Dog food can be a pretty complicated topic, and there is a longer article on this site that details HOW to choose the best dry dog food for your dog, so for more precise information, please refer to that article.
I personally believe that dogs do best on a home cooked or raw diet, but I understand that many people do not have time to feed their dog this way and still want to feed their dog the best diet they can. Dog food companies know this about dog owners and so they have come up with all sorts of gimmicks and advertising (Can you say Beneful?) to sway your pocketbook their way.
Let’s make your life easier, shall we? Here are a few rules of thumb that will help you choose a good quality dog food for your Weim!
1) Find a dog food that is manufactured in the US or Canada. You’ll find that this exercise eliminates a lot of brands immediately! Most boutique brands and small companies source ingredients locally. Some, like Fromm and Acana, also use their own facilities and kitchens, unlike many of the other big brands that are owned by global conglomerates that outsource.
2) Can you recognize the first five ingredients of your dog food as FOOD? (For instance, what kind of food is “by-product” or “natural flavor” ? If it isn’t FOOD, then it really shouldn’t be in the top five!)
3) Look for ingredients in this order: named meat, named meat or meat meal, grain or grain substitute (like potatoes), vitamins and minerals.
4) The first ingredient on the ingredient list should be a named meat. (“Chicken” or “beef” is named. “Meat” or “poultry” is not. We want specificity here, so “chicken” is better than “poultry” which is better than “animal.”)
5) “Meals” are okay but “by-products” are not.
6) No BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin!
7) It’s best if there is a date on the bag, whether an expiration date or best-by date. Dog food does go bad and can make your dog sick. Don’t buy food on sale when it is close to expiring! Dry dog food is usually stable for about 12 months or less if it’s a fish-based food.
BONUS POINTS – Brands that discloses a total nutrient analysis or an actual nutrient analysis tested by a lab on their website.
For healthy dogs, I recommend switching foods or even mixing foods to avoid nutritional imbalances and also to keep the digestive system robust. Rotate protein sources, switch formulas, and switch brands as well.
If you are switching, you may want to try one of the four brands listed below. These aren’t the only brands that pass muster, and the list is hardly exhaustive, so be sure you run other brands through the rules of thumbs yourself so you can find other dog foods that you can feed with confidence!
Orijen‘s kitchens are in Canada, and they use ingredients fit for human consumption. Their protein sources are antibiotic-free, grass-fed (red meats), free-run (poultry) or wild and sustainably-caught (fish), delivered fresh or raw, and in whole-prey ratios.
California Natural Limited Ingredient isn’t necessarily one of my favorite dog foods ingredients-wise, but it can be a good choice for starting an elimination diet for Weims that have food allergies.
I like Acana Singles better. With 60% of the food being from easily digestible animal protein, such as lamb, this is also a limited ingredient food that can help jump start an elimination diet. You may find that going to a novel protein source will “cure” your Weim’s allergies immediately.
Fromm‘s got it figured out! They have their own kitchens and so have a tight handle on quality control. All of their food is traceable (from the bag back to the individual ingredient supplier) and lab tested.