Raising a healthy pup isn’t too complicated. They require exercise, access to cool water, fresh air and the food they eat is vitally important to their overall health. Many dogs that are lethargic or just seem “off” can see considerable improvement when they’re shifted to a better diet formulated with quality foods that are healthy and nutrient-rich.
Understand the Labels
An important point when reviewing dog food is to understand commercial brands are comprised mainly of “feed-grade ingredients.” These are foods that are not approved for human consumption and are therefore held to lower standards in terms of quality and content. For example, the “meat meal” in dog food can contain deceased animals from various sources and facilities. They might also include fats and grease as well as food waste. There’s not much regulation for these sources, and there are allowances for
the food to contain toxins and other chemical agents that would never be allowed in human food.
When reviewing dog food labels, the wording matters. Here are some things to consider when reviewing dog food labels:
- When a product says “chicken dog food”, it must contain 95 percent chicken, according to regulations.
- If the product uses the word “salmon dinner,” “beef platter,” or “lamb entrée” then it’s different. The product then needs to have just 25 percent of the named ingredient as a proportion. The accompanying words are important, and let you know the food doesn’t include a huge percentage of the stated meat or veggie.
- The “with” rule means if a package says “Pup Dinner with Tasty Beef”, the actual beef only needs to be three percent of the total. Dog food packaging is quite regulated in terms of wording, so that single “with” can dramatically change the actual contents.
Here are some ingredients to avoid:
- Food dyes such as Blue 2, Red 40 and Yellow 5 (dogs are color-blind so coloring is only a marketing tool for pet owners)
- Preservatives such as BHA and BHT and Ethoxyquin that are added to oils in order to keep them from decaying. BHT is a carcinogen and proven to cause liver problems in some animals.
- Any other known toxins.
Essentially if you can read it and know what it is, that is a good sign. It is important to look for more natural ingredients.
Finding a quality dog food requires an understanding of the labeling and placing your trust in an ethical pet-focused company. Look for foods that use:
- Natural preservatives such as Vitamin C or E.
- Made and sourced in the USA ingredients, which are less likely to contain toxins.
- Wording that means meats and veggies are the primary ingredients – avoid the dreaded “with” phrasing.
Feeding your pups quality ingredients is essential for their ability to enjoy happy and productive lives.