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Tracie Hotchner

Professional Pet Expert

Canned Dog Food

Featured On:

  • Oprah Show
  • CNN
  • Martha Stewart
We are what we eat – a truism that only recently have we started applying to our pets. All of a sudden, dog lovers seem to be hyper-focused on what they are feeding their dogs. We all had such a scare from the pet food recall crisis only a year ago, when people discovered the lack of oversight over what can go into pet food and the fact (surprising to some?) that what drives the mainstream of the commercial pet food industry is an economic bottom line: how much inexpensive waste product can be jammed into cans and bags to ensure high profits while keeping pets alive? Of course the operative word here is “survive,” when what we really want for ourselves and our animals is to “thrive.”

We’re also learning more all the time about nutrition and the safety of ingredients and preparation in our own diets, and the trickle-down effect is that we’re learning to pay attention to what goes into our dogs’ mouth, too. There is a steady flow of fantastic new pet foods into the market, along with the some really good existing ones - but it’s a jungle out there, trying to separate the mediocre - from the merely good - to the really great foods you can find in a can. This ain’t your grandma’s world anymore, where dog food is concerned! Gone are the dark days of commercial dog food when there was one shelf in the supermarket that showcased canned foods containing horse meat (or no recognizable meat at all) and a variety of fool-the-eye-but-not-the-brain synthetic soft creations that looked like red hamburger patties or chunks of meat but were concocted from a series of chemicals, dyes and goodness-knows what other toxic waste. My book, “The Dog Bible,” shows you how you really need to learn to read a dog food label in order to make the best decisions for your dog and your lifestyle. But I’m going to make it a little easier for you right here by picking the Best of the Best – those foods that stand out in some particular way - keeping in mind that there are literally dozens of other high-quality foods that were contenders and in many ways every bit as good as these.

Special Mention – In a Class by Itself:

The Honest Kitchen: Although this raw, dehydrated food does not come in a can neither is it in any sense a dry dog food (which is traditionally kibble, which I’ll cover in another article soon). You turn any of the various Honest Kitchen dry mixes into a lovely porridge by adding water – and you can add additional protein or carbs of your own choosing. This food embodies so many of the attributes that matter in what we feed our pets: it is minimally processed (from raw meat sources, vegetables and fruit), from organic, human-grade ingredients processed in an American human food factory. What I like beyond that, is that using Honest Kitchen (as I do) as part of every dog’s meal, is that it encourages you to be an active participant in your dog’s diet, not relying solely on one food source and putting the responsibility for good nutrition squarely in your lap.

Best Canned Dog Food by Tracie Hotchner

The Best You Can Get

  • Halo

    Tracie says: Spot's Stew was the first food this company made 20 years ago, when it was unheard of to have a simple recipe that sounded like a human "chicken in the pot" – chicken and a bunch of vegetables. The whole idea of a dog food with recognizable ingredients was revolutionary at the time, but this company stayed the course and now finally the rest of the pet food world has caught up with them. Halo now has several other versions of Spot's Stew with different main protein ingredients. Their devoted following will undoubtedly now enlarge with Ellen Degeneres as part owner of the company.

  • Nature's Variety

    Tracie says: This company makes "Prairie" and "Instinct," which are grain-free foods, 95% meat, which come in a number of varieties, including unusual protein sources like duck, venison or rabbit which can be good for dogs with food allergies.

  • Newman's Own Organics

    Tracie says: The first dog food with an organic meat source, long before most people had ever thought of such a “kooky” idea! They are going stronger than ever and the bonus of buying it is that the company’s profits go to animal charities (following in the footsteps of their parent company which, in the spirit of full disclosure, my father started with Paul Newman). So your dog eats well and other animals ultimately benefit.



  • Weruva

    Tracie says: A new company, privately owned by a family that was in the human canned food business, which explains how this food is made of human-grade free-range antibiotic and hormone free chicken breast - in a human food factory. The very few ingredients are all clearly recognizable - without wheat or fillers of any kind. In case of emergency, this is the dog food I would pick to eat myself!



  • Evangers

    Tracie says: Along with very nice “pate style” foods, they also have some innovative products like whole chicken wings which are pressure cooked and edible along with their crumbly bones (such a treat!).

You will be happy with any of these

  • By Nature

    Tracie says: This good quality food comes in both an organic and “naturals” formulation. It is the most premium of the foods sold at Petsmart, which makes it highly valuable to those who would otherwise have no other access to high quality pet food.


  • Castor & Pollux Organix

    Tracie says: This high-quality food is carried by Petco, making it valuable because so many premium foods are not accessible to people outside urban areas.


  • Eagle Pack

    Tracie says: A variety of flavors from duck to beef, lamb, chicken, fish and liver. It has consistently been on the top ten list of the “Canine Foodies” (those who pay close attention to canine cuisine) because of consistent excellence.



  • Natura

    Tracie says: This company makes several brands – California Natural, Innova and Evo – each different in some way (Evo is 95% meat and California natural has a grain free variety) – but all dependably high quality.

  • Wellness

    Tracie says: Probably the most popular of all the premium foods, this company has a nice variety of ingredients and has just come out with a new line that is 95% meat. However, they have recently switched gears in marketing, and upset a lot of retailers: Wellness made their reputation by giving their product exclusively to small pet food stores with the promise of never selling to the big box stores. Now they’ve announced they are going into Petco and Petsmart. Whether this affects the ingredients or quality of their food remains to be seen.

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