In order to learn how to choose dog food, you need to understand a few key points. While it’s not quite as simple as buying the most expensive food to ensure that you are buying the best food for your dog, there is a lot of truth to the idea that you get what you pay for with dog food. Price is often an indication of quality. However, there is no need for you to pay for food your dog doesn’t need or to pay more than you have to pay. The cheapest food in the grocery store aisle is virtually guaranteed to be made from ingredients you do not want to feed your dog. If you feed your dog this food you can count on bad skin, greasy coat, and eventual health problems. But, don’t let the price tag of the higher quality dog food scare you. At the cash register you might balk at the higher costs and wonder if it’s even worth it. However, here are a few reasons why the more expensive dog foods are worth it:
You’ll Use Less: When you choose dog food of a higher quality your dog is able to digest more nutrients from less food.
You’ll Have Fewer Health Issues: With better quality foods you can expect your dog to have good skin, a shiny coat, bright eyes, good energy, small, firm stools, and to feel good.
Another aspect to choosing the right dog food is to know what the ingredients are. It’s best to take 30 seconds to look at the label. You’ll be able to tell very quickly if the dog food is high quality or not.
The Top 5 Ingredients Are What Matter Most
There should be a meat item within the first three ingredients and preferably as the top ingredient. There are 3 different types of meat products, however, and it's important to know the differences:
Meat by-product basically means any part of an animal can be used. So, for instance, if the label says Chicken By-Product, that means anything can be included like feathers, beaks, feet, eyeballs, intestines, etc. They can also include animals which are very sick or animals which died before slaughtering. It’s the leftovers and the garbage nobody wants.
Meat items labeled as “meal” can only include actual meat. Unlike meat by-products, they can’t use other parts of the animal like beaks, intestines, horns, feathers, etc. Meals consist entirely of meat, skin, and bone. The reason dog food contains meat meal is because it’s a condensed meat which make it very high in protein and animal fat. Meat meals are very nutritious and beneficial for dogs.
If you’re in the mood to spoil your dog, you can find something with whole meats. These types of meats will simply be labeled as chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, etc. They may also say something like Fresh Chicken or Whole Chicken. This is the premium stuff and may be human grade meat. The main difference with whole meat is it can contain up to 70% moisture before cooking whereas meal has the moisture removed before being processed into kibble. That means, whole meat contains less nutrients than a meat meal.
While the first 5 ingredients don’t have to be only meat and likely won’t be, they should consist mostly of meat products and the other ingredients should be free of corn. If there is a carbohydrate this high on the list, it’s better for it to be something such as potato (especially sweet potato), oatmeal, millet, amaranth, or rice (except brewers rice). These carbohydrates are much easier for a dog to digest than wheat or corn products.
Dog Food Ingredients To Stay Away From
Your dog will do better if you keep the grains and other carbohydrates in the low to moderate range.
Whether you choose to feed your dog a grain-free food or not is up to you but, if you do, you will probably find that there are other carbohydrates in the food to make up for the lack of traditional grains, if for no other reason than the fact that extruded dog food (and that covers just about all kibble food) requires some grain/cereal/carbohydrate in the food to help it form a paste so it can go through the machinery. From a nutritional viewpoint, it’s also a good idea for your dog to have some complex carbohydrates in his digestive tract so he can digest them slowly and continue to feel full after eating.
Meat by-product can include bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, heads, feet, and feathers. Your dog would probably enjoy eating these parts, but it’s not what you want him to eat.
This is a very generic term for mammal or poultry fat that has been rendered from miscellaneous sources. Again, you want fat, meat, and other ingredients to be as specific as possible.
This usually consists of low quality leftovers from some other types of food manufacturing processes such as leftover waste rice which was used in the production of alcohol products. You also want to avoid any labels which say potato product, middlings/mids, mill run, cereal food fines, corn bran, oat hulls, rice hulls, peanut hulls, distillers grain fermentation solubles, brewers rice, and cellulose (ground up wood particles).
Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Not only do you want to avoid sugar, but you also want to avoid cane molasses, corn syrup, sorbitol, sucrose, fructose, glucose, ammoniated glycyrrhizin, propylene glycol, and xylitol. This is used to make food more tasty for your dog. They add additional calories unnecessarily and have absolutely no nutritional value.
Unspecified animal parts are cooked down into a broth and sprayed onto food or sometimes mixed right in. Avoid it.
Food coloring, including blue 2, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, and titanium dioxide should be avoided. They are unnecessary as your dog doesn’t care what size, shape, or color the food is. The coloring is added to be more appealing to the human.
Some dog food companies use this in their food to help dogs digest their food better. Hydrochloric Acid is produced naturally in a dogs stomach to break down food. Any food which needs to have hydrochloric acid added in addition to what the dog naturally produces should be a clue that it’s a terrible food! Do not purchase any dog food containing hydrochloric acid
You now have the knowledge to choose dog food with confidence! Want some recommendations? Well, we feed all our dogs Canidae All Life Stage dog food. We've found that it performs very well for the breeding and hunting stages of our dogs, as well as for the puppies. Canidae All Life Stages Dog Dry Food Chicken, Turkey, Lamb & Fish Meals Formula is vet formulated for dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. And, it contains optimum protein from chicken, turkey, lamb & fish meals for a nutritionally dense formula. It's also made with premium ingredients: no corn, wheat, or soy