Our experts collect information from product packaging, brand websites and directly from the manufacturer where possible.
Our algorithms were created in consultation with pet nutrition PhDs, food processing scientists and expert pet food formulators and provide an unbiased & methodical assessment food quality.
Our Key Metrics
1. Nutrition Score
Combines scores from ingredients, process, nutrient balance and brand reputation. The algorithms work as follows:
(Ingredients Score x Process Weighting) +/- Nutrient Balance +/- Brand
We rebase all scores to use the full range of 0 to 100. So a food that scores 1% doesn’t mean it scored 1 point. It means it was at the bottom of the scoring range.
2. Cost Per Day
Published prices make it very hard to compare real food costs. Each product comes in a huge variety of sizes and weights, from bags, cans, trays, rolls, to custom packaging. There is no standardization at all.
Additionally, price per weight is not a valid comparison because pets need a certain number of calories per day, not volume of food. And calorie density varies enormously by weight. Some foods have as little as 400 Kcal/Kg and others have as much as 5500 Kcal/Kg.
So the real comparison is the COST PER DAY to feed your pet. We do the math for you, based on your pet’s age, weight and activity levels, the caloric density of the food and the cost per calorie.
3. Value Score
Calculated from the nutritional score and the cost per day. It compares the overall nutritional value relative to the cost per day.
A high value score means the cost of the nutrition you are getting is low relative to other foods.
BUT it doesn’t mean it is a good food.
High value with low nutrition score means you are getting the best price for poor quality foods. High value with great nutrition means you are getting the best food at the best cost.
So the value score is a great indicator of whether you can get better value alternatives for any given nutrition level.
Price per item
Cost per day
We rank the core ingredients groups. Each ingredient has an individual assessment, and each group has a benefit ranking too. For example, meat based proteins are preferred to protein subsitutes. We also add a bonus for foods that we can confirm are human grade.
Petfood Ingredients are listed in order of weight before water is removed. We score each individual ingredient and give it a weighting based on its listing order.
We score based on the meat sources (deboned fresh, organ meats, whole carcass, un-named meats) and the quantity as a percenage of total
We categorize ingredients into carb groups. Complex, slow release carbs such as sweet potato and squash score highly whereas white rice less so.
Fats are the primary source of energy for dogs. Fats & oils derived from salmon, names fish score highly. Meat derived fats are lower quality and vegetable sourced fats and oils score lowly
Both soluble and insoluble fibres help mobility and digestion. Fibre sources from citrus fruits score best, followed by beets & vegetables and then plant fibres. All fibres add to nutritional benefit.
Cats and Dogs are primarily meat eaters. We look at protein sources from beef, meat meal, corn gluten, eggs, soybean, pea protein and other sources and estimate proportions.
Nutrition scoring - the details
We believe that the less processed and more “natural” that a food is, the better for the animal.
We create a weighting based on how food processes impact nutrients, vitamins and minerals and this weighting has a big impact on overall score
Kibble (Dry Food)
Kibble is highly processed as food is cooked at high temps (“extruded”) under high pressure which degrades nutrients. This food scores lowest on our algorithms.
The canned process itself isn’t problematic, but the gravy in most foods uses “gum” ingredients that are somewhat controversial. We score this as neutral in our algorithms.
Sterilization uses high pressure without requiring heat that creates a 100% sterilized outcome without exposing nutrients to heat, and scores well on our algorithms.
Dehydrating food is done with low heat over a long period of time that gently cooks the food while preserving nutrients. It scores very well on our algorithms.
This is an expensive process, but it preserves nutrients and minerals and even aromas and taste, while not cooking the food. It scores very highly on our algorithms.
This is the least processed of all the approaches as it takes fresh foods and freezes them. We score these very high, although its hard to transport and needs freezer space
If a food is labeled “complete and balanced”, it means that it provides your pet the right amounts (in the right proportions) of every single nutrient that your pet’s body needs.
A food that earns the complete and balanced label is designed to be fed as your dog’s sole diet, as determined by the Association of American Feed Control Official’s (AAFCO) Pet Food Nutrient Profile, or by passing a feeding trial using AAFCO procedures.
Where we have information we score brands based on ownership and control of their food processing, type of food processing facility, safety protocols, research and testing measures, ingredient sources, AAFCO nutrient compliance.
Where not available, we simply give a neutral score.
Donald has a 5 year old Vizla called Desi
Desi has been fed a Kibble formulation called Carnivora Coastal Blend Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food
Desi switched to Rigo’s Meal fresh raw diet combined with the Honest Kitchen premix of vegetables, fruits & grains