When it comes to our dogs, we want to feed them the best within the budget we can afford to spend every month. Fortunately, in recent years, most global pet food brands have come to India and Indian dog owners now have plenty of options to choose from. India is diversified when it comes to economic conditions and you don’t need to be filthy rich to buy / adopt a dog or a pup.
There are dry dog food options which cost anything as high as Rs700-Rs1000/kg to something like Rs1000 for 10kgs. Yes, a lot comes down to what you can pay. In course of 12 years of pet ownership, I have tried and tested multiple brands on my dogs as well as been in touch with hundreds of pet owners and many veterinarians and learned from their experience.
In this article, we are going to look into most commercial dog food brands widely available in India regardless of their price.
1)Super-premium, Pricey, Best money can buy :-
a)Orijen/Acana – If I am not wrong, the priciest commercial dog food available in India comes from Orijen. Not just in India, they are one of the top-most brands across the world. Their products do have a premium feel when it comes to everything – be it ingredient quality or style of packaging. The moment you take one of their packets in your hand, you feel that this is something else. Food is incredibly tasty, most dogs like it.
- Thoughtfully sourced ingredients.
- High protein diet.
- Almost natural flavor, some freeze-dried which most dogs like.
- Grain-free, human-grade ingredients.
- Extremely pricey, well outside the budget of most pet owners.
- High protein diet might cause stomach issues for some in wild Indian summer or while doing an abrupt change from an inferior brand.
b)Arden Grange – While not as pricey as the above 2, these still can burn a hole in your pocket. However if budget is not an issue, you can well try this for your pooches, see if they like.
- Natural ingredients, human grade.
- Good nutritional value.
- Does not appreciate a sudden change from another diet.
c)Petcurean Now fresh – A comparatively new brand which has come to Indian shores, we have been hearing good things about it.
- They exert special mention on the freshness of their ingredients.
- Natural ingredients, no additives.
- Most dogs like the taste.
- Again quite pricey.
- Less availability in the market compared to other brands.
Update: This brand has been discontinued by the company.
d)Farmina N&D – While not as pricey as many brands, these still fetch a premium for an average Indian dog owner. One of the first brands to commercialize 100% grain free food in India.
- 100% grain free variants available.
- Packaging quality is fair.
- Most Dogs like the taste.
- Grain-free as well as low grain variants available.
- Stress is given on fruits and veggies like pomegranate, pumpkin, blueberry etc apart from meat.
- Some reports of dogs experiencing stomach issues while changing feed.
e)Taste of the wild – Newly launched in India in the premium price range. Only select stores across India are selling it as the price is high and the usual rule for retailers is to sell it at MRP. There is quite some demand for this food among premium dog owners who haven’t used it ever. However, from initial reviews, it seems some dogs are not eating the food. There is something about the taste that few dogs aren’t liking instantly. Will need more time to figure out exact results. If you are looking for my personal opinion, I think the premium is not justified. Doesn’t matter to me first if a food is healthy for dog or not, the first issue most dog owners including me face is if our dogs like the food. Then again appetite varies among dogs from time to time, so we will need more time to reach a conclusion – Is the taste of the wild really a taste pet dogs like? It remains to be seen.
As you can see, most of these super-premium brands are high protein complex, much like super-food for dogs. While its a boon in cold countries, in a tropical climate like India, you need to take some care while feeding these especially in summer. While making a change from a lower-grade brand or even home-made food, switch very slowly by mixing it to previous food.
There are many cheaper dog brands who claim huge protein percentage in their diet, claim to be filler or grain free, but in reality, they are far from that. However, all of these above brands do take special care in maintaining the quality of their ingredients and being mostly foreign brands, they are well surveyed by authorities.
While pricey does not mean good, these brands are tried and tested by many. Due to strict regulation in US and UK, these brands are tested from time to time by organizations like AAFCO.
2)Premium, value for money, choice of most :-
a)Royal Canin – 90% dog owners who want a premium food for their dog go for this. So much that it has become the benchmark while comparing other brands. However, many who can afford better are unaware they are brands better than Royal Canin. Although they are reasonably value for money, ingredients while not top-notch are good enough for an average pet owner. Also most dogs like the taste.
- Value for money.
- Wide availability in the market.
- Many variants to choose from.
- Ingredient quality fair.
- Good collection of veterinary diet.
- Lots of packaging issues.
- Be it distributor fault or bad packaging or handling, around 5% users report getting holes in packets or worms due to exposure to outside air regardless where they buy from.
- Over-hyped among many owners and breeders.
b)Hill’s science plan/ Prescription diet – While not as popular as rc, they have quite recently launched new variants of science plan which claim to have good taste and are getting decent reviews from pet owners. Hill’s prescription diet is much popular than most brands when it comes to veterinary diet. Hill’s food overall is known to be healthy, less tasty. So if your dog/ puppy accepts to eat it is the first thing to be seen.
- Affordable for a middle-class dog owner.
- Splendid collect of prescription diet.
- Many dogs who reportedly hated kibble in the past, like some of their variants.
- Science plan is not popular still, gaining popularity with increased outreach from Hill’s.
- Variants are kind of jumbled up in names and ingredient list, an issue for an informed dog owner to go for a particular one.
- Not many grain-free variants available.
c)Fidele – Not so popular, there have been both good and bad things told about this brand by dog owners. Unless, your dogs like the taste of this very much, I don’t see any reason to go over this over Royal canin or Hills in the same budget range.
- Decent ingredient quality.
- Mostly chicken-based, claims to give above average fresh chicken.
- Quite a value for money.
- Availability in local pet stores can be an issue.
- Very less percentage of dog owners use this even though they can afford.
d)Himalaya Dog food – Although not as expensive as the rest in this category, Himalaya dog food lives up to the expectations in terms of being healthy. Most himalaya products are value for money and this healthy pet food which has been recently launched by Himalaya in June 2019 is expected to be no different. So far we have had mixed reviews about this. Most dogs liked it, few dogs didn’t. Himalaya product will be healthy no doubt, taste of the dry food (if your dog likes) is the most important factor here.
- Himalaya products are known for their low price yet are very effective.
- Goodness of herbals along with chicken & rice.
- Expected to be better in quality than brands in the same price range
- Just launched 3 months back Will need more time to see final results and hear reviews from customers.
- Not grain-free. Can be a better alternative to other economy grade food like pedigree, no match for premium dry food like royal canin, farmina etc.
- Low palatability. While some dogs like the food, reports of many puppies and dogs not liking the food are appearing. They are eating it only when mixed with chicken or curd, which defeats the whole purpose of dry food. Acceptability ratio is low in terms of taste.
3)Economy grade, cheap, not recommended if you can afford better :-
a)Canine Creek/ Drools focus – Probably one of the first grain-free variants from an Indian brand(Drools Focus). Canine creek is also manufactured by the same company that owns drools ( Abis Exports).
- Much better than regular drools like drools nutrition, team breeder etc although manufactured by them.
- Surprisingly many dogs who hated regular drools seemed to like Canine creek and drools focus.
- Much better than brands mentioned below like pedigree, regular drools.
- Ingredient list or even the claim of grain free not verified by a competent authority like AAFCO or FSSAI.
- One of those dog food brands who will say any protein percentage and ingredients over their packet, not many sources to verify.
- I have had a bad experience with drools focus, once we had a ruptured packet which had just fallen from the topmost shelf in our shop and I gave it to a few street pups. They smelt it and went away. So who ate it? The crows.Then again, we have many customers who regularly buy focus and tell their dogs like it.
- Home-made food is better than this.
b)Pedigree, Eukanuba(pricey), Smart heart, Regular drools(Excepting drools focus), Dognjoy – Worse than canine creek or focus. No reason to feed these unless you are extremely short on budget or you have no time to make even something as simple as curd rice.
Eukanuba while pricey unlike the rest and from a renowned brand like Mars International, is not worth the cost. Also availability is scarce.
- Pedigree is the name most dogs owners know, yet it is one of the worst out there.
- Not grain free and filler free. Rather filled with cheap fillers.
- As their pricing suggests, it won’t be possible to give good ingredients other than fillers in this price range.These brands aren’t running at a loss, are they?
- It is quite likely your dog won’t touch the kibble if not mixed with wet dog food or home-made additives like chicken stalk
- If fed to puppy, growth won’t be good.
- Powerpack from smartheart has got relatively better reviews among economy grade food.
- An ideal choice for those running a shelter or short on budget.
- Pedigree is still the most popular dry food, many dog owners don’t know the name of any other brand.
- Regular drools is as good as(or as bad as) pedigree.
- No import duties on these as they are Indian brands. Smart heart being imported from Thailand sees less customs duty over US brands.
- Dognjoy claims to have MOS, mostly found in premium dry food.
There are plenty of other brands in economy range like cp classic, happy dogs which are below-average. We are not going to waste your time talking about them.
Many dog food brand reviews on the internet and elsewhere are biased, many are based on the margin given to the retailer or veterinarian.
This review is based on cumulative experience from multiple pet owners over years. It’s not like we have kept it limited to only brands we sell nor is there any commercial intent at praising a particular brand in this article.
Many brands like Blue Buffalo, Mera dog etc which we haven’t used ourselves yet in plenty or heard from dog owners much have not been considered while writing this review. They may be included in the future.
So based on your budget, you can make an informed decision in deciding your pet’s diet. Before going for a new brand, it is recommended to see if your dog likes it even though reviews may be good. Dogs are much like humans, they have their own choice too. Even though a brand may have good ingredients but if your dog doesn’t like the taste or odor, it will be of no use. So do not take reviews for granted and go for a 15kg bag in 1st go. Trial and error is the way to go for dogs who are fussy and hate kibble.
Dogs like labs, goldens can be picky and you have to leave half of the decision on them based on what impresses their mouth. But dogs like pugs and the likes who like and will eat anything and everything edible give you much freedom in making an informed decision yourself. Regardless you give them Orijen or pedigree, they will probably like both.
Home-made food+dry food can be an effective combination for many fussy dogs. I have seen countless dog owners whose pets show reluctance to eat dry food alone. They give boiled meat + dry food or curd + dry food or totally home-made food like chicken-rice which is healthy too. The problem with 100% home-food is that it becomes difficult at times to achieve a balanced diet with that. Hence, mixing home-made food with dry kibble is the best choice for many.
There are at times dogs and pups who do not want to eat dry food or any food be it orijen or any other brand. Even if they eat or are fed focrcibly, they intake very less amount,that too with reluctance. In those cases, we have seen absence of exercise to be the primary cause of the decreased/no appetite. If a high-energy dog say gsd stays indoor all day and night, you can’t blame him or the food brand you are feeding for not eating. For dogs, primary thing for good growth as well as nutrition is sufficient exercise, something that is hard to get for pet dogs in modern urban life. Dog like pugs who need very less exercise eat most food well however a high energy dog who is not taken out and exercised regularly, wont show proper growth or will to eat any food – dry or home-made. Many times in shop, we hear from cutomers ‘my dog is not eating this food of brand A, i want another brand’ or ‘my dog ate this in puppy age, not eating now’. For them we first suggest to increase exercise of dog by incorporating outdoor or indoor activities rather than trying something else. Switching from brand to brand or trying different recipes wont work if your dog is not pending sufficient energy every day.
Have you tried any other brand and got good results? Do let us know in the comments below.