestions prefer to be fed consistently on one food. Preferably a commercial one to make sure they are getting all their needs, and consistant so the digestive system is not upset. Our dogs diet is very varied (and includes raw meats, offal, raw fish, veggies, small amout of Greek yoghurt with flaxseed etc) but they seem happy, and so far have no problems with digestion. In fact they rarely vomit, which our girls on commercial foods used to do regularly. Are there benefits to the dogs digestive systems to feeding the dog on one type of food?
        Sometimes I get anxious that I’m doing the wrong thing

        • Pet Food Reviews (Australia) May 9, 2023 at 9:14 pm

          Hi Julie, the way I look at it is this – imagine if you were told you must eat the same processed food ALL THE TIME or otherwise you would get sick. Wouldn’t that be a crazy notion?

          Why would dogs and cats be any different from us?

          I feel the belief a dog must only eat one brand of kibble stems from pet food marketing. Many of the big global conglomerates have done very well convincing consumers they must use their product daily, every day. The makers of vet-recommend diets like Hills, made largely of grains for pet carnivores, are no exception – Colgate Palmolive! I’m guessing you brush your teeth every day, and use shampoo most days as well (I do). I won’t go down that rabbit hole, yet most Indigenous folk had excellent teeth and hair before being introduced to these products!

          When I hear of a dog being sick on a new food, most of the time it turns out they were fed a single brand of dog food (usually not that great either) for a long period of time. That means it’s no different from us if we spend a long time on a limited diet and then try something different.

          There are risks to feeding raw meat and fish, parasites being one, but I almost never hear of issues in this respect. I’ve fed frozen sardines to my dogs (and cat) for years, and never had any problems whatsoever. We’re probably more at risk of parasites (or salmonella) than our dogs, such as if we don’t wash our hands after feeding them.

          I would say the current diet of your dog being varied and full of nutritious foods (and appropriate for their nature) has to be better than a kibble formulated mostly from cereal grains?

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