pug puppy eating a bone in the garden

You may know premium dog food is better for your canine pal. After all, quality ingredients, lower fat and salt levels, and no artificial added extras can only be a good thing.

But do you know what exactly goes into these dog foods, to make them premium-quality? And would you be able to tell if a product really lived up to the title?

We’ve put together this handy guide to help answer these questions, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not a product is up to scratch for your four-legged family members.

Always check the ingredients

White dog eating a tin of Barking Heads dog food

There is only one way to tell if a dog food is high quality: check the ingredients list!

Even if words like ‘premium’ and ‘quality’ are splashed across the label, take a close look at the back of the packet for your nutritional information. That’s where you’ll find the facts, not the hype.

Lots of brands will have this information on their website too; we have a dedicated page called ‘What goes in our food?’ as well as a list of ingredients on each of our product pages.

Websites like All About Dog Food will also show ingredients, so even if you stock up on Fido’s food from home, you can still do an all-important ingredient check.

What ingredients are in premium dog food?

happy golden retriever in the garden

Now you know where to look, what do you need to look for?

Being natural carnivores, dogs require a certain amount of meat to truly thrive, so a look at the actual meat and fish content is a must. This should top the list - since ingredients must be in descending order by weight, it’s a bad sign if the meat is buried way down the list.

The higher the percentage of chicken, lamb, turkey and the like, the better. Lots of meat or fish means lots of quality protein, essential fatty acids, iron and more goodness.

It’s always good to see fresh fruits and veggies on the label too; just as the vitamins and minerals in these foods are good for those of us on two legs, they are great for your dog’s health too!

The same goes for whole grains such as rice, barley and ground oats. These slowly release carbohydrates, giving your pooch plenty of energy.

Look out for fats and oils that are specifically named by the type of fish, animals or vegetable. For example, two of the ones we use are salmon oil and sunflower oil.

What ingredients are not in premium dog food?

grumpy looking bulldog

You’ll never see terms such as ‘animal derivatives’, ‘meat flavouring’, or unidentified sources like ‘meat’ or ‘poultry’ rather than beef or chicken on premium food labels. These generally contain a tiny percentage of actual meat.

You don’t want to see too many fillers in your doggy’s diet, so beware of high percentages of grain. This will ensure the other ingredients are effective and be kinder on their tummy.

Quality dog foods will not contain artificial preservatives either. Some of the key ones to know and avoid are BHA and BHT, while natural preservatives such as ascorbic acid and rosemary are healthy alternatives.

Likewise, artificial colouring and artificial flavourings are no-nos in premium-quality dog food. Natural ingredients only make up the best recipes!

Have you learnt something new about dog food ingredients or packaging? Get in touch on FacebookTwitter or Instagram if you want to share your thoughts or ask our team a question.


Read our Dental Tips blog by Vet Dr Scott Miller and Barking Heads, answering all your questions on dental health and how to take care of your pets teeth!


*The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified pet health provider with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s health*