If you were to randomly pick a bag of dog food off the pet store shelf, the chances are good that it will list chicken or rice as one of the main ingredients – maybe both. These are two of the most commonly used ingredients in pet food, and for good reason. Chicken is a lean source of complete animal protein and rice is a highly digestible carbohydrate. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional benefits of chicken and rice for your dog and to receive our recommendations for the top 4 brands of dog food that use chicken and rice.
The Nutritional Benefits of Chicken and Chicken Meal
Chicken is one of the leanest sources of complete animal protein used in pet foods and it is also one of the most inexpensive and therefore most common proteins. Chicken breast meat contains about 165 calories per 100-gram serving along with 31 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate, and 3.6 grams of fat. Only 1 gram of that fat is saturated – the rest is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. You should also know that, as an animal protein, chicken is a complete protein – it contains all of the essential amino acids your dog needs. It is also rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, niacin, vitamin C, vitamin A, and various B vitamins.
In addition to knowing the nutritional benefits of chicken for your dog, you should also know the difference between different types of chicken-based ingredients. Most pet foods that use chicken use chicken breast meat, the leanest part of the bird, but not all brands specify the type of chicken they use. Something else you should know is that there is a difference between fresh chicken and chicken meal. Both of these are made from fresh chicken meat, but the latter is cooked to remove moisture in a process that renders it a highly-concentrated source of animal protein. Fresh chicken meat contains up to 70% moisture by volume (which is how ingredients are measured for dog food ingredients lists). This means that when that product goes through the cooking process and the total moisture content is reduced to 10%, the final volume of the chicken will be much lower.
Chicken meal, on the other hand, has already been cooked to that 10% moisture level so it contains as much as 300% more protein by volume than fresh chicken. Both fresh chicken and chicken meal make excellent additions to dog food, but chicken meal is the more concentrated source of protein. This is important to keep in mind with dog foods that incorporate plant proteins. Many low-quality pet food manufacturers use plant proteins to increase the protein content of their recipes without actually adding more meat. If you see fresh chicken as the first ingredient and a plant protein in the second or third slot, you would be right to be concerned about how much of the total protein content comes from animal sources. If chicken meal is the first ingredient, however, you have less reason to worry.
The Benefits of White and Brown Rice
Rice is a type of grain that is generally very digestible for dogs and a popular carbohydrate in high-quality dog foods. Though most dogs tolerate rice very well, you must remember that it is a grain and therefore it does come with a risk for triggering food allergies. If your dog doesn’t have a grain allergy, however, either white rice or brown rice might be a beneficial ingredient. Brown rice is the whole grain -it includes the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. White rice has had the bran and germ removed which reduces the nutrient content but also makes it more easily digestible for some dogs.
A 100-gram serving of white rice contains about 130 calories with 2.7 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of fat, and 28 grams of carbohydrate. A 100-gram serving of brown rice contains about 111 calories with 2.6 grams of protein, 0.9 grams of fat, and 23 grams of carbohydrate. Brown rice is richer in dietary fiber as well as key vitamins and minerals like thiamine, niacin, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and vitamin B6. White rice is higher in starch and it contains more omega-6 fatty acids.
Our Top 4 Choices for Dog Food with Chicken and Rice
There are hundreds of dog food formulas out there that use chicken and rice as the main ingredients, but not all of them are worthy of your dog. Even if a recipe contains chicken and rice, it could still contain low-quality ingredients that negate the quality of the other ingredients. When shopping for a dog food made with chicken and rice, you need to evaluate the entire ingredients list to make a smart decision. If you’re thinking about switching your dog over to a dog food made with chicken and rice as the main ingredients, consider these four top-rated brands:
Nature’s Variety Prairie Chicken & Brown Rice Dry – The Nature’s Variety pet food company has quickly become known as one of the top brands on the market. Not only does this company offer high-quality products, but they offer a very large variety of products as well. This brand is an independent pet food company based in the U.S. and they own their own manufacturing facilities. Nature’s Variety is passionate about providing pets with healthy, holistic nutrition that nourishes their bodies from the inside out. They understand that pets are members of the family and that they should be treated as such with a healthy, flavorful diet. Nature’s Variety uses only the highest quality ingredients and they don’t use any corn, wheat, or soy. This company offers two separate brands of dog food – Instinct and Prairie. Instinct includes an assortment of top-quality products while Prairie offers both quality and affordability.
The Nature’s Variety Prairie Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food is a great choice for your dog if you want something healthy that won’t break the bank. As part of the Prairie brand, this recipe is designed to deliver optimal nutrition through a variety of simple but natural ingredients such as fresh meat, hearty whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. This recipe in particular is made with real chicken as the #1 ingredient with chicken meal for supplementary protein. Though oatmeal is the first carbohydrate listed, brown rice comes next so you can bet that both ingredients are used in a significant amount. This formula includes plenty of fresh fruits and veggies which not only provide carbohydrate energy and dietary fiber, but they also act as natural sources for key nutrients. This Nature’s Variety Prairie Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food recipe is also supplemented with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat plus probiotics for healthy digestion. Plus, each piece of kibble is sprayed with a freeze-dried coating for a boost of nutrition and flavor.
Wysong Adult Canine Formula Dry Food – The Wysong brand of pet food is unique in that many of their recipes are formulated for dogs as well as cats. This brand was established in 1979 and they label themselves one of the true pioneers of the natural pet food industry. Wysong follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition and they develop all of their recipes in-house to ensure quality and nutritional integrity. All of Wysong’s recipes are made with fresh, wholesome ingredients and they are nutraceutically enhanced for maximum quality. In regard to their dry dog foods, Wysong aims to mimic the archetypal diet of wild canines, designing each recipe to meet the carnivorous genetic requirements of dogs. Their products are designed for use in rotational feeding as well, which reduces the risk for food allergies and sensitivities. Their formulas also contain an industry-leading micronutrient spectrum.
Wysong’s dry dog food products are divided into four different product lines – Epigen, Optimal, Original Diets, and Optimize. The Original Diets line includes products for puppies, adults, and senior dogs as well as recipes that are high-protein, hypoallergenic, and vegan. The Wysong Adult Canine Formula Dry Food is a great example of a dog food made with chicken and rice. At the top of the ingredients list you’ll find fresh chicken and chicken meal, so you can rest assured that this product will not just meet but exceed your dog’s needs for protein. Next comes brown rice, followed by oat groats – both of these are whole grains and highly digestible carbohydrates. This recipe contains plenty of healthy fats in the form of chicken fat, flaxseed, and coconut oil – these ingredients also supply a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. You’ll also be happy to know that this formula contains chelated minerals and probiotics – it could be a great choice for your dog.
Newman’s Own Adult Dog Formula – You may think of the Newman’s Own brand as a human food manufacturer, but this company also offers a limited selection of pet food products. The Newman’s Own Company was founded in 1982 by Paul Newman and it continues to be one of the most charitable organizations in the country. This brand offers pet food products that are made with a unique blend of proteins, whole grains, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are carefully selected for pets in all life stages. Newman’s Own currently offers dry dog food, canned dog food, and dog treats – their largest selection of products is their wet food recipes. This brand makes most of their canned food products with organic ingredients, including several recipes that feature chicken and rice ingredients. For dry food, however, Newman’s Own only offers two recipes – their Adult Dog Formula and their Advanced Dog Formula.
The Newman’s Own Adult Dog Formula is formulated to support the nutritional needs of adult dogs and it is made with healthy protein as well as organic grains and vegetables. This formula contains 21% crude protein and 12% crude fat, with just 4.5% crude fiber to ensure digestibility. The first ingredient listed is chicken, though chicken meal appears a little further down the list – the combination of these two ingredients ensures the high protein content of this recipe. Rice is not the main carbohydrate in this formula, but this recipe is made with both brown and white rice. The main carbohydrates are organic grains including barley and oats, as well as grain-free organic peas. This recipe is rich in animal fats and it appears to offer good digestibility as well. You’ll also be glad to know that it contains chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption as well as dried fermentation products which act as probiotics to support your dog’s digestive system.
ProPac Ultimates Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula – The ProPac brand of dog food makes it their mission to provide the ultimate in pet nutrition – hence the name of their Ultimates line of dog foods. This brand believes in the power of quality nutrition which is why they only use the finest ingredients available and they follow high standards for quality and safety in the manufacture of their products. ProPac is based in the U.S. and they have their own manufacturing facilities so they have complete control over the quality of their products – this is something they are very proud of and they’ve never had a product recall. When it comes to their dog food, ProPac offers three product lines – Ultimates, Ultimates Grain-Free, and Superpremium. The Ultimates line includes several life stages and breed-size formulas while the Ultimates Grain-Free line is formulated for adult dogs. The Superpremium line only includes two recipes – one for puppies and one for adult dogs.
The ProPac Ultimates Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula is a great example of a dog food that features chicken and rice as the main ingredients. First on the list is chicken meal and it is followed by brown rice and white rice – it also includes rice bran. This recipe is highly digestible because it is made with a single source of protein and a digestible carbohydrate. Chicken fat is the main source of fat which is not only energy-dense, but it is also nutrient-rich – particularly in alpha linoleic acid. This recipe also contains fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients and it is supplemented with chelated minerals. You’ll also be glad to know that this ProPac Ultimates Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula contains a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat as well as L-carnitine to support your dog’s lean muscle mass.
If you want to feed your dog a chicken and rice dog food, don’t just pick out the first product you see. It is always a good idea to review the entire ingredients list for a dog food product before you make your choice. If you need help getting started with your search, consider one of our top-rated brands of chicken and rice dog food reviewed above.