A DogGeek.com exclusive by Teresa Barker
We all know that calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein are not the whole picture when considering good nutrition. The quality of these sources, and their accompanying vitamin/antioxidant and amino-acid content should also be considered. As we’ve become more saavy at scanning the ingredient labels of our own processed foods, it’s important to do the same for our dog’s food and treats. Empty calories and nutrient-void ingredients should not make up a meal for canines, just like humans! Here’s an easy starting point, if reading the dog food ingredient label is a new hobby for you dog moms and dads.
Ingredients to avoid:
Make sure that the protein source in your dog’s food is pure. The ingredient should say “beef”, or “salmon”, or “chicken”. By-products are the left overs from the human food manufacturing of animals that are deemed unfit for human consumption. The actual ingredient “by-product” is the secondary, or incidental product from manufacturing process for said meat. “Meat-Meals” can contain skin and bones, as well as the stated protein source. If an ingredient is simply listed as “Meat Byproduct” or “Meat Meal” definitely do not buy it, as it doesn’t even specify what type, or types, of protein the “meat” used is.
- Corn, Wheat, and Soy
These grains fall into the top-allergens category for dogs. Additionally, unless they are organic, they also fall into the top most genetically-modified crops. These three are often the culprit for skin allergies, which is often treated by simply switching foods. Wheat gluten and processed grains (flours) should also be avoided. Other healthier whole grains that are found in some foods include barley, brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and oats.
- Artificial colors or flavors
Although this one may seem like a “no-brainer”, until you really look at how dog food is made for the human eye (and pocket book), you may have accidentally over looked these ingredients. Many treats have “artificial bacon flavoring” to make the product look and smell like the real food, bacon. This is an unhealthy and unnecessary trick to play on dogs who can’t read. Also, if there’s a color (like Yellow) followed by a number (any) avoid it.
- Additives and Preservatives
Sugar, salt, fructose, sucrose, and other sweeteners are often added to treats to make them seem more appealing to dogs. Just like in human food, these have no nutritional value and can eventually lead to obesity and canine diabetes or hypertension.
Shopping for dog food can be frustrating and time consuming when you’re searching for high-quality ingredients. Don’t waste of your time looking at the pictures or marketing statements on the bags, simply turn it around, find the ingredient list and make sure that none of the above are on the list. Manufacturers are required, by law, to give accurate information about what is in the food. So, with this list handy, you can easily find the healthiest, most nutritious food for your canine loved-one!