While humans may never create the perfect canine diet, it is possible to find healthy dog food on your local market shelves. However, don’t trust the package design to tell you everything you need to know about the food you’re choosing for your best bud. Instead, take a few minutes to locate labels with important details. Remembering to look for a few pieces of key information ensures that you always pick healthy dog food and dog products. We’ve provided a guide here to help you identify what you need to know.
A Healthy Dog Food Has:
o Specific protein sources listed at the top, or near the top, of the ingredient list. Look for chicken, beef, pork, or lamb, etc. These are pure sources of protein. If a specific ingredient exists at the top of the list, it means that there is proportionately more of that ingredient in the recipe than other ingredients. Also, the term by-product is not inherently bad. In fact, it simply refers to meat that sold as something other than its initial intended purpose. Most of the time by-products are internal organs that offer incredible amounts of nutrients to your pets.
o An AAFCO statement. AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials and this association regulates animal food. If they post a statement on one of the dog products you’re looking at that says it is safe and balanced, chances are it’s a good buy.
o Healthy carbohydrates. Don’t throw your dogs to the wolves of trendy dietary hype. Grains and complex carbohydrates are key elements of healthy dog food. Wheat and barley are just a couple of good grains to look for on the ingredients list of dog products.
o A high density. While it is sometimes difficult to account for water weight, a dense dog food is typically a healthy dog food. Chewier, heavier kibbles (kibbles are ground down food shaped into pellets, typically for pet food, so this refers to dry dog food) help your pooch slow down while eating. Dense dog foods also tend to have less empty calories. A larger bag does not always mean a higher nutritional content.
A bag of dog food that has all four of the above characteristics is probably a good value for your hard-earned dollar. However, a few sinister attributes sometimes pop up. So use caution, and remember, always keep an eye out for the following four things that kill the quality of dog food.
“A little research goes a long way on the path to finding the perfect bag of healthy dog food.”
Healthy Dog Food Quality Killers
- Over-abundance of preservatives. Specifically look for chemicals like Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). Preservatives like these are widely used in the consumer marketplace and are edible. Their intended purpose is to keep foods from going rancid and control odors. However, laboratory tests have shown a propensity for carcinogenic properties within the chemicals. Small, inconsistent doses do little harm to most organisms. Still, it’s something to look out for.
- A ton of salts. Anything sodium related should exist as far down on the ingredient list as possible. A lower placement on the ingredient list indicates that the salt is probably more of a preservative than a flavoring. An abundance of salt can lead to bloating and a host of other health problems.
- Teeny, tiny bits of kibbles. Choose appropriately sized food pieces for the size of your dog. Small dogs have a hard time chowing down large kibbles, and that might lead to under-eating. On the opposing side, a large dog can devour small kibbles, resulting in over-eating. Look for dense kibbles that your dog will chew on, but can still comfortably eat without choking.
- Corn Syrups and sugars. There really is no reason to flavor dog products with sugar other than to entice the dog to eat more than it really should. Similar to giving candy to a baby, a dog fed sugar will crave sugar. This results in an unhealthy, obese and sweet-addicted canine. If the dog food needs sugar, it’s probably not a wellness dog food.
Remember to look for these simple things when purchasing your next bag of dog food. It’s not a foolproof guide, but it’s a great start. The best way to choose an optimal food for your best canine friend is to talk to your veterinarian. They sell dog food too, so make sure you ask about breed and size-specific nutrients, serving sizes, as well as essential fat and oil content. Raising specific concerns makes sure your dog’s doc gives you useful information to apply to your own decision-making, instead of simply offering another bag of food for you to purchase. A little research goes a long way on the path to finding the perfect bag of healthy dog food.