What's In My Dog's Food?
How To Read Nutritional Labels for Dog Food
The commercials that are shown on TV regarding dog food ingredients will frighten you. They are meant to do that as most buying decisions are based on emotions, whether that emotion is a desire to look younger and more beautiful, or fear of giving your dog something to eat that is entirely unhealthy. Let's face it, city dogs eat much better than many of their country-dwelling counterparts. Country dogs often eat the scraps from the master's table as well as wild game caught and dragged home to be eaten (raw) at Rex's leisure. It is also funny to frighten the mistress with the leftover carcass.
Before you make a decision what to feed your dog based on worry caused by a TV ad, make an informed decision to feed your dog what he'll eat, what is best for him at this stage of his life, and what's in your budget.
Read the dog food label. Many times, the ingredients on the dog food label look intimidating but a few minutes performing an internet search will explain what those intimidating ingredients really are. For instance:
- Tocopherols - This is Vitamin E. It is used as a preservative in dog food, human food, and in many cosmetics.
- By-product meal - The parts leftover following processing chicken or beef for human consumption, usually internal organs and bones that most American humans won't eat.
- Potassium Chloride - a metal halide salt used in food processing, fertilizer, medications, and as a sodium-free table salt.
Also, know how to read the nutrition labels. Ingredients are listed in order of amounts used, from greater to lesser, giving you some idea of how much of one ingredient may be used. If you see wheat, barley, corn and rice or potatoes used in the same formula, you may be giving your dog more carbohydrates than exercise. If your dog is overweight, you may want to avoid a formula containing too many carbs.
Colorants are totally unnecessary and neither add to the flavor nor enrich the goodness of the content. These are used at a minimum and are not known to cause issues but it may be in your dog's best interest to purchase kibble that doesn't contain them.
Preservatives are very necessary unless you purchase dog food in very small quantities that are vacuum sealed and/or refrigerated. The natural oils found in many whole grains will go rancid after several days even if kept in a cool, dry place. There are very few inexpensive natural preservatives so be prepared to either make your own dog food or pay dearly for dog food with natural preservatives.
Rule of thumb: Feed your dog what is prescribed by your veterinarian and is well-liked and tolerated by your dog. Don't let dog food manufacturers scare you into feeding your dog any old thing but certainly don't let them frighten you into thinking you're not feeding your dog well enough.