Dog Food: What Ingredients Make It Good or Bad?

With the many commercially prepared dog foods available on today’s market, it is often quite difficult to tell which ones are better than others and why – more on
First of all, you can’t judge by advertising which are the good and bad dog foods. Many advertisers spend millions of dollars per year advertising inferior foods. Unfortunately, a good indicator on quality of food is price. Low priced foods are not always, but most often, the lowest quality foods on the market.
You want to make sure that the adult dog food you are feeding is 22-25% protein and 15-19% fat. The protein should come from a good quality source. Some dogs such as puppies, large breeds, and active breeds have different protein and fat requirements. Make sure to discuss this with your veterinarian to ensure proper feeding of your dog.
In order for you to make an informed decision, you must know which ingredients are better than others. When you look at a food label, the following are the kinds of ingredients that you are looking for: Human Grade Ingredients Chicken meal, Turkey meal, Fish meal, Rice, Potatoes, Lamb meal, Potatoes, Rice, Sunflower Oil, Vegetables and others. Good dog foods first four ingredients should not be grains, but should consist of things like meat and proteins. You also want to make sure it says chicken meal and not chicken as the primary ingredient. If it says chicken only, this means that the manufacturers are counting the entire chicken toward protein value. This includes beaks, feathers, and feet. With chicken meal, they are only counting the cooked down version of the protein. This will ensure that your dog is getting the appropriate kind of protein and not byproducts. Vitamins and fatty acids are also good ingredients in dog foods. Some examples include Vitamin E, Omega 3 and 6, etc. These are very important for a healthy looking skin and coat. Make sure the dog food is not laden with preservatives.
Some of the ingredients that you don’t want to see on your dog food label include: Inferior protein which consists of but not limited to variations of the following: Wheat, Corn, Chicken by-products, Soy, Gluten. These ingredients are hard to digest and can cause health problems later on if used for a long period of time. Sugar is another ingredient that you want to stay away from.
You are always better off purchasing food from a company that spends time and money field testing their products. You can always be sure that companies such as Purina, the Iams Company (which also includes Eukanuba), Royal Canin, Nutro, Diamond, and Hill’s Science Diet are constantly testing their foods to provide the optimum quality ingredients. These companies offer different grades of food, however, from lower quality to premium quality so make sure that you always read the labels. These are not the only companies by any means who make good quality dog food. The important thing is to read the label, do your research, ask questions of your veterinarians and pet professionals and always be informed. People who work at feed stores are usually a good resource and can help you find good quality pet food. Breeders can also be a good source for finding a quality food for your dog. Dog trainers will also often have a good knowledge of proper nutrition.
You should always follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on food as well. Many times dogs of certain ages or with certain health conditions need to be on a prescription diet. While these diets are often expensive, they do contain the proper nutrients that dogs in these categories need. Many times owners will switch to a commercial food because of cost or palatability concerns and the dog’s health will go in to a decline. Your veterinary staff know what is best for your particular dog.
While it is often confusing, proper dog nutrition is vital to the health and longevity of your dog. By knowing what consists of good quality ingredients and which ingredients to avoid, you can be assured that you will choose the proper food for your dog. As always, if you have questions, ask your veterinary staff for more information.

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