The Worst Dog Food Ingredients
These ingredients are the worst offenders – the cheapest, least nutritional and often unregulated. Pet food brands that primarily use these products care much more about margins than your pups health.
1. Animal digestAnimal digest is cooked-down broth made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals. Any kind of animal can be used , and the animals can come from any source. There is no control over quality or contamination.
2. By-products i.e. chicken by-products, beef by-productsWhen animals are slaughtered for food production, the best cuts of meat are used for human consumption. The rest of the animal carcass is often used in pet food and known in the industry as meat by-products or meal. According to PetMD, this includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, blood, bone, fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. This is a cheap way for pet food companies to keep the protein levels “high” while keeping food production costs low.
3. Added colors & dyesArtificial, humanly-contrived additives used to enhance the appearance of dog food and appeal to humans. Artificial colors and dyes add no nutritional value and instead are viewed as potentially harmful chemicals to both humans and animals.
4. BHA/BHTBHA and BHT are dangerous. They stand for butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene, respectively, and are chemical preservatives that have been linked to cancer, asthma and other ailments.
Taste Of The Wild Dog Food
Most Popular Pick: If youre looking a premium food dogs like Taste of the Wild is a very popular brand. Taste of the Wild uses real roasted meats in protein-rich formulas that are free from grains, fillers, and artificial additives. Their most popular recipe is the Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy formula which features real buffalo as the first ingredient with other proteins like bison, roasted venison, and beef to support strong muscles. This recipe also contains plenty of healthy fats as well as beneficial supplements like antioxidants from real fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, and dried fermentation products which act as probiotics for healthy digestion.
- Pros: Real roasted meats, rich in protein and healthy fat, grain-free, no fillers or artificial additives, mimics a dogs natural diet, supports skin and coat health, probiotics, chelated minerals
- Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to beef, contains some plant protein concentrates
Regulated Terms: Usda Fda And/or Aafco
This term is regulated and is signified with a USDA Organic Seal.
The United States Department of Agriculture Organic seal means that the pet food production and handling adhere to the requirements established by the USDAs National Organic Program for human food regulation.
Certified organic pet foods must be made of at least 95% organic ingredients, and the use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering is not permitted.1
There is no true definition for this in animal feed regulations, but according to AAFCO, for a pet food to be considered human-grade, every ingredient must be human edible and manufactured, packaged, and held in accordance with federal regulations.
Very few pet foods can meet this standard, so if you see human-grade on the label, you might want to call the company to ask about their manufacturing procedures .1
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Avoid Artificial Preservatives And Coloring
A lot of dog foods also have chemicals and preservatives in them that can do more harm than good. Some commonly used ones are Ethoxyquin, BHA and BHT. The National Institute of Health has found BHA and BHT to be carcinogenic, and Ethoxyquin is also suspected to be linked to health problems like immune deficiencies, kidney failure, and cancer. When looking at different dog foods, make sure none of these ingredients are included.
If your dog food has bright colors, it likely has some artificial coloring ingredients like Blue 2 or Red 40 or Yellow 5. Although the impact of these dyes hasnât been researched extensively for dogs, some experts warn that these dyes could cause problems like allergies, hyperactivity, and potentially even tumors. One thing is certain â they certainly arenât beneficial to your pup and your dog doesnât care what color their food is, so itâs best to err on the side of caution and avoid products that list these as ingredients.
Choosing The Best Dog Food
The best dog food for your dog is ultimately up to you to decide. As an owner, you are the one who sees your dog on a regular basis. If your dog produces firm, healthy stool, is active and fit, and has a healthy appetite, then your dog food is probably working just fine.
Your veterinarian is a valuable resource to you during this process. They know more about pet nutrition than the average owner, and they also have access to research and resources that owners do not have. Your vet can help you narrow down your options and should be more than happy to help you find the answers to your questions about your dogs food.
AKC is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to akc.org. If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale.
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How Much And When Should You Feed Your Dog
This will vary from dog to dog, but a general rule of thumb is for every 10 lbs your dog weighs they should be fed roughly 1 cup of prepared food.
For our 80 lb Hooch, that means 2 meals a day each containing 4 cups of food. It is important to note that, dogs with kidney problems often feel better when fed several small meals throughout the dayrather than just one or two large meals, so you may find that you need to adjust your feeding schedule as time goes on accordingly to keep your pup comfy!
Q: What Is The Difference Between Limited Ingredient And Grain Free Dog Food
L.I.D. is often grain-free, but not always. Likewise, regular dog food may or may not include grains. If you suspect or know what your dog is sensitive to grains, its not enough to just switch to L.I.D you need to read the ingredient list and make sure the recipe you intend to buy is free from any and all grains, including whole grains. This may come as a surprise, but grains are not the usual offenders when it comes to food allergies instead, beef, chicken, dairy and eggs are. In any case, whats important is to switch to a diet that is right for your dog, not one that should be healthy in theory.
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Why The First Five Ingredients Matter In Dog Food
Charmaine GriffinOctober 10, 2020
If youve ever walked down the dog food aisle of your local pet store, youve probably felt a little overwhelmed by all the beautiful packaging promising quality ingredients.
From cows grazing in fields, fish flying over beautiful rivers or an array of healthy vegetables everything looks great, but how do you know the ingredients match the marketing?
It may sound strange at first, but its actually important to read the back of your dogs food label.
According to the FDA, food ingredients are listed in order of weight. Ingredients that are highest in quantity are listed first, followed by the remaining ingredients listed in descending order.
This means if your dogs food claims to have tons of protein, but the first ingredient is a carbohydrate, its fair to question the claim.
Top Healthy Dog Food Picks
These brands are widely regarded as being some of the healthiest dog foods on the market today. Well detail the main features and highlights of each dog food brand, along with the pros and cons.
Remember, ultimately, the healthiest dog food will be the one that works best for your canine. There is no single healthiest dog food brand, as each individual dog reacts differently to different dog foods.
In researching these healthy dog foods, we found that even with dog food brands that had the best quality ingredients and highest endorsements, there were always some owners reporting that they dogs stomach got upset or skin reacted strangely. Every dog is different, and finding the best food for your dog will likely be a process of trial and error.
We suggest starting with this list of the healthiest dog foods available, and see which works best for your four-legged friend!
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Our Picks For Fresh Dog Food:
The phrase “you get what you pay for” holds true for dog food. Food made from organic, non-GMO, or human-grade ingredients comes with a premium price tag.
The good news is, it’s not necessary to go broke to feed your dog a great diet. If you’re looking to spend less, we’ve found high-quality dog foods that provide excellent nutrition at a lower price.
We don’t advise buying the cheapest food available to keep the price down, such foods contain lower-quality ingredients and more fillers. As with any diet, choose the appropriate food for your dog’s life stage and check for the AAFCO complete and balanced statement on the label.
Raw Meaty Bones And Other Animal Parts
Here is the trickiest component of homemade dog food. Raw meaty bones refer to a specific type of animal bone that is for eating, not just for chewing . RMBs are fed to dogs unprocessed, with muscle meat and tendons still adhered. They arent dried and therefore are not brittle, and usually are big enough not to be swallowed whole. Raw meaty bones are an essential source of calcium for dogs if for whatever reason your dog cant handle RMBs, alternatives like ground bones, or ground eggshells, in their food can supply the calcium.
Organ meats like liver, kidney, hearts, and necks are required for home-fed dogs as well. For raw-fed dogs, organs should make up about 10% of their overall diet, which may be a challenge for some dog guardians. Offal meats contain all the rich vitamins and minerals that make your dog glow, but since they arent widely eaten , they arent widely available.
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What Does ‘meat Meal’ Mean
You may see that a bag of dog food contains the ingredients ‘meat meal’, ‘chicken meal’, or ‘fish meal’. It sounds off-putting and makes you think of ground heads, bones and feet, right? Well, meal simply refers to the fact that the protein source has been dried and heat-treated, then ground to a powder. Dont worry, meat meal isnt allowed to include things like hair, bristles, or stomach contents.
Pet food manufacturers may use meal because its cheaper to ship. On a large scale, its also homogenous one cup of it is likely to contain very similar nutrients to the next. This helps manufacturers to create a consistent product, rather than having their nutrition thrown off by the differing fat content in breast meat compared to thigh meat.
The Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Calorie content: 3,495 kcal/kg, 364 kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 20%
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
Formulated to minimize food sensitivities and maximize the nutritional value, the Blue Buffalo limited ingredient dog food is a fantastic choice for canines struggling with food allergies, intolerances and poor digestion. The main protein source is real turkey while the rest of the ingredients include healthy fats and easily digestible carbohydrates.
Turkey, oatmeal, brown rice, peas, flaxseed, alfalfa, blueberries, cranberries and a few other highly nutritious ingredients are included in this recipe. Although packed with healthy foods, the formula is still quite simple as it doesnt contain hard-to-digest grains or other carbohydrate sources. There are added vitamins and minerals too, as well as Glucosamine to support healthy joint function.
Calorie content: 3,340 kcal/kg or 394 kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 26%
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
With Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate
First three ingredients: salmon, salmon meal, potatoes
Fish and a few easily digestible carbohydrate sources make for a nutritious, hypoallergenic dog food that supports healthy weight. Wellness Simple is a limited ingredient diet dog food that nourishes the health of sensitive canines without irritating their digestion.
Calorie content: 3,300 kcal/kg, 409 kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 28%
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
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Why Feed A Limited Ingredient Diet
If your pet suffers from various allergies or has very dry, itchy skin and skin rashes, its time to think about the diet youre feeding him. Even though the food you feed him may be healthy, it doesnt mean its right for him. For one reason or another, some dogs will develop an intolerance or even an allergy to a food or ingredient they once ate with no issues. Its not exactly known why this happens, but what is clear is that the problem is multi-factorial. This means that there can be a genetic predisposition, but also that the environment can affect/trigger the underlying issue as well.
Whatever the cause, if your dog becomes allergic to a certain food or even several different ingredients, its best to talk with your veterinarian and go on an elimination diet. Ultimately, when your vet discovers what food is causing the issue, an L.I.D. dog food should be able to help nourish your pets health without triggering his food intolerances/allergies.
Best Dry Senior Dog Food
Senior diets are intended for the unique needs of older dogs. “Senior diets are formulated to target some of the common ailments of older pets, such as joint health, digestive health, immune health, and possibly others,” says Swanson.
These diets may contain higher amounts of protein, higher quality protein to maintain muscle, fiber to aid in fecal elimination, additional antioxidants to limit oxidative stress and aid in immune response, and additional omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive performance.
Since older dogs are often less active, these diets typically contain fewer calories. Some foods are also lower in protein, but contrary to popular belief, healthy senior dogs may actually benefit from more protein than younger adult dogs. If your dog does not have health conditions, look for a senior diet that is lower in fat and calories and contains extra protein the AAFCO minimum protein for adult dogs is 18%.
Our picks for senior dog food are high in protein and include healthy extras to support an aging dog’s health.
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Best For Seniors: Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Bright Mind
Just like puppies need a diet that promotes their growth and development, senior dogs can benefit from a diet that supports their bodies and minds as they age. The Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Bright Mind Chicken and Rice Formula is a dry food designed specifically to promote alertness and mental sharpness in older dogs.
This food contains a proprietary blend of brain-supporting nutrients, including DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, B vitamins, and arginine. It also includes glucosamine, which is great for promoting joint health and mobility in senior dogs.
Chicken is the first ingredient in the Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind dry dog food, followed by poultry by-product meal, rice, and whole-grain corn. This Purina recipe also includes probiotics for digestive health, as well as vitamin A and omega-6 fatty acids that nourish the skin and coat.
And, though this is the standard Bright Mind formula, Purina does offer this senior dog food in other varieties, including wet food, large breed formula, and small breed formula.
Key Benefits Of Feeding A Dog Food With Limited Ingredients
- Eliminates potential allergens Dogs aren’t that similar to humans when it comes to food allergies. Whilst we would generally be sick or at least have an upset stomach, dogs are more prone to having itchy skin. This makes it difficult to identify when your dog is allergic to an ingredient. By going with a limited ingredient diet you can help prevent the likelihood of this occurring.
- Helps you narrow down an allergy If you believe your dog has an allergy, you can help to identify what ingredient is causing it by switching to a limited ingredient formula. If the allergy persists, you will know that it’s one of the few ingredients in the recipe that’s to blame. You can then take steps to remove the identified ingredient from your dog’s diet.
- Rotating diet Dog’s like variety, and occasionally switching to a new formula of dog food will likely improve their mood. Why not occasionally switch to a formula that can be used to isolate potential allergies?
- Helps digestion By removing filler ingredients, limited ingredient dog food aids digestion. These formulas are typically grain-free and use carbohydrates that dogs can more easily digest.
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Best For Puppies: Wellness Complete Health Puppy
The Complete Health Puppy dry food from Wellness offers a balance of nutrients to support your puppys growth and development during this crucial life stage. This food starts with deboned chicken as its first ingredient and follows with chicken meal, oatmeal, ground barley, and peas.
Wellnesss Complete Health Puppy food also includes salmon, salmon oil, and tomatoes. Salmon is a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids salmon oil is a natural source of DHA, which supports brain and eye development and tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C.
In addition to these ingredients, this puppy food provides calcium and phosphorus for bone growth, vitamin A and calcium for healthy teeth and eyes, and other omega fatty acids for healthy skin and a clean coat.
Plus, if you want to keep your puppy eating the same dog food brand as they grow older, Wellness offers a variety of options for adult dogs, including grain-free options, large breed options, small breed options, and more.