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15 Things To Look For And Avoid In A Dog Food

As canine lovers, we naturally have our pup’s greatest well being interests at heart and assume anyone else within the animal business does as nicely.

Nevertheless, probably the most essential industries in relation to the health of your dog – the pet food business – typically falls extraordinarily brief in having an curiosity in Fido’s well being. In reality, most dog food brands include poisonous components and components that may be toxic to your dog.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive listing under so you’ll be able to discover what they’re, the best way to keep away from them, and what your greatest choices are in relation to high quality pet food.

Toxic Components

When you would assume pet food corporations would avoid adding toxic components to your pooch’s every day meal, it’s unlucky that the other is true. Corporations generally add unhealthy elements (and even downright toxic ones) to even probably the most innocent-looking kibble.

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• Garlic and onion

Garlic and onions are added to some pet food manufacturers as taste enhancers. Nevertheless, these bulbs are members of the shallot family, which along with leeks, scallions, chives, and shallots, may cause anemia in canine if consumed in small amounts over time.

• Food dyes

Chemical meals dyes like Pink Dye 40, or different shade names with numbers behind them, are widespread additions to pet food. Nevertheless, these meals dyes aren’t added for the good thing about your pup – they’re meant to entice the buyer. For occasion, if a brand claims a formulation consists of recent veggies, you’d naturally affiliate this with shades of green, not essentially burnt orange and brown kibble. So, with the assistance of a bit of green food dye, the “problem” is solved, proper? Not so much – these meals dyes have been proven to cause conduct issues very similar to ADHD in humans, akin to hyperactivity and inattentiveness.

• Wheat gluten

Wheat gluten is a protein found in wheat, which is usually added to pet food to enhance texture or reduce costs by reducing how a lot meat needs to be added to the meals. Unfortunately, canine are carnivores and will not be designed to eat grains. Moreover, research has proven that the majority grains within the US, together with wheat, are genetically modified and may cause intestinal irritation and autoimmune issues.

• Meat by-products

Meat by-products include organs and other tissues obtained from lifeless animals that aren’t used for human consumption. And while some corporations ethically source organs and other “leftover” elements of animal carcasses, most get hold of by-products from roadkill and even euthanized pets from animal shelters, which may include dangerous micro organism in addition to euthanasia chemical compounds that could be handed on to your pooch.

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• Corn and soy

Corn and soy are other common grain additives used to chop prices. Like wheat gluten, most are genetically modified and may cause digestive points and injury to the intestine lining (not to point out, canine are carnivores whose digestive tracts aren’t designed for heavy grain consumption).

• Carrageenan

Carrageenan is a thickener and stabilizer generally used in many meals (together with human foods) that has been proven to cause intestinal ulcerations, gastrointestinal inflammation, and even cancer in each human and animal studies.

• Sorbitol

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol molecule generally used as a man-made sweetener in human and animal foods. Although it is sugar-free, it has been proven to boost blood sugar in canine, which might result in hyperactivity.

• Xylitol

Xylitol is one other sugar alcohol added as a man-made sweetener to human and dog meals. It has been proven to trigger hypoglycemia in canine, in addition to acute, life-threatening liver disease.

• Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol (an ingredient also present in antifreeze) is a chemical found in processed foods in addition to beauty products. Propylene glycol is usually used to assist keep moisture in mixtures but has been proven in research to trigger skin irritation and kidney injury.

• Ethoxyquin (“Fish meal”)

Ethoxyquin (additionally listed as “fish meal,” though it’s a far cry from “fish”) is a chemical preservative used to stop fat in dog food from going rancid. Its uncomfortable side effects are so detrimental that it has formally been banned in the European Union; nevertheless, it’s still used within the U.S. Research exhibits it may well cause hemorrhage, liver injury, cancer, kidney injury, and thyroid injury.

• Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

BHA is another ingredient added to dog food to stop fats from going rancid. It is a artificial antioxidant that has proven in research to trigger cancer and gasoline its progress in rat stomachs and has been listed as a carcinogen (even to people) on California’s Prop 65 record.

• Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Like BHA, BHT is added to processed foods to stop fats from going rancid. Equally, it has been proven to cause cancer, and improve the incidence of pulmonary and pituitary tumors in mice, even at a low dosage.

• Rendered fats

Rendered fat is fats that’s obtained from animals. It is extremely arduous to hint the place it has been sourced from, however many corporations get hold of it from leftover meat by-products (slaughtered or roadkill animals) that may be contaminated with plastics, antibiotics, and even traces of sodium pentobarbital, the drug used to euthanize animals.

Look for:

• Natural moisturizers

Oils like coconut or olive oil hold pet food moist.

• Meat and greens as foremost elements

Meat and veggies must be the primary elements with a touch of herbs thrown in. Avoid grains or look for a “grain-free” line. A dash of brown rice and oatmeal which might be gluten-free are okay.

• No coloring added

Look for manufacturers that haven’t any coloring added and/or who use pure colour choices like beet juice or annatto.

• Herbs like rosemary, oregano, parsley, or basil

Rosemary, oregano, parsley, and basil are utterly pure and non-toxic to your pup, whereas additionally adding a flavor increase.

• Gluten-free

Look for strains that don’t include any gluten, wheat, barley, or different “flours,” especially in case your pup is sensitive to grains.

• Named meats

Look for meat sources which are named, akin to “chicken breast” or “turkey breast” as an alternative of obscure descriptions like “meat.”

• Brands with out carrageenan

Avoid brands with carrageenan or suspicious names you’ve by no means seen before (more on obscure phrases and descriptions under).

• Manufacturers with out synthetic sweeteners

Steer clear from recipes which have sorbitol, xylitol, or different artificial sweeteners.

• Quality oils and natural preservatives

It’s greatest to search for manufacturers that include oils that don’t simply oxidize (like coconut) so that they don’t have to add chemical preservatives. Additionally search for pure preservatives, like vitamin C and vitamin E, additionally referred to as “tocopherols.”

• Healthy fats

Look for wholesome fats from coconut, olive, or even avocado oils.

Mystery Elements (With Obscure Descriptions)

You’ll in all probability discover that many components in common dog brands are obscure. The vaugeness is intentional, because it provides the elements a “cleaner” feel and appear. Under are the most typical obscure words that could possibly be hiding one of the above toxic elements.


• “Meat”

Meat by-products could be listed beneath obscure names resembling “meat.” Since all meat from a carcass is considered “meat,” there isn’t any lawful concern with corporations utilizing the time period beneath the FDA.

• “Meal” or “Meat Meal” or “Bone Meal”

The American Association of Feed Control Officials, along side the FDA, permits something that’s labeled “meat meal” to be sourced “from mammals other than cattle, pigs, sheep, or goats without further description,” which suggests you haven’t any concept what it incorporates. Sadly, “meal” and “meat meal” are commonly sourced from deceased livestock and expired grocery meat.

• Corn meal

Corn meal might make you visualize floor corn, but remember that it’s also a grain, and most within the U.S. is genetically modified, as we talked about above in the poisonous components record.

Look for:

• Particular meat names

Look for particular named meats within the pet food, comparable to “Beef,” “Turkey,” “Chicken Breast,” or “Salmon.”

• Clear meat labels

Look for entire and transparent meat labels, comparable to “chicken breast” or “beef,” or even “chicken meal,” so that you at the very least have an inkling of what it accommodates.

• Entire components

Look for entire elements on the label consisting of named meats, veggies, fruits, and herbs.

Probably Dangerous Additives

Harmful components are just like the poisonous components listed above. Nevertheless, some can have more obscure names or labels.

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• “Natural flavor”

When you might assume “natural” taste is just that: a pure flavor from elements like veggies, spices, or meat, it’s most of the time an obscure additive. In response to the FDA, “natural flavor” refers to “…’digests,’ which are materials treated with heat, enzymes, and/or acids to form concentrated natural flavors.”

They go on to elucidate, “Only a small amount of a ‘chicken digest’ is needed to produce a ‘Chicken Flavored Cat Food,’ even though no actual chicken is added to the food.”

In different words, you don’t know what “natural flavor” consists of, or if it’s even natural in any respect.

Look for:

• Herbs or named flavors

It’s greatest to avoid any “natural flavoring” and look for herbs or “labeled” flavors, similar to “natural flavoring” from a spice mix.

Wet Foods with Gravy

The issue with wet dog meals “with gravy” or listed as “stews” isn’t essentially that additional water is dangerous on your pooch. Moist meals has more to do with product weight and nutrient density, as the FDA states that the moisture content material for pet food must not exceed 78 %. Nevertheless, a loophole exists where manufacturers can label their food a “stew,” “in sauce,” or “in gravy,” and exceed this amount, adding as much as 87.5 %.

What this implies is that you could be primarily be paying for more water in your dog food and fewer vitamins, because the water adds to the load and bulks up the food without maximizing protein and nutrient content. Aka: you might be paying more for less.


• Obscure wet meals labels

Avoid labels with “gravy,” “stew,” or “sauce.”

Look for:

• Protein as the primary ingredient

Search for dry food or “pate” which has a high ratio of protein, often as the primary ingredient.

Protein Content

Ideally, you need to ensure that the model of pet food you choose has an entire protein source listed as the first ingredient, adopted by high-quality components like veggies. Corporations typically apply “ingredient splitting” which splits up inferior elements (like floor corn and wheat flour). Ingredient splitting makes it appear as if there’s less of those inferior components than the protein that’s first listed.


• Plant proteins reminiscent of “pea,” “soy,” “corn,” or “potato” protein.

Plant proteins are sometimes used as cheaper options to greater high quality meat proteins, and contemplating many are grain-based and genetically modified, they might hurt your pup in the long term.

Look for:

• Entire meats

Be sure entire protein sources comparable to “chicken breast,” “lamb,” “salmon,” or “beef” are listed within the first three components followed by veggies.

Other Necessary Issues


In fact, with the ability to purchase an ideal pet food is necessary. Should you discover the dog food brands in your native grocery simply aren’t making the minimize, make sure to take a look at Amazon and even the producer’s web site of great pet food brands (like those listed under) – they can ship to you immediately.

Product Consistency

Some manufacturers supply various “tiers” of high quality  of their pet food strains. For occasion, their top-level choice could also be strictly high-quality meats and greens, while their lower-tier model might include some plant-based proteins. Corporations do that to succeed in dog house owners who can solely afford a certain worth; nevertheless, this will typically create confusion.

You could, for instance, go shopping and see a new “flavor” of the brand you’ve been shopping for a high-quality dog food from and determine to purchase it, while solely later realizing it was the same brand, however lower high quality meals. For this cause, we wish to search for consistency in quality across all of a brand’s merchandise.

No Components from China

The primary drawback with buying dog food with components from China is that they’re unregulated. China has no laws regulating the manufacture of pet food merchandise, so it’s a mystery as to what would truly be in the dog food. To prime it off, the FDA doesn’t inspect these imports in dog food either.

Study more about why buying dog food from China might harm your canine’s health.

Recall History

In fact, recall historical past is essential on the subject of gauging whether or not a model is reputable or not. Any brand can have a slip-up, but a number of recollects are a pink flag.

Examine for dog food recollects to remain up-to-date.

Allergic reactions

It’s extremely essential to know if your pooch has any allergic reactions once you’re purchasing for a food. Be proactive in getting your pet examined by your vet so you’re aware of his or her allergic reactions and sensitivities.


Value can also be an enormous think about buying a top quality meals; nevertheless, chances are you’ll end up saving in the long run by paying a bit extra for larger quality. For example, I switched my canine from 4health to Orijen Regional Pink and saved cash because I feed less of the Orijen than I did of the 4Health. Switching makes the fee per day cheaper by 35 cents, or roughly $126 per yr and provides up over her lifetime to be fairly a bit of money simply by switching to raised meals, despite the fact that the bag of Orijen costs twice as a lot.

Our Prime Dog Food Picks

1. Orijen (all varieties)


Orijen is likely one of the greatest and awarded pet food brands in the business. They concentrate on “biologically appropriate” food, which means avoiding plant proteins and grains. Orijen is made with 75 to 80 % meat, and all elements are native and regional. In line with Orijen, they use cage-free poultry, nest-laid eggs, ranch-raised meats, and wild-caught fish. Components are recent, passed safe to eat, and are preservative-free.

Learn extra about Orijen.

2. Fromm Basic


Fromm has been in business for 110 years (yep, they have been founded in 1904). Animal protein is all the time the number (and typically number two) ingredient, with a touch of brown rice and veggies thrown in. Fromm Basic is taken into account “simply balanced and complete” for puppies, adults, and mature adults.

Read extra about Fromm.

three. Fromm Gold


Fromm Gold can also be an excellent choice with the identical high-quality base as the basic, with age-specific choices and quality meats like duck and lamb, with a touch of hen cartilage for additional glucosamine for joints.

Read extra about Fromm.

4. Holistic Health Extensions


Holistic Health Extensions has organic hen is now the number one ingredient in their dog meals. They never use by-products, gluten, wheat, corn, soy, or any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and every product also incorporates fish oil, primrose oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, colostrum, blue-green algae, prebiotics, and probiotics for an additional natural nutrient increase.

Take a look at Holistic Well being Extensions.

5. Horizon


Horizon dog food sources their elements as regionally as potential from Canadian sources and manufactures their food at their  plant. They include no GMOs, progress hormones, steroids, by-products, synthetic flavors, or chemical preservatives. Additionally they state that their formulation are “meat dense.”

Read extra about Horizon.

In fact, there are different quality brands, but these are probably the most devoted we’ve found up to now. What about you? Do you have got any superb dog food manufacturers which have worked properly in your pooch? Let us know under!

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