It wasn’t until my beloved American Eskimo died of Ethoxyquin poisoning that we found out just what was in dog food. It broke my heart to think that we were so naďve and fed our pet something that would ultimately kill him.
That was nearly 20 years ago and ever since then, we have been careful to the point of extreme caution when buying our dog food. If it wasn’t for a great pet shop owner that told us to read the labels, we wouldn’t have known.
The first ingredient is the most important. If it says “corn meal”…run! Or you could just give your dog a bowl of cereal. It may sound harsh, but in reality, if the main ingredient isn’t protein, you might as well feed them wheeties! Would you like to live on cereal? Well nor would I. Most fill their products with grain because that is the cheapest form of ingredient to bulk it up with.
With the demand for “natural” and “holistic” products, manufacturers are focusing their products on these consumers…some with nothing but marketing strategies that mislead us into thinking their product is the perfect solution. Be vigilant and read the list of ingredients carefully. Just like “people” food, not all dog foods are what they appear to be.
Canines have different nutritional needs than humans. They are carnivores. They love meat and weren’t mean to be vegetarians. They cannot live on our diets and shouldn’t be given scraps from the dinner table – even though they are begging or salivating beside you with those soulful eyes. (There are a few exceptions such as organic vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes for a little treat.)
The quality of protein in the formula is significantly important for your pet’s health. The top of ingredients should be, ‘beef,’ ‘turkey,’ ‘lamb’ or ‘chicken’ -- one-word descriptions. Stay away from any formula that uses unidentified sources like ‘meat,’ ‘animal’ or ‘poultry.’
The next ingredient of healthier quality foods will most likely be a meat source followed by the word ‘meal” as in ‘chicken meal’ or ‘turkey meal’) with the following three, four and five ingredients being vegetables (steer clear of corn, wheat or beep pulp), fruit and a whole grain source like brown rice. We feed ours grain-free holistic food and organic grains are preferable but they are no replacement for meat content. Avoid formulas with grain fillers. Grain-free formulas will often use potatoes as the starch, which holds the food together during processing.
Walk away from products corn or soy in any form, formulas containing by-products (contain parts of beaks, feathers, feet, hooves, hair and even tumors that have been ground into the mix during processing), artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives, especially those known to be carcinogens (BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin and propyl gallate) on the shelf. Corn is a cheap filler ingredient, non-nutritious for pets, and a known allergenic. Soy is estrogenic and wreaks havoc on your pet’s endocrine system.
It can be bewildering to figure out the quality of a pet food. But with practice, you can become expert at reading labels and understanding the nutritional value of the food you feed your pet. After all, you wouldn’t want to eat something that wasn’t good, so why feed it to your companion?
Please always do your research and consult with your veterinarian before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested on this page. Only your vet can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or to diagnose your pets particular medical issue.