Dog food used to come in one of only a few options, and they weren’t exactly the healthiest options (to put it mildly). However, the dog food industry has evolved since those early days and now offers countless health-focused products.
Gluten-free, soy-free, all-natural products are all the rage in the pet world right now. The question isn’t whether or not these products are healthy, the question is whether or not they’re the right choice for your dog.
Society has become much more health-focused over the past few decades, but does this same level of focus towards being healthy also apply to our dogs? How many people do you know who avoid certain types of foods (e.g. gluten, wheat, soy, etc.)? What types of ingredients should your dog avoid? Which ingredients are important for their nutrition?
Below we cover everything you’d ever want to know about dog food ingredients; optimal macronutrient levels, ingredients to avoid, and which ingredients are the most beneficial for your furry little pup.
Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food
The US has a certain level of requirements that dog foods must meet in order to be sold to the general public. While these requirements are stringent in some ways, in a lot of ways they are not. For example, the majority of dog foods produced in the US are allowed to contain numerous “feed-grade” ingredients, filler products, and preservatives, all of which aren’t exactly optimal for your pet’s health.
When you’re looking for dog food to purchase for your pet, you should do your best to avoid brands that use preservatives. Specifically, the following chemicals/preservatives should be avoided (if possible):
These preservatives can be incredibly toxic to your dog’s body and are typically added to fat ingredients in certain dog foods/treats. This is why it’s very important to look for a dog food product that’s labeled as “preservative-free.” Otherwise, you run the risk of feeding your beloved pet some very nasty chemicals (which can lead to a myriad of health issues down the road). Remember, that not all dog food labels will list the specific preservatives they use (because who would knowingly purchase a dog food filled with chemicals, right?) – so always try to find a product that’s appropriately labeled (and explicitly says that it’s free from preservatives).
Avoid: Colored Dyes and Rendered Products
Food coloring really has no purpose in dog food. If you’re purchasing a food or treat product that has dye in its list of ingredients, you’re putting your dog at risk to develop various health issues. Certain types of food coloring agents have been linked to numerous illnesses in humans, so it should go without saying that they also shouldn’t be consumed by dogs.
Rendered products typically come in the form of rendered fats. Why is this ingredient bad for your dog? These rendered fat ingredients are the perfect breeding ground for harmful organisms that can cause numerous illnesses, and they’ve also been found to contain harmful levels of toxic metals.
The Good: Which Ingredients Are Healthy
In order to live a full, healthy, and illness-free life, your dog needs to be eating a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet. The best way to provide this diet to your dog is by purchasing a dog food that’s made of naturally sourced, quality ingredients that are scientifically backed.
Dogs need protein, healthy fats, carbs, and vitamins/minerals (as well as water). Without the proper mix of all these nutrients, your dog won’t be as healthy as it could be (if it were consuming a proper diet). An example of a dog food with a proper ratio of nutrients is Nature’s Recipe Lamb Meal & Rice Adult Dog Food. Look for the following ingredients when buying your next dog food:
- High-quality carbs (e.g. rice, barley, oats, potatoes)
- Naturally sourced protein (organic chicken, salmon, beef, lamb, etc.)
- Fats (certain vegetable oils or specifically animal-based fats)
- Vitamins/minerals (a wide range of added vitamins and minerals)
Dog Food Ingredients Recap
In order for your dog to be at its healthiest, you need to be feeding it a high-quality diet that’s rich in all of the required nutrients a dog needs to be healthy. Protein, carbs, fats, and vitamins/minerals are essential, but these nutrients need to be very high-quality.
Something to keep in mind when purchasing a dog food is that you should aim to buy the most expensive food that you can afford. The more expensive brands are usually priced that way for a reason (i.e. because they’re healthier).