Healthiest Dog Food: Key Ingredients To Look For
Dog food has become one of the hottest topics of discussion among pet lovers everywhere. We all care about our dogs, some of us cherishing them like children, and making sure they have the best health possible is important to us. What makes a healthy food however, is a source of disagreement for even the most skilled pet owners.
While there are a lot of ingredients still up for debate, such as whether grain free dog food is a source of cardiomyopathy or a helpful way to eliminate allergies, these ingredients are not up for debate:
Avoid “meat” Or “animal” Products
This doesn’t mean your dog should be on a vegetarian kibble, but to check the label carefully to see what the source of the meat is. By law if the ingredient is a named animal, such as beef, pork, or chicken, it has to contain that ingredient. Not only does it have to contain that ingredient, it has to meet several important quality conditions, such as not being rotten and coming from clean parts of the animal.
If it says something like meat and bone meal or animal fat, it can come from anything, of any quality. That means roadkill, euthanized animals, and meat from 4D animals can all go into the product legally.
Not only can it go into the product, but evidence shows that it frequently does. Traces of the euthanasia drug pentobarbital has cropped up in grocery store brands of dog food fairly regularly over the years.
Say Yes To Meat At The Top Of The List
Our dogs are carnivores and they need meat to sustain a healthy body composition. It’s surprising how many dog foods don’t have meat at the top of the list of ingredients.
It’s important to look and see that a meat ingredient is first on the list on your dog food label. This ensures that a majority of the food is made up of that meat content and not other ingredients. Meat is important to our dogs to provide proper levels of protein for them to function and keep a healthy body mass. With all this however, they also need a mix of ingredients and a good serving of vegetables!
No matter how great a kibble is, its biggest flaw is the fact that it is dry. In nature, dogs get much of the moisture they need to survive from their food. Dry food itself is extremely unnatural, and may stress your dog’s kidneys without enough liquids to keep hydrated. Another problem that even if a company is trying to promote their kibble as ‘grain-free’ they still need a starch to bind the kibble with—pea and potato.
Canned food doesn’t need this, plus it is hydrating.
Grain Free Dog Food
For years, veterinarians, dog experts, and high-end dog food companies have been touting the benefits of eliminating grains from dog food. Dogs digest many grains very poorly, and can develop severe irritation in their feet, ear infections, and a yeasty smell from irritation caused by grain weevils lurking in the food.
Grain weevils are very toxic, and the grain going into dog food is usually of the poorest possible quality—since dog food is classified as animal feed, it doesn’t have to be something a human would eat.
While there is some debate on the subject, those promoting a grain free dog food support high-protein diets with little to no carbs because dogs are carnivores.
Unfortunately, a statistically significant number of dogs have been developing a disease called cardiomyopathy, and grain-free dog food is linked to it. At the moment it isn’t clear whether it is an actual lack of grains, or something the dog foods have in common, that is causing the issue. Many of the dog foods listed on the FDA list actually do contain grains in some of their lines, such as Fromm and Acana. Until more is known about what is causing this issue, it may be best to simply keep an eye on your pet and see how he does on a given brand.
Do your research and talk to your veterinarian before deciding on the best dog food for your pet. And don’t be afraid to switch from your current dog food if you don’t think it’s doing your pet any good! And don’t forget to supplement your dog’s diet with health supplements!