What should you be looking for when considering a new dog food?
It might seem obvious, but looking at the quality of the ingredients will tell you everything you need to know.
Here is what is worth considering:
Protein is an essential part of your dog's diet. We look for a majority of a healthy dog's diet to be made up of whole meat proteins. Chicken, deboned chicken, lamb, turkey, and salmon are some examples of healthy whole meat protein sources that should be listed early and often in an ingredient list.
Whole meats are the cleanest source of protein for your dog.
Sometimes you see ingredients like 'chicken meal' or 'pork meal' early on in the ingredients list. Meals are not whole meats and vary widely in quality. Meals are regularly a mix of by-products from discarded meats, or sometimes whole meats, which are then cooked to create a concentrated protein powder. Meals are added to supplement the amount of protein in your dog's food. However, we look to see that meals are not the primary source of protein.
No meal product can be healthier than the raw materials that were used to make it.
You may also see alternative protein sources like peas, lentils, and chickpeas listed. A similar logic applies to plant-based proteins as it does with meat meals. We don't want plant-based protein to make up for lack of meat-based protein.
Make sure the first sources of protein in your dog's food come from whole meat, rather than a plant.
How can I evaluate dog food myself? What should I be looking for?
First ten ingredients of a poor quality dog food:
Corn, soybean meal, beef & bone meal, whole wheat, animal fat, corn syrup, wheat middlings, propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride.
What we don't like about it:
Corn is the first ingredient, meaning it is what the manufacturer used most. Corn is not a significant source of protein. Additionally, we don't see any whole meats in this dog food. The primary protein source comes from soybean meal rather than whole meat. We see ingredients like corn syrup (a sweetener) and hydrochloric acid (a corrosive acid added to help your dog digest this food).
First ten ingredients of excellent dog food:
Grass-fed lamb, duck, whole eggs, lamb meat meal, whole herring meal, turkey meal, green peas, red lentils, whole chickpeas, fresh wild-caught northern pike.
What we like about it:
There are many things to consider when choosing healthy food for our pets. Not every dog is the same. Like us, they have unique stomachs and personal preference. Let's do our best for our besties.
Have any questions about evaluating the quality of food? Send us a message and we'll help you out!