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What is the best dog food?

What is the best dog food?

Cecilie Hemsen Berg

Selecting the best dog food for our furry companion is one of the most important decisions we make in regards to their health. Whether you provide your dog with dry food, wet food, raw food or home-cooked food –  the healthiest diet should ensure all the nutrients needed for growth, maintenance, repair and general well-being. Malnutrition occurs in cases where the dog receives an unbalanced diet. Prevention is better than cure, and a wholesome, balanced diet combined with regular exercise, love and care can maintain our dog’s health from puppyhood through to “the golden age”. 

In Nala Health, we focus on the combination of high-quality raw materials providing protein, essential fatty acids and complex carbohydrates, in addition to vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and probiotics. Our food has been developed by specialists in animal nutrition. Every ingredient is added to keep dogs healthy by securing a complete meal every time without putting too much pressure on our planet’s resources.

Signs fido is on the best dog food

  • The stools are normal. 
  • The coat is shiny, soft and smells nice.
  • The eyes are clear with a white sclera. 
  • Fresh breath, healthy gums and teeth.  
  • Consistent and lean body weight. 
  • Your dog will have good energy and feel happy and content.
best dog food

Constipation, diarrhoea, dull coat, itchy skin, recurring ear infections, poor energy, lethargy, weight issues etc. may indicate that the food is not providing your dog with all nutrients needed, or that your dog is allergic or sensitive to some of the ingredients. You can read our blog “8 signs of a healthy dog”.

Premium vs economic 

A typical difference between premium and economic brands are the raw materials used in the formulation and production of the final products. It is important to note that dog food produced in both categories are complete and balanced and will meet the nutrient requirement for your dog. However, they will differ in many other aspects such as gut health, cellular protection, energy metabolism, stool quality, brain health and so forth. High-quality raw materials are expensive, so we do not find high-quality food among the cheapest products and these may therefore not be the best dog food for your dog long term.

best dog food

Give quality protein

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are found in meat, fish, edible insects, eggs and plants. Dogs need 10 essential amino acids in each meal to make a complete protein. High-quality proteins are easily absorbed by the body (bioavailable). Good sources of protein are black soldier fly larvae, venison, ostrich, rabbit, duck, wild-caught fish and free-range chicken to mention a few. Plant protein sources are for example lentils, chickpeas and peas.

Insect protein

Edible insects like black soldier fly larvae have many advantages, both as a nutritious food source and environmentally, needing less water, food and land. These insects have been researched extensively to understand their nutritional content and health benefits, both for animals and humans. BSFL is a complete protein for dogs, in addition to providing healthy fats, minerals and fibre. 

In Nala Health we use black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) from an EU-certified farm in Cape Town. It is a clean, traceable and predictable food source. They eat what is left over after beer brewing (so-called mash). No antibiotics and growth hormones are used. BSFL is a new protein source in dog food and can be beneficial for dogs with food allergies or food sensitivities. Black soldier fly larvae are easily digestible and have an umami taste (a little bit like bone broth) most dogs appreciate. 

best dog food

Offal as a protein source

High-quality, organic offal can be a beneficial addition to the diet for some dogs if they are not sensitive to high purine levels (like Dalmations). Purine is present in most food, but levels are fairly high in red meat, fish, seafood and offal/organ meat. This can cause the formation of crystals/stones in the urinary tract.

High protein content is not recommended for dogs with kidney problems or other health concerns. The best is to give your dog quality, not quantity. 

Animal by-products

Animal by-products are parts of a slaughtered animal that are not fit for human consumption. The vast majority of this material undergoes a process called rendering, which might not provide the best quality. Regulations for meat and fish production, the use of antibiotics and growth hormones and the composition of meat meal and animal by-products can differ from country to country. No meal will ever be better quality than the meat it was sourced from, and the nutritional content and quality of protein depends on what the animal or insect eats, and its lifestyle.

best dog food

Fat for good health

Fat is the number one energy source for dogs, and fat is needed in order for the body to absorb vitamins A, E, D and K (fat-soluble vitamins). The best dog food will contain essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6. They are necessary for cognitive performance and the central nervous system, eyes, joints, skin and coat, immune system, and more. Omega 3 can also alleviate inflammation and allergies. Good sources are high-quality, wild-caught fatty fish (sardines, mackerel) fish oil, black soldier fly larvae, marine algae, green-lipped mussels, whole eggs, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, cold-pressed canola oil and sunflower oil. Complex carbohydrates such as millet, sorghum, oats, quinoa, barley etc. provide additional energy, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, fibre, beneficial fatty acids and protein. Gluten-free ancient grains like millet and sorghum are less resource-intensive compared to soy, corn/maize and wheat. In addition, they provide useful nutrients. Soya, wheat and corn can cause allergic reactions.

Vitamins, minerals and trace elements

They need water-soluble vitamins B and C, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as minerals and trace elements such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, copper, zinc, iodine, chromium, manganese and selenium are all needed every day in correct amounts to stay healthy.

Nutrients for gut health

The digestive system plays a key role in our dogs’ overall health and well-being, and the best dog food should provide some gut health benefits. A diet providing clean and complete protein, essential fatty acids and complex carbohydrates will benefit the gut. Dogs can also eat some fermented foods. Nala Health dog food contains probiotics, chicory root and beta-glucans (prebiotic or fermentable fibre), which contribute to a healthy gut microbiome.

best dog food

Other beneficial ingredients

Antioxidants helps protect your dog’s cells from free radicals and help reduce oxidative stress. These are found in colourful vegetables, herbs like turmeric, rosemary and cinnamon, fruits and berries (like alpha- and beta carotene, lycopene and lysine found in carrots, sweet potato, watermelon etc). Essential fatty acid like omega 3 (found in marine algae, and fat fish) are good for among other things, cognitive health. Taurine, L-Carnitine are amino acids especially important for heart and fat metabolism. Tryptophan is an other amino acid that can be beneficial for mood and mental health. Glucosamine, collagen and MSM are good for joints.

Good quality dog food does not contain sugar, sweeteners, artificial colour and flavour, fillers (like “modified corn starch”), derivatives or harmful preservatives.

The best dog food for each life stage

Dogs need different blends of nutrients suited to their size and life stage. For example, the protein requirement for dogs varies depending on their life stage, phase of development, health/disease status, and activity levels. 

best dog food


Puppy food contains more calories, protein and fat than food for adult dogs, in addition to an optimal combination of vitamins and minerals to ensure healthy development of tissues and active learning; DHA omega 3 is important for the development of the brain, heart and eyes. 


Large and small dogs have varying nutritional needs, including calorie levels and nutritional density. Large dogs benefit from a diet that supports joint health. Small breeds need more concentrated levels of nutrients because they eat small portions.

Senior dogs

Seniors (age 7+) need more rest and recuperation, and their level of activity gradually decreases. They need fewer calories, less fat and protein while maintaining the total nutritional content. Less activity can contribute to slower digestion and constipation, which fibre and probiotics can help with. Nala Health senior dog food contains, among other things, L-carnitine, Taurine, choline and marine omega 3 to support cognitive health, heart health and fat metabolism.

Pregnant and lactating dogs

If your dog is pregnant or nursing her puppies, she needs an energy-rich diet that supports lactation and gestation. Puppy food can give her the nutrition she needs both to maintain her own health and ensure healthy puppies. You will need to feed her a little and often and get regular check-ups to ensure her weight gain is healthy.

Nala Health has developed 4 complete diets based on science for puppies, small dogs, medium to large dogs and seniors (also beneficial for weight management).

Combination/hybrid diets

Dogs can appreciate variety both in regards of ingredients and texture. As long as you provide your dog a nutritional, well-balanced, high-quality diet you can vary the meals by mixing in some steamed vegetables, some fruit and berries, a few pieces of clean meat/fish, some high-quality wet food, bone broth etc. Moderation is the best policy, neither over-feed nor under-feed.

It is recommended that any new ingredients are introduced one at a time, as it will be easier to determine the cause should your dog have an adverse reaction. If you are changing from one type of food to another, it is advisable to have a transition period of over a week or so mixing in the current diet with the new diet.

Furthermore, it is important that you know which foods dogs should not have. You can read more in our blog here.

Adding a new dog to your family

Hygiene and food safety 

Cleaning the food- and water bowl every day in addition to preparing and storing the food correctly prevents bacterial contamination.

Dog food manufacturers have to follow strict regulations in order to ensure the quality of ingredients and final product to prevent toxins such as salmonella, e-coli or other disease-causing bacteria, parasites, fungi etc. in the food. Nala Health dog food is steam cooked in EU-certified facilities in South Africa, and every batch is controlled by the state vets both in South Africa and in Norway.
The packaging is also important with regard to food safety – i.e. that it protects the food from air and light to ensure freshness and quality. Make sure the packaging is food safe, preventing contaminating the food with toxins. Nala Health dog food comes in PET plastic bags, which is food safe and recyclable.