Have you ever tried to read the ingredient list on your dog’s food label? If you do not recognize the first 10 ingredients, or you see the words, “byproducts” you have some issues in nutrition for dogs that need addressing. Often, well-meaning dog owners think they are meeting their dog’s nutritional needs because the bag or can of food says it is “nutritionally complete.” However, understanding dog nutrition is not just important to keep your dog healthy, but it cuts down on your trips to the veterinarian, which can be costly.
Understanding the dog food label can seem overwhelming, but there are a few areas to keep in mind, which include everything before and including the first fat you see listed is the main ingredients in the food. Therefore, if you see the list of food as Corn, Corn Gluten, Poultry By-Products, Chicken Fat, the food’s main ingredients are corn, poultry by-products and chicken fat, which means the dog’s protein is coming from corn, which is a cheap grain that many dogs cannot digest or that can have allergic reactions to. Corn gluten is added to some dog foods to up the overall protein level listed on the bag, but it is still a grain.
Dogs thrive on meat products, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and beef, if you give a dog a choice of a bowl of corn or chicken to eat, you know which one your dog will devour. By having a dog on a daily diet of high grains and little meat, the health effects can be devastating including obesity, arthritis, and a whole host of other diseases. In addition, when you see the word, “byproducts” of a meat on the label, this means it can be feathers, hooves, and even dead and sick cows, chickens, or turkeys that have been added to the dog food. Therefore, the ingredient list needs to be clear of the word “byproducts”.
The best way to know you are giving your dog the nutrition he or she needs is by choosing a brand that includes a named meat product in meal form and whole meat form as the first two ingredients. For instance, chicken meal, and chicken meat would be a good start. Chicken meal is dehydrated chicken, so that all the water has been removed and what is left is just the chicken, which, when listed as a first ingredient truly will be the first ingredient.
There should be as few of grains as possible and can be rice or barley, but stay away from corn for the most part. Make sure that the first 10 ingredients on the bag of food are something that you recognize because if you do not know what it is, then how can you be sure you are giving your dog a healthy diet? Therefore, when you know what is in your dog’s food, you can provide the nutrition needed for a long and healthy life. When a dog is nutritionally well, he or she makes fewer trips to the veterinarian for illnesses than dogs that are fed low-quality diets. The bottom line to pet nutrition is always to read the label of the food and see the list of ingredients for yourself.