What type of dog food do you feed your dog? If your answer is ‘just some generic brand that you found at the local grocer’, then you definitely need to continue reading. Dogs require certain nutrition, and if they don’t get it, it can be detrimental to their health. This is why it is not recommended to feed your dog table scraps of human food. Human food is not formulated to contain the adequate amounts of nutrition that a dog requires in order to be healthy and balanced. That doesn’t mean that all of the dog foods on the market are made equally.
When you buy your dog’s food, do you ever stop to take a look at the label? If not, then you may be doing your dog a big injustice. Knowing and understanding the ingredients that are included in your dog’s food is very important. After all, you wouldn’t eat something if you weren’t sure what it was made up of. The problem is, many pet owners just don’t know what to look for on the label. Sure, you need to take a look at nutritional values, but what about the ingredients list? What do you make of it once you read it?
Dog Food Ingredients
One question that we are often asked is, ‘how do you read the ingredients list?’ Basically it reads much like the ingredients list on regular food packaged for human beings. If you don’t know anything about reading labels, then this doesn’t tell you a whole lot. The good news is that we are here to help you gain a better understanding of it. Here are a few tips that will help you out:
Now that you know a bit more about how to read the label, and the importance of doing so, here are the ten must have dog food ingredients that you will want to look for:
#1 – Protein
The number one ingredient found in your dog’s food should undoubtedly be a protein source. Protein comes in a variety of ways. Some pets eat a vegetarian diet, but still get the protein that they need. It doesn’t have to come from animals, although that is the most common source. Some commercial foods are made up of meat, or meat meal, which gives it the protein. Other foods may have other sources of protein, including eggs, fish, corn or wheat. No matter what, your dog cannot function without protein, so make sure that it is in abundance in their diet.
#2 – Carbohydrates
Carbs are also really important, because they help to give your dog energy. Some people focus solely on the protein and fat contents of their pet food, but it is worth looking into the carbohydrates as well. You will find that an optimal pet food contains around 30% carbohydrates, give or take. While a chunk of your dog’s energy should come from protein sources, carbs shouldn’t be discredited. Carbohydrates come in a variety of different forms in your dog’s food. Most often, you will see it in the form of beans, rice, soy, oats, barley or corn.
#3 – Veggies
So, you wonder why veggies are an important ingredient in dog food? Sure, veggies are really not a part of a dog’s natural, instinctive diet, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t good for them. Most dog foods have added ingredients, other than meats, and veggies are a great way to add in vitamins and minerals to your pet’s diet. There are, however, certain veggies that are not safe for pups. These include garlic, onions and mushrooms, and are very toxic for dogs. Other veggies, including sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and kale, can be very nutritious, and a great added bonus to your pet’s daily dietary intake.
#4 – Fruits
Fruits are just as important as veggies when it comes to the food that you feed your dog. Fruits may not be a part of a dog’s instinctive diet, but there are certain fruits, including blueberries and apples, that give your pet dietary fiber and antioxidants. These nutrients improve digestion, and fight free radicals. Some foods even have super fruits, like avocados! Just remember that there are certain fruits that are not suitable for dogs, including grapes and cherries. They are actually poisonous to dogs, so it is likely you won’t find them in any high quality, premium dog food.
#5 – Fat
Okay, so fat could actually be good for your pup? Fat sometimes has a bad reputation, but there are actually good fats out there. Fatty acids help to improve your pet’s health in a variety of ways. They not only help to encourage optimal vitamin absorption, but they also help to keep your dog’s coat shiny and healthy. Commonly, fats will be found in dog food in the form of chicken or pork fat, vegetable oil, fish oil, or other type of healthy oil. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are the best for your pup’s health.
#6 – Vitamins
Vitamins are important for your pet if you want them to remain healthy. They boost their metabolism, and also help to ensure that your pet has healthy digestive and immune systems. Vitamin B is one of the most important vitamins for your pup. Great sources include pyridoxine, thiamin, beta carotene, biotin, and riboflavin. Vitamins A & E are also important, as they are essential for their immune system and their skin and coat. If your dog is lacking in vitamins, then they are lacking in their overall health. This is something that you must keep in mind as you look for a great premium diet for your pup.
#7 – Minerals
A dog’s natural diet contains a lot of natural minerals, and they are essential when it comes to their overall health and wellness. Minerals can help to coordinate body functions, improve muscle function, bone health and even boost the health of their skin and coat. Most minerals in dog food can be found in healthy grains, fruits, veggies and meats. A few of the minerals that are needed in larger amounts include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and sulfur. Check your dog food label to see the daily percentages of minerals included in their diet. You may be surprised to find that they aren’t getting enough.
#8 – Natural Preservatives
Some people think that preservatives are a bad thing, but that is a common misconception. What you don’t want to find in your dog food is artificial preservatives. Natural preservatives are actually a critical ingredient. If you are looking at your pet food label, then look for preservatives such as ascorbic acid or tocopherols. These preservatives help to lock in the taste of the food, and keep it fresher for longer. Some of the natural preservatives are even a great source of Vitamin E, which is an added bonus. So, for the record, not all preservatives are bad. Don’t forget it!
#9 – Water
Water is critical for your pet’s diet, just as it is critical for a human’s diet. Most of the pet foods on the market will contain a high percentage of moisture content, but that doesn’t mean that it is enough water for your pet. It is important to keep fresh water available for them at all times. Remember that canned food will contain more moisture, but dry kibbles are also important for your pet because they help to clean their teeth and keep their gums healthy. If you are going to feed them canned food, do so sparingly, as a supplement to kibbles.
#10 – Grains
We already covered carbohydrates, which includes grains, but we think that it is important to have a section devoted entirely to grains. Grains are important, because they can help to improve your dog’s digestion. They are also an excellent source of expendable energy. So, what is it about grains that gives it a bad reputation? The truth is, there are some dogs that have sensitivities to grains. This is why there are grain-free formulas, which contain other forms of carbohydrates. If your dog is sensitive to grains, it could be due to an allergy. Keep this in mind as you shop for your pet’s food.