The higher the quality of a dog food product, the higher the price. Do not simply assume, however, that the most expensive dog food products are the best ones – you still need to do some research to make sure that the product is in fact a high-quality dog food.
If you want to make sure that your dog’s nutritional needs are met in the best way possible, be prepared to invest in a high-quality dog food product. If you can’t afford a 5-star dog food, a 4-star dog food can still provide complete and balanced nutrition without breaking the bank.
What Goes Into a 4-Star Dog Food Brand?
A 4-star dog food brand may not offer the same quality as a 5-star brand, but it is still a great option for your dog. In order to be labeled “complete and balanced” by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), dog food must meet certain minimum requirements.
These requirements can be met using low-quality ingredients, but that won’t be the case for a 4-star cat food. A 4-star cat food will still be rich in protein and healthy fats with limited carbohydrate content.
The main difference between a 4-star and a 5-star dog food is that a 5-star dog food may contain more supplements (as opposed to natural sources of key nutrients like fruits and vegetables – it may also contain ingredients that some consider questionable (like dried beet pulp or brewers rice) but are not inherently dangerous for dogs.
When it comes to protein, a 4-star dog food will be rich in animal-based proteins like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. A high-quality source of protein (either fresh meat or a named meat meal) will be listed first on the ingredients list with supplementary proteins as well as healthy fats and digestible carbohydrates making up the rest of the top 10 ingredients.
A 4-star dog food may contain grains, though they should be digestible forms like whole brown rice or whole grain oatmeal, or it could be grain-free, made with starchy vegetables, beans, or legumes as alternative carbohydrate sources.
The recipe should ideally contain at least one source of animal-based fats, though there may be supplementary fat sources that come from plants such as plant oils or seeds.
Another difference between 5-star and 4-star dog food can be found in the fiber content of the recipe. A 5-star dog food will not have a crude fiber content much higher than 5% while a 4-star dog food might have a little bit more fiber, but not so much that you need to worry about digestive upset.
Some 4-star dog foods utilize supplementary fiber sources like dried beet pulp or brewers rice which are not the highest quality sources of fiber, but studies have not definitively shown them to be harmful ingredients.
Whereas a 5-star dog food might include two to four carbohydrates, a 4-star recipe might have a few more. You don’t need to worry, however, as long as the fiber content isn’t too high and the carbohydrates used are digestible for dogs.
Some 4-star dog foods make heavier use of supplements and additives than 5-star recipes, though this is not always a bad thing. Many 4-star dog foods will use a mixture of fresh fruits and vegetables and synthetic supplements to balance out the nutrient content of the product.
Synthetic supplements are not bad for your dog, but natural sources are always more biologically valuable. Many 4-star dog foods do include chelated minerals and dried fermentation products.
Chelated minerals are mineral supplements that have been chemically bound to protein molecules which makes them easier to absorb. Dried fermentation products act as probiotics to support your dog’s digestion.
Top Recommended Brands of 4-Star Dog Food
The best thing you can do to preserve your dog’s health and wellness is to feed him a high-quality diet. Unfortunately, the best dog foods out there come at a high price. You will be glad to know, however, that there are plenty of 4-star dog food brands out there which still offer quality nutrition but at a slightly lower price point.
If you choose a 4-star dog food for your dog you don’t have to feel guilty about compromising your dog’s nutrition for the sake of your pocketbook – the dog food brands listed below are all great options for your dog:
- 4Health Dog Food Review – Tractor Supply
- Annamaet Dog Food Review – Annamaet Pet foods Company
- Artemis Dog Food Review – Artemis Pet Food Company
- AvoDerm Dog Food Review – Breeders Choice
- Authority – Made by PetSmart
- Black Gold Dog Food Review – Pro Pet
- Blackwood – Blackwood Pet Food
- Blue Buffalo
- Canidae Review Dog Food Review – Independently owned
- Chicken Soup Dog Food Review – Diamond
- Eagle Pack Dog Food Review – Well Pet
- Evangers Dog Food Review – Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food
- Evolve – Sunshine Mills, Inc
- Fromm Dog Food Review – Fromm Family Foods
- Kirkland Dog Food Review – Costco Brand
- Natural Balance – J.M. Smucker Company
- Newmans Own Dog Food Review – Newman’s Own, Inc.
- Now Fresh – Petcurean
- NutriSource Dog Food Review – Family Owned
- Pinnacle Dog Food Review – Central Garden & Pet Company
- Rachael Ray – Nutrish
- Taste of the Wild Dog Food Review – Diamond Pet Foods, Inc.
- Under the Sun
- Whole Earth
You don’t necessarily need to spend a small fortune to feed your dog a high-quality pet food. There are many products on the market that are made with high-quality, wholesome ingredients but are still available at an affordable price point.
These recipes are still focused around premium proteins and healthy animal fats, though they may include some supplementary plant proteins and/or additional sources of dietary fiber.
All in all, however, 4-star dog foods still offer quality nutrition for dogs so you can feel good about feeding your dog one of the recommended brands listed above.