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Reading Your Dog Food Ingredient Label: What You Should Look For and What You Should Avoid

 by wai on 22 Jan 2014 |
4 Comment(s)

When it comes to feeding your dog, you have a lot of options to choose from.  You know that table scraps won't provide the nutrition your pup needs, but you may not realize that certain dog foods can actually contain potentially harmful ingredients as well.  Even the pricier, organic brands may not be all they're cracked up to be.  If you're confused about what should and shouldn't be in your pet's food, understanding a few simple guidelines can help you make a choice that will be both nourishing and tasty for your dog.  Let's take a look at what you should look for and what you should avoid when purchasing dog food:

1.    Make sure a specific meat is at the top of the list. 

When you're reading the label, meat should be the first ingredient listed.  This means that there's more meat in your dog's food than anything else.  However, it's important for the label to list a specific type of meat.  A lean meat like chicken is best, especially if your dog has weight issues.  While beef may not be quite as healthy, it's still an acceptable protein option as well.  On the other hand, you'll want to stay away from dog foods that just list something generic like "meat meal" or "animal byproduct meal."  This can include anything from horse meat to pig hooves and everything in between.  Stick with basic "chicken" or "beef" so you know exactly what's in that bag you'll be pouring or scooping from daily.

2.    Be wary of certain fillers. 

Most dog foods are going to contain at least a few grains.  However, you don't want those grains to be too high on the ingredient list.  Many manufacturers skimp on the meat and instead use high levels of fillers like corn meal, oatmeal, rice and soybean meal.  High levels of these ingredients can cause allergic reactions in some dogs.  They can also be a bit difficult for their digestive systems to process, particularly for pups with tender tummies.  Don't be fooled by popular brands that proudly tout organic ingredients.  Just because they use organic fillers doesn't necessarily mean those are the foods your dog should be eating.  Choose a primarily meat-based brand with ingredients like chicken and chicken meal listed first.  Anything else will mean too many carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain and sluggishness in your dog.


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3.    Keep things simple. 

When it comes to your dog's food, simplicity is key.  It's best to avoid dog food that uses artificial colors, flavors or other additives.  Those brightly-colored bits and pieces may look appetizing, but there's no point in giving your dog something artificial if you don't have to.  Dogs don't perceive colors as vividly as we do, so those bright hues are really there for your benefit anyway.  You should also examine the ingredient list carefully to be sure that it doesn't include any kind of sweetener, whether it's real or artificial.  Things like sugar, corn syrup, molasses or brown rice syrup have no place in your pet's food.  In addition, steer clear of ingredients like butylated hydroxysanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene.  The bag will typically list these as BHA and BHG.  They've actually been banned in some countries because they've been linked to cancer in some pets.  Other preservatives like ethoxyquin and propylene glycol should also be avoided.  The former has been used in pesticides while the latter is related to antifreeze.  Bottom line, if you can't pronounce it, it probably shouldn't be in your pet's food.  Go with a brand that only has ingredients you can easily identify.

You probably consider your dog an important part of your family.  If you want your pup to stick around for many years to come, you need to make sure he or she is getting the nutritional benefits his or her body requires.  Selecting the right dog food will help you do that.  By following the guidelines on this list, you can make sure Fido's food has all the proper nutrients he or she needs and none of that potentially harmful fake stuff.  Remember to read the ingredient label carefully so your dog can stay healthy and live a long, happy life!


jim - Comment
jim23 Jan 2014Reply
Thanks very helpful.
Margaret Mantooth - Comment
Margaret Mantooth23 Jan 2014Reply
Do you have a similar post for cats?
Coral Jane - Comment
Coral Jane23 Jan 2014Reply
Pawsome, thanks :)
Admin - Comment
Admin06 Feb 2014Reply
@Margaret - It is good idea. We will research this for cats too. But cats are usually fussy eaters, I don't think they would eat something they shouldn't at the first place :)

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