Several recent stories about dogs falling ill from dog treats have been leading some pet owners to wonder what to look for in dog-food labels.
It's hard enough choosing healthy foods for yourself, let alone for your pet. To echo the sentiments of an article from pets.webmd.com,
Pet store aisles are lined with dozens of brands of dog food. There's dry food, canned food, and semi-moist food. Then there are all the labels: natural, holistic, super-premium, organic. How do you know which one is right for your dog?
Here are a few tips for dog owners who want to provide the very best ingredients for their pets.
Don't Equate Price With Quality
To start with, it's important to note that pricy doesn't always mean better. The pets.webmd.com article quotes Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, as saying:
"I've seen 'all-natural, holistic' dog foods that perform really poorly in dogs, and I've seen some dog foods that you might not want to feed your dog, that perform better. I don't think you get what you pay for."
Don't Equate "Holistic" Or "All Natural" With "High Quality"
According to the pets.webmd.com article, "Holistic," "premium," and "super-premium" are merely marketing terms. There are no official definitions for them. And "natural" means only that the product contains no synthetic ingredients.
So, if price and marketing terminology are not good indicators of the best dog food, what should pet owners look for?
A recent article in Modern Dog Magazine reveals many useful secrets to choosing healthy dog food. It states that you should be able to tell what type of meat was used in the dog food: A higher quality dog food will clearly identify the source of the meat (e.g., chicken, lamb, duck, etc.) or the source of the fat (e.g., poultry fat, soybean oil, etc.) as opposed to just listing "meat" or "fat."
A few other highlights from the article are:
The Modern Dog Magazine article also addresses other important dog-food issues, such as weather or not dogs should avoid wheat, good fats vs. bad fat, tinned food vs. dry food, and fiber vs. filler. We highly recommend taking a few moments to read the article in its entirety.
- Poultry meal is a much better ingredient than meat meal
- Avoid meat by-products
- Look for whole grain and avoid whole-grain meal if possible
- Avoid additives like glucose, fructose, cane molasses and corn syrup
Finally, when reading dog food labels, keep this warning from Petco in mind: Be aware that the ingredients are listed in the order of their weight in the food, so the first ingredients listed may not be the primary ingredients. The first ingredient may be meat, but if the next several ingredients are cereal, it may not be a meat-based food. The total of all those ingredients may well surpass the meat content of the food, making it a cereal-based food.