Many of you know our backstory... and many of you don't. Kennedy was our dog child. We always tried to be responsible dog parents... we fed him well and fed him what we thought was some really great food.
It wasn't until a while after we lost Kennedy to heart failure that we realized that the "great food" we had been feeing him wasn't great at all. It actually actively contributed to his death through bad nutrition. That will make you feel like a great dog parent... right?
In this post, I will attempt to educate many of you on what makes a good pet food, and what doesn't.
I'll start with what you want to avoid at all costs. Dirt cheap dog foods are great for the budget, but horrible for your dog. You should always flip that bag over and take a look at the ingredients. 99.9% of the time, if it's a bargain brand, you're gonna end up paying far more in the later years of your pets life in vet bills.
What to avoid...
By-Products- If you see by-product listed on the ingredients list of your pet food, stop using it. It's that plain and simple. By-products are the remains of animals left once all of the meat and edible parts are removed. If Chicken By-Product is listed, you're most likely getting feet, beaks, bones, and organs that aren't edible. All different types of animals can be listed as by-product. However, the one list you want to avoid at all costs is the ingredient "Animal By-Product." When you see this listed, the manufacturer has found it acceptable to list and not disclose what it is. You have no clue what animal it is coming from. The scariest part of this situation is that the "Animal By-Product" in mention can include literally anything... roadkill, euthanized pets, zoo animals, even dead on arrival and diseased chicken and cows. It is literally a gamble, and your pets health is not worth that gamble.
Fillers- So what is a filler you ask? A filler is an ingredient listed on your pet food that has no nutritional value for your pet, and sometimes can actually be bad for them, that is used to bulk up pet food. There are so many manufacturers guilty of this that it's scary. Even some that are considered "great" pet foods are 100% guilty of using fillers in their food. So what are some of the big fillers?
Corn... Corn has little to no nutritional value for your dog. As a matter of fact, corn was identified as one of the top 3 allergens for your dog or cat. What's really shocking about this information is that many manufacturers pack their food full of corn... some as one of the MAIN ingredients! If corn is listed on the ingredients of your pet food, it's not as good as you may have thought. Corn is extremely cheap for manufacturers to put in their food.
Wheat- Another ingredient that has no nutritional value for your pet. There are many pets with grain allergies, and wheat can be horrible for those pets. Another extremely cheap ingredient to add to pet foods that really should not be there.
Soy- Though the effects of soy in pet foods isn't as bad as many others, there's still really no reason to use it. It doesn't provide a great source of nutrition for your dog, and many dogs actually develop gas from it. Think smelly dog farts. Soy, again, is cheap.
Cellulose- Do you know what cellulose is? Many may actually know the answer to that question because it was identified in HUMAN foods a while back. Cellulose is actually wood. Yes... wood... a big ol' tree. Cellulose is dehydrated wood that is powdered, and then used as a filler or (in the case of the shredded cheese epidemic) to keep food from sticking together. Do I really need to dive any further in to this one? I mean... it's wood.
I could seriously sit here and type out fillers all day long... but I will leave it with that as the items I mentioned tend to be some of the main contenders.
So now that you know what's not good... what is considered GOOD for your dog?
Meal- Many people really don't have a clue what meal is in pet food. Some actually think meal is the same as by-product. It is not. You WANT meal in your pet food. For an example: Chicken Meal has 300% more protein than Chicken listed on your ingredients list. When a protein (meat) meal is listed as the main ingredient on your pet food label, your pet is getting a high protein food. You want that. Meal is created by taking all of the edible parts from an animal (Chicken, Cow, Lamb, etc), dehydrating those parts, then creating a powder from them. Not only does it make it much easier to incorporate meal in to kibble, the resulting meal is actually much higher in protein. One thing to mention is that if your pet food simply has a protein listed... (Chicken, Beef, Lamb)... and it is NOT a meal, that protein must be dehydrated to go in to kibble. In essence, that ingredient actually moves much further down the ingredient list. It may not be the main ingredient in your pet food anymore.
Vegetables- Vegetables are actually extremely good for your pet. A pet food packed full of healthy vegetables is definitely a good thing. Vegetables can do the same thing for your dog that they do for us.
Vitamins- Check your label to see if there are any vitamins added. Many do, some don't. Obviously the more the better. Any and all vitamins added to the mix are nothing but good for your pet.
I really hope this post has educated you with pet food. The goal was to open a few eyes, and possibly cause you to look at that label. It's one thing we encourage with every person that walks in to our store. Look at your pet food label, bring it in to our store... we will show you why ours is better. It's all about the nutrition of your pet. Excellent nutrition can lead to a healthier pet, and lower vet bills later down the road. And, a healthier pet leads to a happier pet. Feeding your pet excellent, healthy, fresh, nutritionally superior foods creates a chain of events in their lives that are wonderful.