What is the best dog food for your Morkie?

What is the best dog food for your Morkie?

Your Morkie deserves the best dog food, but with more than 5,000 varieties of commercial dog food available on the shelves today, how can you pick healthy dog food brands from the garbage? Here’s the scoop, plus 12 top quality foods you can buy.

There's only one way to pick a healthy dog food brand: Read the label. Very carefully.


First, look for foods that do not contain dangerous or toxic ingredients.

Next, look for healthy ingredients.

I’m not going to lie – this is not food we’d ever like to eat. But it’s clean, pure and unadulterated. And it’s perfect for dogs.

Avoid all dog food that lists any of these ingredients: 

MEAT. Just generic or unnamed meat can be from almost any kind of animal you can imagine. It could be road kill, euthanized pets, or spoiled grocery meats complete with styrofoam trays and plastic wrap. Look for food that NAMES the species. For example, beef, lamb, salmon, chicken, etc. 

OTHER GENERIC NAMES such as animal fat – or is it used restaurant grease? Could be.
Is Meat and Bone Meal listed? The problem is, you don’t know meat and bones from what animal??!!  Horse, goat, donkey??

Foods with ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS including the preservatives BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin and propylene glycol.

  • BHA is a preservative that’s linked to cancer in laboratory animals by the World Health Organization. It’s banned from use in human food in Europe and Japan, yet we feed it to our dogs.
  • BHT is also believed to cause cancer.Propylene glycol is a food stabilizer. It’s a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.

I want better than that for my dogs and I’m sure you do too.

Look for foods with healthy ingredients

Healthy dog food brands go beyond excluding bad ingredients. They actually contain GOOD stuff for our dogs.

Here’s what you want to see:

  • named animal protein – near the top of the list and plenty of it
  • whole veggies, fruits and grains
  • a ‘best by’ date that is at least 6 months away

The sad story of Kibbles ‘n Bits

A food with both hard crunchy kibble and soft chewy pieces, Kibbles ‘n Bits was introduced in 1981 by Big Heart Pet Brands. It was later sold to H. J. Heinz and then Del Monte.

Today, it is the 5th largest dry dog food brand in the USA, churning out about 1.7 million pounds a day or almost HALF A BILLION pounds a year!

Here’s the ingredient list, exactly as it appears on the package of Kibbles ‘n Bits:


Corn, soybean meal, beef & bone meal, whole wheat, animal fat (BHA used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, water sufficient for processing, animal digest (source of chicken flavor), propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, peas, caramel color, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), choline chloride, sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin), dl-methionine, calcium sulfate, carrots, green beans, wheat flour, titanium dioxide (color), yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, BHA (used as a preservative), blue 1.

Experts say the first five ingredients tell the story:

  1. corn
  2. soybean meal
  3. beef & bone meal
  4. whole wheat
  5. animal fat (BHA used as preservative)
  6. corn syrup

Corn? Corn? How is corn dog food? (And I’ve shown item #6 since it is corn syrup; yes, that syrupy sweet stuff they used to pour on our toast at camp!)

And it gets worse…

Kibbles ‘n Bits was recalled

by the FDA in February, 2018*

Sodium Pentobarbital was found in Kibbles ‘n Bits. Sodium Pentobarbital is a drug used to euthanize pets and small animals. It is NOT used to slaughter cows, sheep, pigs or any other food you’d expect your dog to eat.

The amount found is negligible as far as health goes, but that’s not the point.

Where and how in the supply chain does this drug get into dog food? 

Many pet food companies buy raw goods from rendering facilities that process animals euthanized at animal shelters.

That means that some pet food is made from a variety of meats that humans wouldn’t eat, including diseased livestock and cats and dogs containing lethal doses of sodium pentobarbital.

In other words, the body of a stray dog killed in a shelter may be ground up into dog food. Whether the Kibbles ‘n Bits recall is related to this practice is unknown. But logic says, there can’t be any other way it got there. 

* see the story in Newsweek magazine, or here on CBS

If we can’t trust a major, internationally-popular brand

like Kibbles ‘n Bits, where do we turn?

We read the labels ourselves. Very carefully.

In the meantime, here are some choices I've checked out for you.

What is the best dog food? Here are some healthy dog food brands.

There are many good, reputable dog food manufacturers out there. I’ve picked a very small sample to show you.


Acana Heritage Free Run Poultry, Red Meat, Meadowland –  all Acana is good for your dog.

Go! Daily Defence

Horizon Complete or Horizon Legacy

Merrick Backcountry

Origen Original

Wellness Complete Health

Here’s the kind of ingredients you want to see

Acana Heritage Dog Food

Fresh chicken meat (12%), chicken meal (12%), turkey meal (12%), red lentils, whole green peas, field beans, chicken fat (5%), fresh chicken giblets (liver, heart, kidney) (4%), herring meal (4%), fresh whole eggs (4%), fresh whole flounder (4%), herring oil (2%), sun-cured alfalfa (2%), green lentils (2%), whole yellow peas, pea fiber, fresh chicken cartilage (1%), dried brown kelp, fresh whole pumpkin, fresh whole butternut squash, fresh whole parsnips, fresh kale, fresh spinach, fresh mustard greens, fresh turnip greens, fresh whole carrots, fresh red delicious apples, fresh bartlett pears, freeze-dried chicken liver, freeze-dried turkey liver, fresh whole cranberries, fresh whole blueberries, chicory root, turmeric, milk thistle, burdock root, lavender, marshmallow root, rose hips, Enterococcus faecium, supplements: zinc chelate, vitamin E (preservative)


Fromm Grain Free varieties, including grain free chicken and duck pate; shredded beef in gravy, etc.

Go! Fit + Free variety of flavours that sound pretty darned good – turkey and trout stew anyone?

Holistics Select Grain Free Beef Pate, Chicken Pate, etc.

Merrick Grain Free and Chunky Grain Free canned foods including flavours like Pappy’s Pot Roast Dinner, Cowboy Cookout and more.

Nature’s Variety Instinct – chicken and beef formulas are available.

Wellness Core canned products including homestyle grain free beef stew with carrots and potatoes.

A good canned food

sample label, from

Go! Fit + Free

Chicken, chicken broth, turkey broth, chicken liver, turkey, turkey liver, potatoes, dried egg whites, potato starch, carrots, peas, trout, sweet potatoes, salmon, herring, red peppers, guar gum, flaxseed, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, apples, calcium carbonate, minerals (zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, cobalt amino acid chelate, potassium iodide), salt, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement), choline chloride, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tricalcium phosphate, Yucca schidigera extract

be a label reader and save yourself some grief

What’s for dinner?

What’s for dinner?

When you shop for dog food for your Morkie, your head might be spinning when you read labels. I believe the pet food manufacturers – a multi BILLION dollar industry – purposely confuse consumers. Why would they do that? So they can pass off sub-par food (made with the cheapest possible ingredients) as high priced, quality food.

There are many, many ways dog food makers can do that, and I’ll be reviewing them over the next few weeks. Let’s start with dog food names.

But first, who regulates the pet food industry?

morkie eating dog foodMeet the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials)

This is the group that regulates the pet food industry. You’d expect this to be an unbiased, third party group. Possibly a government organization or agency.


AAFCO is a private corporation. It is made up largely of PET FOOD COMPANY EXECUTIVES, business insiders and some elected officials in the United States and Canada. They set standards for their industry that are not very high, to state it mildly. The Association believes foods that are made up predominantly of ingredients like these, are just fine for our dogs:


Ground yellow corn, soybean meal, ground whole wheat, and corn syrup.


What’s corn syrup doing in dog food?

It covers up the putrid taste of processed food, to the point where your dog will find it reasonably palatable.

The role of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration ) is one of oversight.  They check that what’s on the label, is in the food. That, and whether or not the manufacturer’s name is correct on the label. They have no input or insights into what constitutes healthy pet food, and their recommendations to the AAFCO are generally considered ‘suggestions’ only. And generally ignored.

you gotta be kidding about whats in dog food

Unethical and shady: dog food names

That is what allows the industry to label dog food like this:

  • “Beef for dogs” then at least 95% of the product must be beef (or 70% when counting the added water)
  • “Beef dinner” requires the product to contain at least 25% of beef
  • “With beef” means the product contains at least 3% of beef. Buying a product that says “now with real beef” and you get only 3%!
  • “With beef flavour” means the flavour itself is detectable (from beef meal or beef by-products for example), there doesn’t have to be any actual beef meat present in the product

 Whats in dish of dog food


In summary

Don’t buy foods that are labelled as dinners, entrees, meals or anything along those lines: it means the food contains just 25% of the named meat.

“With beef” or “with beef flavour” are even worse so avoid them too.

Go for the simple animal protein name, such as Beef for dogs, Chicken or Lamb.

How to pick the best dog food

How to pick the best dog food

b&w and red dog bowlYou want to give your Morkie the best dog food you can, but how to decide, with literally thousands of choices in commercial dog food?

An invaluable resource is the website DogFoodAdvisor.com. Founder and editor Mark Sagman has made it his mission to help you make an informed decision when buying dog food. Since 2008, Mark and his team have reviewed almost 5,000 products.

Mark was moved to start the site when he and his family lost their beloved rescue dog, Penny, in the massive 2007 pet food recalls. You might remember, there were tens of thousands of pet deaths, mostly due to poisonous fillers in the food. Fillers like melamine – yes, the same stuff that is used to make kitchen counters. Read more on Wikipedia.

Here’s Mark’s basic advice about the best dog food:

Don’t pick dog food
that’s advertised on TV.

Pretty simple way to start your search for the best dog food. It’s based on the fact that many commercial dog foods are well known. But their popularity has nothing at all to do with their nutritional value. Popular brands like Purina, Alpo, Beneful, Hills Science diet and Pedigree dog foods all earn just 1 star out of 5 on dogfoodadvisor.com

Why? From harmful additives to mystery ingredients, these foods are made up of cheap fillers (corn, soybeans) that your dog can’t digest properly, or doesn’t need. They have “animal fat” from unidentified sources, such as dead, dying and diseased livestock and even euthanized pets!  And they’re processed at such high temperatures that much of the nutritional value has been cooked out.

Get alerts of dog food recalls

At dogfoodadvisor.com you can sign up for free dog food recall alerts. No cost and no obligation. Even quality foods can run into problems from time to time with batches of food that’s contaminated so these alerts are well worth getting.

Rethinking Nylabone

In a recent post, I wrote about the dangers of rawhide sticks. They can be a choking hazard and are manufactured with a lot of toxic chemicals.

I recommended alternatives, including a good quality nylon bone such as Nylabone. However, thanks to the DogFoodAdvisor.com website, I learned that even Nylabones can be recalled.

In April 2015, the Nylabone puppy starter kit was recalled because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Plus, if your Morkie can chew any bits of the Nylabone off, he could easily swallow these tiny plastic pieces, causing serious digestive problems.

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