Choosing Dog Food - Read The Labels

Narrated from: Dog Food

Some people would say: “Dogs? They can eat absolutely anything! They are animals, and have an instinct for picking the right food, don’t they?”

That is not so. Dogs are not like you; they cannot judge what they are eating – especially where artificial flavors are concerned. A dog that does not eat right gets unhealthy – obesity, excessive growth, poor muscles, skeletal problems and a poor immune system are just a few of the hazards. It is up to you to choose the best diet for your dog – and that starts by choosing the best brand of dog food!

But how do you pick the healthiest brand of dog food? Well, first you must consider if your dog is grown or not. Food that would be good for a grown dog would be bad for a puppy’s development and vice versa; puppy food would make a grown dog grow fat!
The most important thing you have to consider is the list of ingredients. You cannot and should not just trust the labels proclaiming: “Best food ever!” And sadly, you must not make a lower price your top priority.

You see, many cheaper brands of dog food are made of inexpensive ingredients that are actually not edible! You imagine that dog food is just pieces of meat – but the wrong type of food would have the nutritional equivalent of a small piece of meat placed on a heap of plastic. Your dog may eat plenty – but it would actually eat less than it should!

But when you look at the labels – how are you supposed to tell the difference between “good” and “bad” dog food ingredients?

What you must look for – according to law, the ingredient list should be sorted by weight. This means that you must look for foods listing meat, fish, egg, or some type of meat meal or fish meal as the first or second ingredient. You should be careful though – some manufacturers will just divide the main ingredient into subgroups, trying to hide it. If the labels list many kinds of corn for instance – that would make corn the primary ingredient, which is not good.

Protein is an important element – your dog food should contain about 18% protein for grown dogs and 28% protein for puppies. Have it in mind, though, that the labels do not list the digestibility of the protein! Generally, it is assumed that in quality dog foods 70% up to 80% of the protein gets digested; while in lower quality dog foods digestibility drops to 60% or less.

Plants and grains – it might seem strange to you that dog food contains stuff like veggies, grains, and corn etc., but dogs need such ingredients as well. They are a source of carbohydrates, which act as a secondary energy source, and fibers that could be beneficial in many ways to your dog’s health. You should be careful though, because some manufacturers stuff their food with too much grain or corn!

Fats are also an important element of your dog’s diet. Your dog food should contain about 17% fats for puppies and 9 to 15% for a grown dog.

How to recognize low quality dog food – It is important to recognize the ingredients that indicate that there is something wrong with the dog food you are about to buy.  Here are some basic examples of what to avoid:

•    Generic meat sources – any meat product that does not disclose the animal species from which it is derived.

•    By-products and digests – generally such ingredients are of questionably quality since they are made from left-over parts.

•    Low quality fat sources – they have a low nutritional value. Typical examples are lard and tallow.

•    Gluten products – gluten products contain high levels of protein, but they are not easily digested, which makes them a poor substitute for meat. Examples include wheat gluten, corn gluten meal and so on.

•    Soy products – not all soy products are bad. In low quality brands, though, they are used to boost the protein value of the dog food. Low quality soy products pose a threat to your dog’s health and may lead to allergies.

•    Hulls – derived from the inedible outer shells of nuts, grains, soybeans or rice, they are used as cheap fillers.

•    Sugar and sweeteners – avoid such ingredients. They are of no value to your dog, and pose a severe health hazard!

•    Color additives – another guarantee that you are looking at low-quality dog food. Dogs don’t care about the color of their food.

•    Synthetic preservatives – these ingredients are an important part of dog food, but there are healthy alternatives. Avoid preservatives such as butylated hydroxysanisol (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin.

So take some time; read dog food labels. You may find that many of the cheaper brands of dog food are filled with these ingredients. It is up to you to find the best compromise between your household budget and your dog’s health.

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