I’m Wirecutter’s pets writer, and I’ve covered complex topics that require months of research, including for our guides to dog DNA tests, pet insurance, and pet subscription boxes. For years, I ran an independent pet food blog, so I have a bit of knowledge on this complicated subject. For this guide, I researched pet food manufacturers and read up on the regulatory power of the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). I sniffed out the positions on dog food types held by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Pet Food Institute, and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. I also considered independent reviews and research by the American Kennel Club, PetMD, Veterinary Partner, Whole Dog Journal, and the well-known Petfoodology blog of the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University1, among others. I interviewed Dr. José Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association; Dr. Danielle Bernal of Wellness Pet Food; Dr. Karen Fine, a holistic veterinarian at Central Animal Hospital in Leominster, Massachusetts; Parisa Fowles-Pazdro, founder of pet-supply store Maxbone; Dr. Darcia Kostiuk of Champion Petfoods; Rachel Beck, director of Veterinary Technician Programs at Banfield Pet Hospital; Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club; and Chris and Holly Reed, owners of Bayou, the Giant Schnauzer who won the 2021 AKC National Championship. Finally, I asked the manufacturers of 16 pet food brands, from big kibble to fresh startups, to spill the secrets on how they formulate their food, their quality-control processes, and their nutritional research.