How to analyse dog food ingredients

To give your dog, or any pet for that matter, a good foundation for a healthy life it is essential to start with proper nutrtion. There are many really horrible, low quality, chemical laden dog foods on the market still today, even though we have become more aware and educated about what to look for when purchasing dog food. Cheaper dog food brands are generally sold at your local grocery store, whereas the higher quality premium dog food brands are found in pet stores, or online at specialty pet stores.

Increasing your dog’s life span is easily achieved by feeding a properly balanced healthy organic dog food or high premium diet from puppy hood. An all natural healthy diet is as beneficial for your dog as it is for yourself. Improper or poor nutrition can cause diseases, allergies, obesity, and shortened life spans in your dogs.

There are many commercial grade dog food products available at the grocery store, and care must be taken when choosing one. Becoming more diligent in all facets of our lives is quickly becoming the norm, and we should include our pets in our education and improvement of lifestyle.

Here are a few general guidelines to follow when looking at the ingredients on a dog food bag:

Choose a food with high meat content. The first ingredient must be a specified meat. Another one or two meats or meat meal listed in the top 5 ingredients is a bonus, but not necessary. (Meat meal is meat with the moisture removed.)

If the same grain ingredient is used two or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. “ground brown rice”, brewer’s rice”, “rice flour”, are all the same grain), this is not a well balanced, nutritious product. It is loaded with “filler” and made to look like it is healthy by separating the one ingredient into sub categories, but rice is rice so it should be listed once.

Using high quality grains has become the standard for the premium quality dog food manufacturers, such as barley, brown rice and oatmeal. If the grains are organic, then all the better. Wheat and corn are inferior and useless as a nutritional element in dog food, and used as filler only. Also wheat and corn are both know to cause allergies in dogs.

If there are any by-products at all on the ingredient list, pass this dog food by.

There should not be any fillers.

Carcinogenic preservatives do not need to be used, and if they are don’t buy the product. (They will be listed as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin.)

Artificial colorings are also cancer causing, and completely unnecessary. You’ll be surprised to see how many products still contain this dangerous ingredient. The dyes will be marked as such – e.g. Red, Blue and Yellow dyes.

No added sugars or corn syrup should be in the ingredient list.

The more organic ingredients listed, the better.

Added glucosamine, chondroitin, pro and prebiotics, flax seed oil, barley, oats or oatmeal, and sunflower oil, are a good thing.

Slowly baked, not extruded, retains the minerals, vitamins and essential goodness of the food.

Hormone free, antibiotic free, pesticide and herbicide free, chemical and preservative free would indicate a high quality premium organic dog food.

And finally, no mystery meats should be in the list. Mystery meat will be listed as simply meat or poultry, rather than chicken or venison. The mystery meat will probably be some horrible rotten road kill, old euthanized animals, and parts of animals that are not edible.

Although the higher quality food might seem more expensive initially, it will work itself out and become cheaper in the long run. The savings in vet bills alone over the life of your pet will pay for the food.

I use a lazy homemade dog food tactic of using a high end organic dog food, and add just a few ounces of poached chicken, or broiled venison every day. The best of both worlds is then achieved for my dogs.

Always be aware, educate yourself and know that the big business of dog food manufacturing is in it for the profit, not the health and welfare of our pets. That is up to us. Just do the absolute best you can for your pet and it will be returned with more doggie love, which is never a bad thing.