Dog foods on the market today are often advertised as healthy, organic, or natural but still contain harmful ingredients for your dog's health. As pet owners, it's important that we don't just take a brand's word for it when they make the packaging look and sound healthy. If you're not already doing so, turn your dog food package around and check for these potentially harmful ingredients in your dog's food, and avoid them at all costs.
Animal "by-product" means everything that is left of an animal carcass once the meat and bones have been removed. This is nothing more than slaughterhouse scrap. This can include things like feet, feathers, beaks, hair, pieces of tumors, hide, and more. These things are not easily digested by your dog and oftentimes provide little nutritional value.
Make sure you're choosing products with REAL meat in them for your dog or consider getting a pre-mix diet plan and adding your own protein.
Generic Meat Products: "Meat Meal," "Bone Meal" or "Meat"
Of course, meat is good for dogs. But some dog food brands will list "meat meal" or simply just "meat" as an ingredient in their food. What does that mean? What kind of "meat" is it?
When manufacturers include this nondescript language on an ingredient list, you can bet that it is not quality food and if oftentimes a mixture of several types of meats including dead livestock or zoo animals. Yes! It is really that bad.
Look for REAL meats that you recognize on pet food labels. These ingredients are less processed and contain more natural nutrients and protein for your dog.
3 Preservatives to Avoid in Pet Food
Preservatives in dog food can lead to poor digestion and in turn, have several harmful health effects including skin and coat issues, irregular bowel movements, depression, and more. Three preservatives that are often used to pet food and should be avoided include:
- BHA - Butylated hydroxyanisole
- BHT - Butylated hydroxytoluene
- Propyl gallate
Pet food companies often use artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life of their food, but at a cost that is too high for pet health. Pet food that IS healthy for your dog will contain natural preservatives like vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), or rosemary. While these natural preservatives don't offer as long of a shelf-life, they are a much safer choice for your dog. If you want to avoid preservatives all together, canned dog food can be a great choice. The canning process eliminates the need for chemical preservation.
Salt is necessary for both humans and canines. However, too much salt can be harmful. Excess salt can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and more. Salt is naturally present in many ingredients without it being added directly. Make sure you're checking your pet food and treat labels to avoid any added salt. If your dog's food contains healthy, quality ingredients, flavor enhancers like salt won't be needed.
Fat can be beneficial to pet health. However, pet foods will often list "animal fat" or "poultry fat" on their ingredient panels. In the pet food world, this often means combined fat diseased or dying animals and can often be rancid.
Make sure any fats or oils in your pet's food are coming from named sources. For example: "salmon oil" is a better choice than "fish oil" and "coconut oil" is better than "vegetable oil". If the brand and manufacturer are specific about the source of their ingredients, they are often higher quality.
Other Ingredients to Avoid
Here are a few other ingredients to watch out for and avoid in your dog's food.
- Artificial colors
- Corn Syrup
- Nitrates (Sodium Nitrate)
- Soy (Soy or Soybean Oil)
- White Rice