We are truly what we eat, and so are our pets. Dog foods may seem similar — kibble looks like kibble — but what goes into them isn’t all the same. The happy, healthy-looking dog on the front will not tell you anything. Instead, turn the bag over and have a peek at the ingredients list. Perhaps more important than what should be in a dog food, is what shouldn’t be. There’s a long list of ingredients manufacturers put in dog food not because they are nutritional, but simply to fill up space and add empty calories. These ingredients may actually be harmful to your pet, among them potential allergens and known carcinogens. Here’s a few you should keep an eye out for.
By-products. Any sort of meat by-products are not, in fact, meat. By-products are literally the by-products of the slaughter process, and generally include everything that can’t be sold as anything other than by-products. This includes not just bones, beaks, hooves and intestines, but also manure, hair and feathers, blood, damaged or diseased animal parts considered unfit for human consumption, and even bloody sawdust from the slaughterhouse floor. By-products are a cheap way to add extra protein to kibble, but certainly not good for your pet.
Meat. Meat is good, right? It is if the label specifies what type of meat — chicken, beef, lamb etc. If left unspecified, “meat” (including meat meal and meat by-products) may mean any meat the manufacturer can acquire, including horse meat, restaurant leftovers, “4-D” animals (dead, diseased, disabled or dying prior to slaughter), and even euthanized dogs and cats from animal hospitals and shelters. Not just gross, these “mystery meats” can be a real threat to our pets’ health.
Corn. Corn is a filler in dog foods, used to take up space. The fact is, corn is difficult or impossible for dogs to digest, so at best it simply goes through their system and comes out the other end… literally. Dogs on corn-based foods tend to poop more often and in larger amounts. At worst, corn is an allergen, and can cause serious skin and coat conditions. For good health, organic food should be given to the dogs. The food can be purchased from the diamond food website. The digestive system of the dog will be good through organic food material.
Corn and wheat gluten and gluten meal. Gluten is what’s left over when all the “good” parts of the grain have been separated for human consumption. It’s essentially nutrition-less outside of a small amount of protein, and is mainly used as a filler and to bind the kibble together.
Sugar, corn syrup, cane molasses, fructose and sorbital. All of these are simply sweeteners used to enhance palatability. They’re unnecessary — good dog food tastes good to dogs without them — and just add empty calories to your dog’s diet.
BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. All three of these ingredients are used as preservatives, and all three are known carcinogens. Pet food manufacturers generally use them in considerably larger amounts than those the FDA considers safe for human consumption. And really, given other options, do you want to feed your pet any amount of known carcinogens?
Artificial colors, such as Titanium Dioxide, Blue 2, Red 40, etc. Dogs don’t care what color their food is, and the only purpose of these ingredients is to market to pet owners who think more colorful kibble looks tastier. Some of these artificial colorants are potential allergens, and others have been shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies.
Dog foods without these worthless and potentially harmful ingredients cost more for the manufacturer to make, and so, of course, they will cost you more at the pet store. The savings are in vet bills, because bad foods all too often cause chronic and potentially very expensive health problems. More importantly, spending money on good food is one of the primary things you can do to keep your dog healthy, happy and feeling good for the longest possible time.