Healthy Pets - Reading Dog Food Labels
Dogs, like humans, have an immune system which protects their bodies from viruses, bacterial infections, parasites and other illness. Also like a human’s body, a dog’s immune system can be put into optimum condition by proper nutrition, lack of stress and exercise.
Does your dog have an immune system in peak working order? Do you see chronic ear infections, lack of energy, food allergies, arthritic conditions or skin and coat conditions? Many times these issues are liked to the food your dog is eating. Unfortunately many commercial brands of both canned and dry dog food contain mostly fillers, chemicals and poor quality ingredients.
Do you read the labels of foods you buy for yourself? Do you avoid processed foods, avoiding excess sugar, chemicals, additives and fat? To give your dog proper nutrition, start by reading the labels of the food you are currently purchasing.
Ingredients are listed in order of their content. If chicken or beef BY-PRODUCTS is the first ingredient, this could be any part of that animal, feet, head, bones, anything. Likewise if chicken or beef MEAL is the first ingredient, then it is not whole meat. If chicken or beef is the first ingredient, you can be assured that it is really the meat you are getting in the food. Ideally, by-products would not be listed on the labels of the food you buy.
If a canned dog food says “Beef Dog Food” then the products must be 95% beef. However, if it says “Beef Dinner” or “Beef Formula” then only 25% of the product has to be beef and this 25% could be Beef Meal. Also, if you purchase a can of “Chicken and Rice Dinner” then you could be getting more rice than chicken in the 25%.
So if your can of dog food has only 25% or less of real meat, what else might it contain? Products such as corn products, corn gluten, wheat gluten (a tainted batch of wheat gluten caused a recent pet food recall from Menu Foods and even killed some dogs and cats due to kidney failure), brewers rice, potato products, artificial colors, beef tallow, lard, blood meal, beef and bone meal, meat meals such as chicken, fish and beef meal, animal by-products and artificial flavors. Also avoid soy as many dogs don’t tolerate soy well. If you see these ingredients listed in your dog’s food, look for an alternative.
One simple rule of thumb to remember is to avoid generic sounding names like “potato PRODUCT” “chicken MEAL”, “BY-Products”, ANIMAL fat. Also avoid an excess of ingredients which you can’t pronounce. Also avoid ingredients that are not whole foods, such as “rice flour” or “rice bran.”
- Whole vegetables listed-peas, carrots, potatoes (Although these ingredients aren’t necessary as it is better to add your own fresh fruits and veggies to your dog’s diet- Just avoid onions, grapes and raisins)
- Whole corn need not be avoided unless it is the first ingredient. Some dogs don’t tolerate corn well however and any ingredients like “corn gluten” should be avoided.
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