Dog Food Ingredients
When we cook or buy food for ourselves and our human family members, we normally have a good idea of what the ingredients are and how healthy or unhealthy they are. However, when it comes to dog food, we often don’t know what the ingredients are or how they affect our dogs’ health. Learning about dog food ingredients will help you to provide your dog with the best care possible.
Common Dog Food Ingredients
Dog food is no longer limited to “dry food” or “wet food”. There are many different types of diets that dog owners can choose for their pets, including:
- Dry dog food
- Wet dog food
- Dehydrated food
- Grain free dog food
- Limited ingredient dog food
No matter what form the food comes in, the main ingredients are often the same. The first ingredient in most dog foods is a meat, meat meal, or a combination of both. This is the main source of protein in the food, and different types of meat may be better for different dogs depending on their tastes, their health, and their lifestyle. The second dog food ingredient is typically some sort of grain, like oats, rice, or quinoa. Dogs, just like humans, need fruits and vegetables for micronutrients, so dog food should contain a few different kinds of produce.
But what are the best fruits and vegetables for dogs to eat? Is a meat meal as good as whole meat? And what about the preservatives, added flavors, and other things at the end of the ingredients list on the label? To answer these questions, we’ll talk about dog food ingredients to avoid as well as dog food ingredients that are healthy.
Dog Food Ingredients to Avoid
Many dog foods, especially traditional dog foods, include ingredients that are added to extend the shelf life of the product but can hurt your pets’ health. It’s best to check dog food labels for these ingredients and avoid buying anything that contains them.
Ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT are three examples of preservatives used to extend shelf life, and all three of them can seriously harm your pet over time. With prolonged exposure, these chemicals damage the liver and other vital organs.
Carrageenan is another important ingredient to avoid in dog food. It is used as a thickener and is currently allowed in food by the FDA, but it has been linked to cancer and heart disease by some of recent studies.
Meat meals, although they can provide the same protein content as whole meat, should be avoided in dog food when possible. It won’t directly harm your dog in the way that some preservatives will, but it comes from low-quality parts of meat scraps and often has very little nutritional value.
Healthy Dog Food Ingredients
The best dog food ingredients are very similar to the best human food ingredients since dogs also do best on a diet of whole foods that offer a complete nutrient profile:
- Whole grains and other high-quality carbs
- Olive, sunflower, or flaxseed oil
- Fruits and vegetables, especially superfoods
- Fatty acids
Although dogs shouldn’t eat exclusively meat, most dogs will do best on a diet that has meat as the first ingredient. Chicken, turkey, fish, and other lean protein sources are great options, but there is no one-size-fits-all, and different dogs will react better to different meats.
Carbohydrates are also a critical part of your dog’s diet. Whole wheat pasta and rice are great grains for dog food and produce like pumpkin, kale, or even berries can also provide healthy carbs.
You may have heard about omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in relation to a human diet, but they are also important for dogs. Fish oil and flaxseed give omega-3, while omega-6 can be found in most meat or poultry.
And of course, no healthy dog food would be complete without dog-friendly veggies. Carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and green beans are some of the bests, but any veggies that your pup likes to eat will suffice.
Just like the ingredients in our own food, the ingredients in your dog’s food can hurt or help their health, so it’s important to choose the right ones. We hope that this article made you feel more confident about choosing dog food, and for more pet care tips, you can check out our pet product reviews.
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