Here is some information on what you should look for when choosing a quality pet food for your dog.
First thing you should remember is that the pet food industry is a multi-billion dollar business that spends millions on advertising alone every year trying to convince you that their pet food is the best product.
It is your responsibility as a consumer and as a pet owner to do your homework and investigate what is the best food for your pet.
Choosing a quality pet food is not always easy and the wording on the pet food labels are often times misleading. Many of the ingredients and additives in these foods are the source of health problems in our pets. Mass retailers and grocery stores usually carry dog foods that contain cheap by-products with artificial coloring and flavorings. Most of these foods have ingredients that our pets were never meant to eat.
First look at the ingredient label and locate the first source of fat or oil. Anything listed before the first source of fat or oil, including it, are the main ingredients of the food.
Dogs have a carnivorous background and their digestive systems are designed to utilize primarily meat and fat. These products are also the most expensive to the manufacturer so be careful to read the label and identify the source of protein. Ideally, the first ingredient should be a specific source of meat for example: chicken, chicken meal, duck, duck meal, lamb, lamb meal and so on.
Meat meal as long as it is a specified form of meal such as chicken meal or lamb meal is fine (unless your dog has specific dietary needs) watch out for anything generic such as meat meal where it does not specify the source of the meat this could mean questionable sources are being used. Generically named sources are never present in truly high quality pet foods.
Animal by-products, try to avoid them especially if they are from an unidentified source. If you see animal, meat, or poultry by-products anywhere on the label, skip it. The only way it might be alright is if it is not a main ingredient and it is a specific source such as chicken by-products or beef by-products. By-products consist of anything BUT the quality cuts of meat or anything considered edible for human consumption. So, if you see a by-product of any sort named as a main ingredient, don’t buy it.
Any food that contains corn (corn gluten or corn gluten meal) or soy as a main ingredient should be avoided. Not all dogs tolerate soy products. Organic soy in small amounts is OK as long as your dog is not sensitive to it.
Another ingredient you should identify is fats and oils. Dogs need a certain amount of fats and oils in their diet, mostly for their skin and coat but they also need it for other critical processes in their body and brain development. So, look for high quality, specifically named sources of fat and oil on the label such as chicken fat or flaxseed oil and avoid anything generic such as animal fat, vegetable oil, or mineral oil.
As you can see by now the lists of things to look for, good and bad, go on and on so in brief please avoid the following ingredients:
Flavorings (unless it specifically named such as beef broth or chicken broth).
Onion, apple pomace, grape pomace, citrus pulp.
Preservatives and additives (high quality foods will use natural preservatives such as vitamin E, rosemary, sage, clove extract, Ascorbic acid and other forms of vitamin C).
Dyes, another unnecessary ingredient in pet food to make it look more appealing or an attempt to make a food look like it contains more meat by adding red dye. Avoid, Blue 2, Red 40 or other “numbered” dyes.
Sweeteners have no place in food that is eaten daily. Many dogs get addicted to sweeteners, which can aggravate health problems such as diabetes and ear infections. Unrefined sugar such as honey and molasses in small amounts in dog treats is OK as long as it is not their main source of nutrition.
Unspecified grain sources like cereal food fines or grain fermentation solubles.
Fragments like potato product, middlings/mids or mill run of any kind.
Corn bran, peanut hulls, rice hulls, soybean hulls, oat hulls.
Menadoine in any form (also listed as vitamin K3 or “vitamin K supplement”). Look for chelated or sequestered minerals (also labeled as chelates, proteinates, amino acid chelates or complexes, polysaccharide complexes).
The list goes on and on, so do your research. Visit a pet food store with a knowledgeable staff that can help inform you of what high-quality pet food products are out there. Remember, you won’t get that information from a grocery store or big name chain.
Listed below are a few of the quality foods available today:
- Blue Buffalo
- Nature’s Variety (Instinct)
- Taste of the Wild
- California Natural
- Eagle Pack
You can find these foods at the following retailers:
- Pet Saver Superstore (W. Ridge Rd., Greece, NY)
- Camp Bow Wow (Mushroom Blvd., Henrietta, NY) – Orijen and Nature’s Variety
- TLC (Alexander St., Rochester, NY)
- Bandit’s Bathhouse (W. Commercial St., E. Rochester)
- Petco (Blue Buffalo)
- PetSmart (Blue Buffalo)