What’s in your pet food?

Take a glance at the ingredients in your dog’s food. It may be ingredients enough for your dog to survive but not to thrive. A doggie’s diet is tied to their long-term health, just like with humans. So in order to ensure that your pups continue to enjoy their lives, do some investigation into their commercial food.

Vegetables Or Meat For The Dog

For your dog to thrive stay away from these ingredients:

Corn, Soy, or Wheat: All are inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of no nutritional value to a dog – a.k.a. “empty calories”. They are very common allergens in dogs that may cause itching, inflammation and chewing of the paws. Because it’s cheap for the company and high in protein, it tends to be in dog food in high amounts. Your dog should be getting it’s protein from meat or whole grain sources (brown rice, barley, and oatmeal), rather than from processed grains.

By-Product: By-products are those unsavory leftovers usually considered “unfit for human consumption.” By-products are much less expensive and less digestible than the muscle meat. The ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients (heads, feet, bones, etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional value is also not consistent. Don’t forget that by-products consist of any parts of the animal OTHER than meat. These are the same ingredients used in fertilizer, industrial lubricants, soap, and rubber.

Animal digest: A cooked-down broth made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals. The animals used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.

Coloring Agents: (blue 2, red 40, titanium dioxide, yellow 5, yellow 6) They are unnecessary ingredients that commonly cause allergic reactions.

Preservatives: BHA, BHT, sodium nitrite and nitrate are examples of food preservatives that should be avoided. Preservatives are used in the production of pet food to limit the growth of bacteria or inhibit oxidation of food.  Many preservatives are known to be carcinogens (cancer-causing) in humans and pets and should be avoided. There are natural alternatives for preserving food, such as a mixture of varying forms of vitamin E called mixed tocopherols, rosemary extract and even the process of freeze-drying.

Food additives: Corn syrup, sugar, molasses, propylene glycol and MSG are examples of artificial flavors frequently used in pet food manufacturing to disguise inferior food quality and some of these additives give dampness and flexibility to semi-moist foods and treats.  These are often additional sources of “empty” or non-nutritious calories that contribute to pet obesity. If a pet food company is using high quality natural ingredients there will be no need to enhance the flavor of the food with these additives.


  • Ingredients are listed in order of weight BEFORE IT IS COOKED – the heaviest being at the beginning of list. So look carefully at the first three ingredients listed. Ideally, the first two ingredients should be sources of quality protein. You should not find a grain at number one or even number two.
  • Since ingredients are listed in order of weight before it is cooked you should take into account the water weight of the ingredient. E.g. If “lamb” is listed as the first ingredient – it is raw, uncooked lamb, containing 60-75% water. After cooking, the amount of “lamb” contained in the food may make it drop to the second or third ingredient.
  • Using “meals” (as long as it is a specified meal – e.g. lamb meal) is not a bad thing. A meal is dehydrated, ground meat. It contributes a more concentrated amount of animal protein to a product since it contains only about 10% moisture, making the food more species appropriate. Therefore, if e.g. “lamb meal” is listed as the first ingredient, you know that lamb is definitely the highest content in the food.

For more information visit:

www.dogfoodadvisor.com – Gives foods a 1 star to 5 star rating

www.dogfoodproject.com – Gives more information for each specific ingredient

We also have this blog post available in a hard copy in the store. If you’d like a copy just ask a Chew on This associate!!

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