Best WSAVA Approved Dog Food
WSAVA is the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. It’s comprised of researchers and veterinarians from around the World, all focused on a common goal of improving animal health. Being the best WSAVA Approved Dog Food should signal a gold standard, however, there is a lot of confusion on this topic.
WSAVA does not actually endorse, approve, or recommend any specific brand of dog food.
Anybody who tells you otherwise is full of beans.
However, WSAVA has published a helpful set of guidelines for pet owners to review when choosing foods. In following these guidelines, dog parents can be assured that they are choosing a quality diet that meets the highest standards of formulation, safety, and nutritional adequacy.
Understanding WSAVA Approved Dog Food
In understanding that the WSAVA doesn’t actually approve, endorse, or recommend any specific brand of pet food, it’s essential to grasp the organization’s role in helping pet parents choose foods.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association sets forth common sense guidelines and standards for pet food manufacturers to follow. These things include:
- Whether or not they employ a highly qualified nutritionist
- Manufacturing practices, including whether the food is produced by a co-packer or made by the company selling it
- Quality control, feeding trials and research, which indicate to pet owners that the brand is focused on nutritional health and consistency
These standards encompass nutritional balance, research, manufacturing, and safety protocols, ensuring that the food is suitable for pets and meets their specific dietary needs. Read the WSAVA guidelines for pet foods HERE.
Therefore, while the WSAVA itself does not pick favorites, its guidelines serve as a valuable reference point for pet owners to identify products that prioritize the health and well-being of their four-legged companions.
What are the WSAVA Approved Dog Foods?
As mentioned previously, no foods are actually approved or endorsed by WSAVA.
However, if we look at the guidelines objectively, it is pretty well established in the scientific community that 5 dog food brands undeniably meet or even exceed every WSAVA recommendation.
This means that these brands have highly qualified nutritionists on staff to formulate the diets, extensive quality control protocols, dedicated and thorough product testing in all stages of production, a database of feeding trails and published research, nutritional adaquecy statements, transparency, and owned facilities where the foods are manufactured.
Many other brands may come close to this standard. Some meet most of them at the basic level, and only a few brands exceed them.
Out of 1000’s of brands on the market, most actually fall short.
These five WSAVA compliant pet food brands that both meet and then exceed every recommendation outlined by the WSAVA include:
- Royal Canin
- Hill’s Science Diet
Brands who claim to be WSAVA approved or WSAVA compliant
Some brands will post pages on their website or social media indicating that they too “meet” or “comply with” WSAVA guidelines. This is quite problematic for two reasons:
a. WSAVA recommendations for pet food are interpretive; it is up to the pet owner to interpret and verify a companies adherance, and determine how important they consider each recommendation.
b. The companies creating pages like this are often doing so with the intent of being misleading.
For example, many of them do not actually employ a single nutritionist. However, because at one time they hired a consultant firm to look over a recipe, they may claim that they “work with a team of nutrition specialists and veterinarians“.
To most pet owners, that sounds great..and that’s exactly what dog food manufacturers want them to think.
Here is what WSAVA says about qualified nutritionists:
Is the recipe developed by an experienced pet food
formulator (MS or PhD in Animal Nutrition), a veterinarian,
or a pet owner/breeder/trainer?
- Recipe development is a complex process requiring
knowledge of nutrition, raw materials, and processing not
taught in veterinary school programs.
- Trained and experienced formulators may have a degree
(MS/PhD) in food science and technology to help guide
ingredient selection and nutrient levels for health or
- An individual with Board Certification by ACVN or ECVCN
may also be cross-trained in pet food formulation or work
in collaboration with experienced pet food formulators to
help guide ingredient selection and nutrient levels.
While WSAVA doesn’t come out and blatantly say it, this recommendation speaks to the importance of choosing a food brand that has at least one qualified nutritionist on staff, who is in charge of formulating the diets.
A qualified nutritionist would be:
- M.S. or PhD in Animal Nutrition
- Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist
Does WSAVA Approve Pet Foods?
WSAVA does not approve pet foods.
There is no list of ‘WSAVA Certified’ brands, because that’s not the role WSAVA plays in this.
It is up to you as the consumer to read the WSAVA recommendations and contact the company to see how they answer your questions.
A great resource for this is the Pet Nutrition Alliance! They’ve put together a pet food manufacturers report with legitimate facts about almost every company possible.
Who Funds WSAVA?
Dog food companies that are committed to the welfare and health of pets often contribute to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). These contributions come in the form of financial support, sponsorships, and partnerships to assist WSAVA in its mission to establish and maintain high standards for pet nutrition.
It’s important to note that WSAVA does not endorse specific brands or products, and its guidelines are created independently of the pet food manufacturers who contribute. However, the involvement of dog food companies in supporting WSAVA reflects a shared dedication to advancing the overall well-being of pets by promoting responsible pet nutrition practices.
The financial support provided by dog food companies to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is not inherently a conflict of interest, provided that the relationship is transparent and ethical.
It’s very important to note that ANY pet food manufacturer can contribute to science, research, and organizations like the WSAVA. Only a few do.
The benefits of WSAVA Compliant Dog Food
WSAVA compliant pet food offers a multitude of benefits for both pets and their owners. When you choose pet food that meets or exceeds WSAVA recommendations, you can be confident that you’re providing your pet with meal that meets the highest standards.
This is super important, given how much intentionally misleading and dangerous, unchecked marketing goes into pet foods! It’s hard to sort out what’s actually good, from what’s being sold to us.
The benefits of asking your pet food manufacturer to adhere to and exceed WSAVA guidelines include:
- Nutritional Excellence: this ensures that good pet food is formulated to meet the specific dietary needs of pets, providing balanced and complete nutrition. This means your pet is more likely to receive the essential nutrients necessary for their overall health, and that it’s been proven with comprehensive testing, research, and feeding trials.
- Safety Assurance: WSAVA compliant brands adhere to rigorous safety protocols, from ingredient sourcing to manufacturing processes. This can give pet owners peace of mind that the food they provide is safe for consumption.
- Health and Well-Being: Choosing WSAVA compliant food can contribute to your pet’s long-term health and well-being, helping to prevent diet-related health issues (such as nutritional DCM) and ensuring that your pet is thriving.
- Veterinarian Input: WSAVA’s guidelines are developed with the input of unbiased veterinary experts, so you can trust that the food is designed with your pet’s best interests in mind.
Basically put, we know that WSAVA compliant pet food brands are the absolute best you can choose. Why settle for anything less?
Guidelines for Choosing WSAVA Approved Dog Food
Determining whether a pet food meets WSAVA guidelines involves a careful review of several key factors. We recommend utilizing both a copy of the guidelines (HERE) and the Pet Nutrition Alliance Manufacturers report (HERE) to compare and contrast.
- Labeling: Start by examining the product’s label. WSAVA compliant pet food should clearly state that it meets AFFCO or FEDIEF nutritional guidelines, providing a complete and balanced diet suitable for your pet’s life stage and needs, and have nutritional information that is easy to find.
- Formulation: Does the company employ and utilize at least one highly qualified nutritionist? That’s a good sign that they are on the right track.
- Manufacturing Standards: Research the manufacturer and their practices. Is the food manufactured by a “partner facility” or “co-packer”, or does the company own and operate their own facilities? Do they have comprehensive testing and quality control protocols?
- Transparency: Reputable pet food companies often provide detailed information about their products, including the sources of ingredients and quality control measures. Transparency is a positive sign of compliance. If they make it difficult for you to obtain honest information about nutritional levels, manufacturing practices, or who formulates the food, run.
- Research: the best pet food companies will have ongoing dedication to science, research, and feeding trials.
- Consult with a Veterinarian: If in doubt, consult with a veterinarian. Veterinary professionals are well-versed in understanding WSAVA guidelines and can provide guidance on selecting compliant pet food.
Remember that while WSAVA sets the standards, it doesn’t specifically endorse or approve brands or products. However, evaluating pet food based on these criteria can help you make informed choices that align with WSAVA’s commitment to pet health and nutrition.
Want more information about how to choose the best food for your dog? Check out some of our popular articles below:
Our list of WSAVA compliant dog food brands for Great Danes
Here is our list of formulas that are both nutritionally correct for Great Danes, but also that exceed WSAVA guidelines:
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Large Breed (Salmon based, chicken free)
- Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Shredded Chicken & Rice (Large Pieces & Chicken Shreds!)
- Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Weight Management (Get the weight off)
- Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Bright Mind Age 7+ (for Senior Great Danes)
- Purina Pro Plan Giant Breed (Hard to find, my be discontinued)
- Royal Canin Giant Breed (Amazing for dogs with chronic loose stools, TOP TIER)
- Eukanuba Large Breed (Great for active and sport dogs)
- Purina One Smart Blend Large Breed (Fantastic budget-friendly option)
- Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Beef & Rice
- Purina Pro Plan 30/20 Sport Beef & Bison
- Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy – any flavor!
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Large Breed puppy – TOP PICK, salmon based
- Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy (Great for active and sporting dogs)
- Purina One Large Breed Puppy (Excellent budget option)
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed
- Royal Canin Giant Puppy Dry Dog food (to age 12 months) – TOP PICK, PREMIUM OPTION
- Royal Canin Giant Junior Dry Dog food (8-24 months)
Check out THE GIANT DOG FOOD PROJECT where you can compare brands and values head to head.