If you’ve ever found yourself scratching your head while standing in the dog food section of your local pet store trying to figure out what the best food is for your dog, you’re not alone! The average dry dog food bag has over 50 ingredients on the ingredient panel, which can make choosing food for your dog a daunting task. Most of these have mysterious names like chicken by-product, dicalcium phosphate or menadione sodium bisulfite complex. Which leaves a lot of us wondering what exactly is in the dog food bag and how healthy is it for my dog?
If a manufacturer uses high quality ingredients at the top of the list, it’s a good indication of the remaining ingredients’ quality. “The First Five” is the best and easiest rule to follow when deciphering an ingredient panel. Ingredients are listed in descending order by pre-cooked weight, meaning that once you get past the first five ingredients, the percentages of the remaining ingredients drop dramatically. Look for specifically named meats, with names that you recognize like “Deboned Chicken”.
By providing your dog with commercially available dry dog foods, owners can be lulled into a false sense of security that your dog’s best health is being served. Cumulatively, consumption of highly processed foods and excess calories has led dogs to suffer from a variety of health problems having potentially irreversible consequences, including obesity, arthritis, periodontal disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Unfortunately for our pets, nearly all commercially available dog food is made with ingredients considered to be feed-grade instead of human-grade. Feed-grade ingredients are lower quality than human-grade. Additionally, feed-grade ingredients have allowances for toxins, such as mold-produced mycotoxins, that are acceptable in significantly reduced quantities in human-grade foods.
Poultry By-products sounds like it might be little bits of chicken meat that didn’t make into chicken nuggets. However, your idea of meat has to be stretched quite a bit if you want it to include chicken heads, feet and guts. When heads and feet make up a majority of your dog’s food day in and day out, you have to question whether that’s really in the best interest of your best friend?
Many Dog owners want their dogs to have healthy nutritional choices, but it can be difficult to obtain information about the nutritional value of different pet foods or on the environmental and social reputations of different pet food brands. Transparency about ingredients, ingredient sources, and processing methods beyond the minimum of what is legally required is generally difficult to come by in the pet food industry. Listed below are just a few things to look for when choosing the best food for your dog.
What to look for in a dry/wet food:
•Natural preservatives (Vitamin C/E) or no preservatives
•Made in the U.S.A.
Ingredients to avoid:
•Corn and wheat gluten
•BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
•BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
•Food Dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE)
•PG (Propylene Glycol)
Check for generic descriptions of an ingredient such as “Animal Fat.” Any mix of animals can be included, with variance from batch to batch. This is one reason why dogs may get sick on the same formula of food after long periods of time. While most of the ingredients may be the same, the fat just has to be from any animal.
Do your dog a favor, when you go home today check the ingredients on your dog food. If the ingredients include By-Products, or anything from the ingredients to avoid list above say goodbye. If the first 5 ingredients just cause question marks in your head, ask yourself why you should place your faith in that particular dog food.
Dogs will just about eat anything you put in front of them. However if you really love your dog, give them the best type of food so they can live a long and healthy life!