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The Best Dog Food Brands Veterinarians Feed Their Own Pets

© Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

By Lisa Marie Conklin, Reader's Digest

Every dog has its own needs, and the best diet for dogs will vary depending on size, breed, and more. If you just got a new pup, or your dog is refusing to eat their dinner and you're in the market for a new brand, check out the best dog food brands below.


Best human-grade dog food: Lucky Dog

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Prices Vary

Lucky dog is one of the best dog food brands for your pooch. Holistic house call veterinarian Patrick Mahaney, VMD, fed his dog Cardiff, a Welsh terrier, Lucky Dog because he was seeking a human-grade, cooked, whole food option. Cardiff suffered from immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) and passed on when he was 11 1/2 years old, but Dr. Mahaney says Cardiff had a better quality of life by eating Lucky Dog. "Cardiff thrived and seemed to recover more rapidly than anticipated from his first and three subsequent IMHA episodes while eating Lucky Dog Cuisine." Dr. Mahaney has seen significant improvements in his patients with various health conditions once they transition from processed dog food to Lucky Dog Cuisine. 


Best grain-free dog food: Wellness Natural Pet Food

© Via amazon.com

$40.99

Danielle Bernal, DVM, is an on-staff veterinarian for Wellness Natural, but even if she wasn't, she would be feeding it to her 16-year-old Border Collie, Megs. Dr. Bernal gives the credit to Wellness CORE because it has significantly improved Megs's canine atopic dermatitis, a condition that made her skin red and so itchy that she needed daily meds to control it. "The Wellness CORE Ocean formula helped her avoid key allergens like grains and allergenic proteins, but most importantly because it provides rich sources of natural omega fatty acids from increased amounts of salmon, it helped her skin inflammation," says Dr. Bernal. In just three months, Megs regained her soft coat and color and now only needs meds once a month for the occasional flare-up. Grain-free dog food has become a trend in recent years, and there are various opinions on whether or not it's better for your pooch, find out if it's really better for your pup.


Best vegan dog food: GATHER Endless Valley

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Prices Vary

Jennifer Adolphe, PhD in companion animal nutrition from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, created GATHER Endless Valley for vegan consumers with premium, certified ingredients. "Consumers are not only interested in what they can personally do to promote more sustainable practices, but are actively seeking ways to can get their dog involved, too," Dr. Adolphe says. Her 8-year-old Australian shepherd, Chip, eats up the protein-rich blend of peas, organic barley, organic oats, and lentils. "Additionally, Endless Valley provides another dietary option for people who have dogs that experience adverse food reactions and may benefit from a diet without meat," she notes.


Best freeze-dried dog food: Nature's Blend

© Via drmartypets.com

$59.95

Veterinarian Marty Goldstein, DVM, has his own furry entourage to display the benefits of the dog food he created. Joey, Tara, Redford, and Tilly are a healthy, energetic mix of breeds and ages that eat Nature's Blend, a premium freeze-dried dog food Dr. Goldstein created after more than 40 years of studying pet nutrition. "Its ingredients are of the highest quality; it has zero negative additives, chemicals, preservatives, or fillers. It is predominantly high-quality whole meats, which is how they ate in the wild—not byproducts or synthetics," says Dr. Goldstein.


Best dog food for larger breeds: Hill's Science Diet Large Breed

© Via amazon.com

$51.99

Katharine Kancer, DVM has a big mouth to feed. Her Bernese mountain dog, Ella, chows down on Hill's Science Diet Large Breed. "This specific food is complete and balanced with the nutrients she needs at this point in her life stage and is formulated for large breed dogs, which have slightly different nutrient requirements," says Dr. Kancer. For example, she says adult, large, and giant breed dogs benefit from having more glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids in their diets to help their joints.


Best whole food diet dog food: The Farmer's Dog

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Prices Vary

New York City veterinarian Jonathan Block, DVM, of the Worth Street Veterinarian Center feeds Neshi, his 16-year-old lab/golden mix, The Farmer's Dog, a whole food diet crafted from human-grade ingredients. "The Farmer's Dog has taken the extra measures to make sure all of their formulas are perfectly well-balanced according to AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), a non-profit group that sets standards for pet foods in the United States." The improved nutrient bioavailability helps his aging dog's energy levels, body conditions, mobility, and overall health.


Best dog food for dogs with dietary needs: Nutro

© Via amazon.com

$9.48

The pack of Los Angeles-based veterinarian Jeff Werber, DVM, includes four dogs with a variety of dietary needs, so he feeds them Nutro. "I like the brand because its varieties contain quality, real, recognizable ingredients that serve a purpose and meet my dogs' nutritional needs," says Dr. Werber. More importantly, Nutro satisfies all his dogs' taste buds—not an easy feat when you have four pups to please. He uses the senior variety formula for Herbie and Pierce, Tommy eats the adult formula, and Denzel dines on the limited ingredient variety because he has a chicken sensitivity.


Best rigorously tested dog food: Ollie

© Via myollie.com

Prices Vary

New York City veterinarian Imogen Slome, DVM, believes natural and fresh diets are best for people and dogs, including her pit bull, Sosa. "As a vet, I'm also extremely cognizant about food safety! There are so many recalls in the pet food industry, so what I like about Ollie is the rigorous testing they do on every batch for food safety, as well as nutritional adequacy," says Dr. Slome. Sosa, like many pit bulls, has sensitive skin and skin allergies, so Dr. Slome feeds her a single ingredient protein, Ollie Turkey, to keep skin issues under control.


Best lightly cooked dog food: The Honest Kitchen

© Via amazon.com

$68.59

Sarah Wallace, DVM, a veterinarian and nutrition expert for Fuzzy Pet Health, adopted Birdie, a rat terrier mix, from a shelter. She was found half-starved, but luckily Birdie eats a higher quality diet now. Dr. Wallace feeds her The Honest Kitchen because it is lightly cooked food. "I would never feed a raw food because I know how bad it feels to have food poisoning from bacterial contamination in my food; I want to minimize my dog's chance of getting food poisoning by feeding her cooked food." According to Dr. Wallace, lightly cooked dog food is more digestible than kibble, meaning it absorbs more vitamins, minerals, essential fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. 


Best big brand dog food: Beneful

© Via amazon.com

Prices Vary

Michael J. Anacker, DVM, a veterinarian at the Hodes Veterinary Group in Mine Hill, New Jersey, currently feeds his two labs, Munch and Chewi, Beneful. But he's not loyal to just one brand. If there's a good deal on a brand or a patient returns food to the clinic because the pet didn't like it, then he'll use that too, as long as the food is from a trusted dog food company. "My philosophy is that all of the major pet foods are good quality foods with only subtle differences," he says. "The larger companies are forever improving their foods and trying to beat their competitors. Therefore, if there is something wrong with a competitors' food they would call them out on it ASAP."


Best dog food for those with joint problems: Hills J/D Mobility

© Via amazon.com

Prices Vary

If your dog has joint problems, this food is one of the best dog food brands for them. With a Masters in animal science focusing on animal nutrition, Andrea Antonelli, another veterinarian at Hodes Veterinary Group has specific criteria when it comes to feeding her dogs. Some breeds like her German Shepherds are prone to joint problems, and the Hills J/D Mobility formula fits the bill for her three shepherds, Thor, Blitz, and Boris, along with her pitbull, Slyvia. "I will only feed my dogs food from companies that will give me a fed and dry matter percentage." "Fed" is the moisture content in the food, and "dry" is the actual amount of nutrients minus moisture. "I want to know exactly what is going in my dog's mouth."

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