Do You Look at Dog Food Ingredients?

Get a better understanding of dog food nutrition and what’s in your dog’s bowl.

We all want the best for our pets, so dog food ingredients would be near the top of the list. But what is actually in commercially prepared dog food?

The recent pet food recall added to our concerns. It’s important to understand what goes into that big bag of dog food. While reading the label can be confusing, with a little detective work you can decipher much of the hidden content of your dog’s food. Nutrition is the key.

What’s In A Name?

The first clue as to the content of your dog food is in the title. If the food is named for the main ingredient, such as “Lamb Dog Food”, then the named ingredient, i.e. lamb, must make up at least 70% of the food. But if the name of the food is called a “dinner” or “formula” such as “Beef Formula” or “Chicken Dinner”, that ingredient may only make up 25% of the food. Empty fillers make up the difference in content in those types of food.

Looking For The Best Dog Food

Puppies eating Often the dog food ingredients list will be accompanied by words such as “meal” “by-products”, “crude proteins”.

By-products are dog food ingredients that make up much of poorer dog foods. Meat by-products are the left over parts of the animal unfit for human consumption, such as the intestines, organs, and diseased animals.

Crude Protein is often made from the hooves and hair of animals, as well as the feathers and beaks of poultry. Although this protein source may make up a strong percentage of a given dog food, very little of it can actually be absorbed by the dog.

Meal refers to cereal grains, the leftover hulls and husks of wheat and corn, after being processed for human use. These have very little nutritional value.

Get Out the Reading Glasses!

Food label Take a look at the ingredients label of your dogs’ food often there can be twenty or more ingredients listed!

The dog food ingredients are listed on the label in order of total volume, with the first few ingredients making up the main content of the food.

A dog food with ingredients listed as “beef, chicken meal, barley, brown rice” is therefore made with true beef as it’s main ingredient, an important animal-protein source.

Another label may read, “Ground wheat, corn meal, meat meal, chicken fat, wheat gluten”. In this example, a meat product is not the largest component of the food or even the second! The meat products that are being used are the by-products, and do not supply an adequate source of meat based protein to the dog.

What’s In Your Dog’s Dish? Do You Know About Dog Food Nutrition?

Once you have the knowledge to decipher a dog food label, it’s time to take a look at what you have been feeding your hunting dog. If that bag of food suddenly isn’t looking like it’s worth the money you paid for it, keep in mind a few other things before you start looking for an alternative brand.

So-called “organic” dog food ingredients can fall into two groups. Foods labeled “organic” contain at least 95% true organic ingredients. However, foods advertised as “made with organic ingredients” may only contain 70% organic ingredients. With the price of these specialty diets on the rise, make sure he’s getting the best dog food.

How About Some Homemade Dog Food?

Home cooked diets have become increasingly popular recently, and that popularity has grown exponentially since the dog food recall. Home made dog food can be cooked, or served raw.

While there are a variety of recipes available for making the perfect home cooked meal, most follow a standard pattern of 50% human grade meat, with vegetables, oats, rice or potatoes.

In addition, vitamin and mineral supplements may be necessary to fully attend to your dogs nutritional demands. Homemade dog food allows you to give back to your hard working hunting buddy.

The food for hunting and performance dogs requires more attention to detail. They have a greater need for fats and calories in their diet, along with a careful balance of vitamins and minerals for optimum performance ability. Proper dog food nutrition is essential in the working dog.

Despite the advantage of control over the quality of ingredients in a homemade dog food diet, the added investment of time, money and research necessary to create a balanced diet is often not feasible.

By arming yourself with knowledge, and doing research on dog food ingredients, you can find a commercially available dog food that gives you both peace of mind, and will help your dog to get the nutrition he needs to live a long and happy life.

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