This Article is About
dog food
pet food labels
quality dog food
vitamins and minerals
domestic dogs
nutritious diet
small quantities
balanced diet
food product
main ingredient
Bad Ingredients - Dog Food
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Bad Ingredients  -  Dog Food

I am very careful what I feed my family, but in the past I have not been as careful about what I feed the dog. Just like humans, a dog’s health will be influenced by what they eat. If they eat a good nutritious diet the chances are they will live a long, healthy and happy life. So how can owners tell a high quality dog food product from a bad one?

Domestic dogs rely on us to provide a diet which keeps them fit and healthy. Do you know what ingredients are in the dog food you use? Could you be feeding your pet a bad diet that in future years will take its toll on their health?

What all dogs need

All dogs need the following nutrients: water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet should include all of these with the largest constituents being proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The problem is that pet food labels can be difficult to understand, but if you focus on the list of ingredients, it can help decide whether to buy or not.

Tips on choosing a quality dog food

1. Check the main ingredient – the trick here is to look for the first source of fat. It may not be the first on the list. Everything above, and including that first source of fat make up the main ingredients of the food. Most of the other listed items will be small quantities of vitamins and minerals, preservatives and colourings.

2. Try and assess the quality of the ingredients being used. Do you recognise named items such as “chicken meat” or are more non-specific terms being used such as “meat by-products”.

3. Do your research before purchase. Use dog food forums, read manufacturers leaflets or go onto their websites to find out about their products.

4. Try out various brands. Manufacturers of high quality brands will often send out free samples so test them out on your dog before purchase.

Good and bad ingredients

Proteins – meat should be the main part of a dog’s diet and should be the first ingredient listed on the label. It’s the most expensive ingredient which is why low quality brands replace it with other less expensive products. Good food will specifically name the meat source e.g. “chicken meat”. Poor quality foods will have terms such as “meat by-products”, “meat meal” and “blood meal” to name but a few.

Fats and oils – dogs need some fats and oils to keep their skin and coats in good condition. Good foods will specifically name the source e.g. sunflower oil. Lower quality foods will use more ambiguous terms such as “animal fats”, “vegetable oil”, and “poultry fat”.

Carbohydrates – mainly come from grains such as wheat, oats, barley and corn. Vegetables such as potatoes and peas can also be a source of protein in dog foods. When properly cooked carbohydrates are a good source of energy. The trick here is to look for whole grains. Good quality food will refer to whole grain rice, oats, barley and potatoes. Poor quality food will use umbrella terms such as “cereals”.

Fibre – is the part of the carbohydrate that is not digested. It is there to make the diet work through the digestive tract. Look for ingredients like brown rice, oats, fruit and vegetables. Cheaper ingredients such as corn bran and anything described as a husk or a hull should be avoided.

Flavourings – high quality feeds do not include them. Poor quality foods use terms such as “meat broth”, “artificial flavourings” and “digests”.

Preservatives – high quality feeds will use natural preservatives such as rosemary and sage extracts plus Vitamins E and C. Avoid any food which lists BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin.

Sweeteners – are only really added to poor quality foods. Be warned, dogs can become addicted to sugars making it very hard to wean them off foods that contain them. Best avoid sugars, molasses, fructose and glucose.

Colourings – serve no value and should not be included in a dog’s diet. Avoid Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 5 and 6.

Fruit and vegetables – provide vitamins and minerals but are always best given fresh rather than processed. Low cost dog foods often include “citrus pulp” or “grape pomace”.

Supplements – are the vitamins and minerals such as zinc, copper. Avoid any food which includes synthetic Vitamin K (Menadione Sodium Bisulfite) which has been linked to serious health problems in dogs.

There are many brands of dog food out there making claims about how beneficial and nutritious they are. Very often they are just marketing ploys to persuade us to buy. They may not necessarily be true. Have you ever challenged a manufacturer’s claim about a brand of dog food? Neither have I, and that’s why we have to be sceptical about them. Add into this mix the woeful labelling on many dog food products, and is it any wonder that more and more dogs are suffering health problems related to the commercial foods we give them. Perhaps this also explains why so many owners are reverting to raw feeding or home-cooked foods.

I am no longer complacent about the dog food I buy. Some would say I am very particular. However, I have an overweight dog with a number of health issues. I buy the best quality diet food I can afford. Did I cause these problems by feeding him a poor diet? I don’t know, but these days I make more informed choices and put more effort into deciding which feeds I buy.


Street Talk

Good information Janice. I have done a bit of research on this topic myself, and I was shocked at the nasty things that are legal to put in pet food. Reading the ingredients is a must, and your article is a helpful guide when doing so. Thanks.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Glad the article was of some help Carrie. Your comments are much appreciated.

Reply
  about 5 years ago
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