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