Dog Food Ingredients

Most commercial pet food is made with ingredients you would not eat yourself. Although the foods are technically complete from a nutritional standpoint, the ingredients used are considered “feed grade” or “pet grade” because they don’t meet the same standards as foods sold to people.

Where the ingredients come from is just as important as what the ingredients are. Meat often comes from leftover animal parts and what is referred to in the industry as the three D’s; dead, dying, and diseased animals. Have you ever read “not fit for human consumption” on a pet food label, and wondered why it’s fit for your dog but not for you? Sadly, not enough attention is given to ingredients in most pet food and regulations are not as strict as one might imagine or hope. Marketing is a powerful tool for pet food companies who give us the impression they are using better ingredients than they actually are.

Here is a list of the common ingredients found in most commercial pet foods that we believe should be avoided:

Added preservatives, such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin: These allow food to remain shelf stable for as long as a year or more without refrigeration. These inhibit the growth of all bacteria in a dog’s system, including those required to digest and process nutrients. Many preservatives have been linked to immune deficiencies and cancers and can also decrease moisture in the digestive tract which may lead to intestinal blockage and other serious problems.

Animal fats preserved with tocopherols: Sprayed onto kibble, often in combination with flavorings, to make the food taste better to dogs. The fats are highly preserved to keep them shelf stable. Though these are usually safe, sensitive stomachs, diarrhea, gas, and bad breath are commonly linked to these kinds of fats.

Artificial colors: These produce carcinogenic substances known as nitrosamines that may increase dog’s sensitivities to certain viruses and have been linked to many cancers

Brewer’s Rice: This is the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort or beer. In other words, it is a by-product or waste of the beer industry.

Corn: Corn is often used as filler, has little nutrient value, and is one of the most common allergens found in dog food. Though many dogs can tolerate corn, it is hard on their digestive system, just as it is for humans.

Generic meat ingredients that do not indicate a species: This could read on the label as meat, meat byproducts, meat byproduct meal, meat meal, meat & bone meal, blood meal, fish, fish meal, poultry, poultry byproducts, poultry meal, poultry byproduct meal, liver, liver meal, glandular meal etc.

Meat by-products or poultry by-products: Produced from the remains of an animal carcass that does not contain meat. This can include brains, feet, blood, intestines, lungs, and partially defatted fatty tissue. These do not contain as much nutritional value or usable protein as meat, and are not fit for human consumption.

Propylene Glycol
: This is a preservative used in soft-moist dog food and treats. It has been linked to kidney failure in dogs, and is fatal for cats.

Soy: Soy is a plant protein that many dogs are allergic to and is also difficult for them to digest.

Wheat: Though most dogs do fine with wheat, many have allergic reactions to it. If your dog is prone to allergies it should be avoided. Whole grains are the best choice.

Take a look at this comparison chart of popular brands and judge for yourself which food looks the purest to you.


Food A:

Lamb Meal, Brewers Rice, Rice Flour, Ground Whole Grain Wheat, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Corn Gluten Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Animal Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Rosemary Extract.

(Science Diet, Lamb & Rice adult formula)


Food B:

Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Brewer’s Rice, Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Beet Pulp (sugar removed), Natural Chicken Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Brewer’s Dried Yeast, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Flax Meal, Apple Pomace, Dried Carrots, Dried Peas, Choline Chloride, Dried Spinach, Dried Tomato, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), L-Carnitine, Rosemary Extract

(Iams Healthy Naturals)


Food C:

Venison, Potato, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Chicken Meal, Fish Meal, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Beet Pulp, Potassium Chloride, Chicken Flavor, Brewers Dried Yeast, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), DL-Methionine, Calcium Carbonate, Rosemary Extract

(Eukanuba Naturally Wild)


Food D:

All-natural grass-fed beef, organic brown rice, organic sweet potatoes, organic pumpkin puree, all-natural beef liver, organic green beans, organic peas, organic bell peppers, organic rolled oats, organic oat bran, steamed bone meal, brewer’s dried yeast, Dolomitic Limestone, Cod Liver oil, dried kelp, ground whole flaxseed, sea salt, dried barley grass, garlic, almonds, Glucosomine Hydrochloride, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, dried Slippery Elm Bark, Wild Yam Root, dried rosemary, dried thyme, dried oregano

(The Good Dog Food Company)

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