First, let’s discuss what we’re looking for when buying a dog or puppy food bag.
We want a diet that will promote a healthy coat, shiny eyes, and a well-behaved dog. We want to feed our pets foods made from quality ingredients that are good for them. We don’t want to feed our pets fillers and artificial ingredients that may cause them harm in the long run.
The best way to go about this is to look at the labels on the bags of food you are considering buying for your pet. There are some things you can look for on those labels that will help you decide if this is the right food for your dog or puppy:
Grain Free: Grain is often used as a filler in dog food, so be sure to check if it’s grain free before buying it. If there is any grain listed, then it’s not grain free!
Organic: Organic foods contain no GMOs (genetically modified organisms). This means they are free of pesticides and herbicides, which can harm your pet’s health if ingested regularly over time.
One of the most common issues we hear about is that people are unaware that dogs should not be eating certain things– some of which are common ingredients in lower-quality dog foods. These are things like corn, soy, wheat, or by-products. These ingredients have been known to give many dogs serious stomach ailments and don’t offer any nutritional benefit for your beloved pet.
As a consumer, knowing what products are good or bad for your dog can be challenging because there is so much conflicting information about pet food. So much so that we have even seen a rise in companies that claim to sell “organic” foods for our furry friends…but it’s just more expensive junk food!
So how do you know what’s best?
What I always recommend is taking a look at the ingredient list on the back of any product you’re thinking about buying. Try to find something with real meat as its main ingredient (not by-product), with minimal fillers and preservatives (such as corn), as well as grains like rice or wheat (they don’t need these).
It would be best to look at the label first to know what’s in your dog’s food. As you know, the ingredients that are listed first are the ones that make up the majority of the food’s content. So if the first ingredient listed is a chicken by-product, that’s not good.
The first ingredient should be meat or meat meal. Chicken meal is better than just chicken because it has more concentrated protein and fewer calories. However, any meal is better than by-products because they are considered “unfit for human consumption” (i.e., they come from parts of an animal that humans would typically not eat).
Next, look at the fat content of your dog’s food. Ideally, it shouldn’t exceed 10% on an “as-fed” basis (the amount of food given to your dog minus its moisture content). If it does exceed 10%, then you need to consider switching foods or adding some extra healthy fats like olive oil or salmon oil.
You need to look at the ingredients to know what’s in your dog’s food. The first 5-6 ingredients are the main ingredients in the food and will make up the bulk of your dog’s diet.
The first 2 or 3 ingredients are usually good quality meat products, like chicken or lamb. It can get a little murky after those 2 or 3 meat products.
For example, let’s say you see chicken listed as the first ingredient in your bag of dog food. That sounds great, right? Let us tell you what else is there: water, corn gluten meal, and soybean meal. Those three things are not considered quality ingredients and should be avoided.
Let’s look at an example. Take ALPO Prime Cuts Dog Food, for instance. Looking at the ingredients listed here, you can see that this food wouldn’t be ranked as high quality. The first few ingredients include ground yellow corn (not good), beef and bone meal (not good), soybean meal (not good), and digestion of chicken by-products.
The first ingredient is ground yellow corn. Ground yellow corn is a byproduct of milling whole-grain corn into flour or meal. It contains more than just protein; it also contains carbohydrates and fiber. While these are all great things to have in your dog food, they don’t belong at the top of the list!
The second ingredient is beef and bone meal, another byproduct of milling whole cattle bones into flour or meal. This product contains primarily protein but also fat and calcium. Because it’s so high in protein, it must be used sparingly in dog foods. Too much protein can upset your canine’s digestive system and cause diarrhea or constipation.
The third ingredient is soybean meal, another byproduct of milling whole soybeans into flour or meal. This product contains primarily protein but also fat.
Now look at Innova EVO Small Bites. This food is comprised of: turkey, chicken, turkey meal, chicken meal, potatoes, herring meal and so on. The difference is clear.
The first ingredient in this food is turkey. This means that it contains a majority of turkey meat. Chicken meal is another meat protein source, but it is much less desirable than turkey because its quality is not as good as that of turkey meat. Turkey meal has a better amino acid profile than a chicken meal. Fish meal also provides protein and helps create a more balanced diet for your dog, but again it’s not as high quality as the two meats mentioned above.
This food also contains potatoes which provide a little carbohydrates along with some fiber; however they do not provide any real benefit to your dog’s diet because they are not digestible by dogs.
The remaining ingredients are grains or starches such as oatmeal or barley which are all very low quality sources of nutrients compared to actual meats such as those listed above.