Deciphering Dog Food Ingredients Labels

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Have you ever looked at your dog food ingredients label? If you think it is hard to understand, you’re not alone. But what you don’t know about what is in your dog food could cause health problems for your dog. You only want the best for your pet, but his current dog food may actually be harming him.

Sometimes is seems like you need a degree to figure out all the ingredients in your dog food. What do all these terms mean? The dog food companies basically tell you not to worry about it – they will take care of your beloved pet. But consumers got a terrible wake-call with the massive pet food recalls over the last few years. They may know what is best for our dogs, but that is not what they are giving us. Thankfully, more organic and all-natural pet foods have been springing up, giving us healthier dog food choices.

What you need to do is learn how to compare your dog food to other brands. There are a couple of tips to help in deciphering the dog food ingredients label:

1. The first 5 – 10 ingredients listed are the majority of the food. If they are not quality ingredients, it is not a quality pet food.

2. Look for the chemical preservatives BHA, BHT, or Ethoxyquin. These preservatives have been banned from use in human food as they are linked to kidney and liver damage. However, they are still used in inferior dog foods. Look instead for natural preservatives, like vitamins C and E (ascorbic acid and tocopherols).

3. When looking at your ingredients, be aware of multiple ingredients in the same “family”, corn for example. You may look and see ingredient #4 is corn bran, #7 is corn flour, and #8 is corn gluten meal. This makes the corn look like it is less of a major ingredient. But if you added the weights of #4, #7, and #8 together and called it corn, it could jump up to the #2, maybe even #1 spot. Is it legal? Totally. Is it sneaky? Definitely.

4. It makes sense that a quality dog food will have a meat listed in the first 2 ingredients. But you really want to see a meat meal. The meat meal is the same as meat, but most of the moisture/liquid has been removed first. Therefore an ounce of meat weighs more than an ounce of meat meal (and is higher in the ingredient list), but there are more nutrients and protein in an ounce of meat meal than an ounce of meat. But when the dog food gets processed, the meat is first dehydrated. So you would be getting less of the actual meat if meat is listed instead of meat meal. Very confusing!

The moral of the story? Learn to read the labels to see what you are actually feeding your dog. Your current dog food may be great, or it may be the worst thing for your dog. Don’t just rely on enticing packaging showing a delicious chicken and lots of fresh beautiful fruits and vegetables. Although we like to think that is what we are feeding our dogs, the reality is, most dog foods are nothing like this!

About the Author:

Learn how to keep your dog healthy by deciphering the dog food ingredients list. Visit the Healthy Dog Food blog to learn more about healthy dog food ingredients and how to find the healthiest dog food to keep your dog healthy, naturally.

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