As dog parents, we try to feed our dogs high quality and nutritious food. We want them to be as healthy and happy as possible. However, dog food labels can be confusing to read and many foods include ingredients that can be very harmful to our canines. We’ll explain what ingredients you should avoid for your pooch and how to choose a high quality diet that will allow them to thrive.
Harmful Ingredients Commonly Found in Dog Foods
When we buy dog food, we presume that it is healthy and nutritious for our dogs. If it’s sold on shelves it must be good right? Wrong! Many dog foods are of poor quality and it can be hard to tell the difference between high quality and poor quality foods as the ingredient lists can be confusing.
Many ingredient lists contain lots of preservatives, flavor enhancers, and poor quality ingredients. If you don’t know what they are, it can be hard to spot them so we’ve summarized the most common ingredients to avoid below.
Ingredients to avoid feeding your dog
A quick google search on ‘melamine’ will yield pictures of kitchen worktops and cups. Why is this? It’s because melamine is actually a plastic. Added to pet food, it can falsely increase protein levels making the food appear like it has adequate levels of protein. Apart from giving false protein levels, it can actually cause a lot of harm to your dog. It can cause kidney stones and subsequent kidney failure. In 2007, there was a massive recall for dog foods with melamine as it sadly resulted in the deaths of both dogs and cats. In 2008, melamine was responsible for countless babies getting sick when it was added to infant formula. Under no circumstances should you feed this to your dog.
Meat meal is exactly what it sounds like, a mush of all sorts of leftover meat and scraps blended together. Although this can add protein to your dog’s diet as it’s from meat, it’s not quality protein and can include diseased meat. If you want to know where your dog’s meat comes from, steer clear of this ingredient.
Food dyes are used to artificially create different colors in our dog’s food. Have you ever seen kibble with brown pieces for meat and green pieces to represent vegetables? That food has used food dye. There’s no benefit to this for our dogs and they don’t care what color their food is. It just adds to the number of chemicals used in dog food and it could be harmful to your dog.
Sweeteners such as corn syrup are often added to dog food to add a sweet taste and increase palatability. This is an unnecessary ingredient as dogs don’t really like sweet tastes. Even more importantly, diets with a lot of sweeteners could lead to diabetes and obesity in dogs. Certain sweeteners such as xylitol are toxic to dogs and could be fatal if ingested.
Flavor enhancers are exactly what they say, an ingredient to enhance the flavor of the food so the dog wants to eat it. You may ask though if the food tasted nice enough naturally why would it need a flavor enhancer? It wouldn’t. High quality food tastes good already and doesn’t need this unnecessary ingredient. One of these flavor enhancers, MSG, which is commonly used in Chinese food can lead to obesity, and allergies and has been linked to many other conditions in humans.
BHA, BHT, nitrates/nitrites, ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, carrageenan, sodium hexametaphosphate – do you know what these ingredients are? They’re preservatives commonly added to dog foods. They’re used to increase the shelf life of dog food so that it lasts longer. High quality foods shouldn’t need these ingredients and many of them can be harmful to dogs. Some of them are even known as carcinogens to humans because of how harmful they are.
While some fats are healthy, others can actually be harmful. Certain fats, like vegetable oil, can contain high levels of omega-6 which is a known trigger for inflammation when too much is included in the diet. This can aggravate conditions like arthritis in dogs making them more painful.
Fish (like Salmon) can be nutritious for our pets. However, we should avoid dog foods that include farmed fish because they can contain more mercury and chemicals than wild caught fish from natural environments.
Choosing a Good Quality Dog Food
Now that you know what ingredients to avoid in dog food, it should be easier to pick a high quality food for your pooch. Look for human-grade ingredients with a limited ingredient list. All ingredients should be clearly labeled, understandable, and easily sourced back to the manufacturer.
Preventing Health Conditions in Our Dogs
By now after reading this article, you should be able to see that many ingredients can have harmful effects on our dogs. We’ve mentioned some of the worst ingredients that you should avoid in dog foods. This will aim to keep your dog healthier by decreasing their exposure to carcinogens and toxic ingredients which can lead to inflammation, organ disease, and cancers.
Feeding a high quality diet without preservatives, sweeteners and other unnecessary ingredients will help to decrease their chances of developing diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, and many other conditions.
Dog foods vary a lot in their quality and many diets include harmful ingredients to dogs. Some of the most common include preservatives, sweeteners, flavor enhancers, and high carb fillers. They don’t offer any nutritional benefit to our pets and can actually cause serious health conditions such as kidney disease, inflammation, and potentially cancer. Avoid feeding any unnecessary ingredients to your dog and look for a human-grade dog food with recipes where every single ingredient contains a nutritional purpose.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top 10 toxic foods for dogs?
There are many toxic foods out there including; onions, garlic, cherries, avocado, grapes, raisins, chocolate, xylitol, melamine, preservatives, and many more.
What is the best main ingredient in dog food?
Look for a high quality meat as the protein source that is clearly labeled (example: turkey thigh).
What is the healthiest food to feed your dog?
There are many healthy foods out there that are nutritionally balanced and complete. They should be approved by the relevant authorities depending on your country and have high-quality ingredients that are clearly labeled and free from preservatives.