Most dog owners don’t even know what is contained in the food they feed their pups. The fact that you get it straight from the shelf doesn’t mean it is completely healthy for your pup, especially under certain circumstances. Today, we bring you the full knowledge about dog food ingredients.
We are going to explain to you the basic dog food ingredients all dog foods contain and their uses. We will also point out how much of each your pup needs at every developmental stage of his life.
Maybe after seeing how basic some of these dog food ingredients are, you can mix them up and come up with a special recipe for your pup.
Let’s dive right in.
Does My Dog Need A Balanced Diet?
Of course, he does. Just like in humans, dogs need all the classes of food to have a balanced diet. It is important to feed your dogs a balanced diet if you want to keep them healthy.
A balanced diet can prevent your dogs from the following medical conditions:
- Obesity– Excessive fat that becomes dangerous to the person.
- Diabetes– The inability to produce enough insulin to break down sugar.
- Pancreatitis– An inflammation of the pancreas that can be caused by excessive intake of calcium.
Now that you know how important a balanced diet is. What and what must be present before you can call a diet balanced?
Protein is the most important class of foods. It must be present in all the food given to your dog. Proteins are the building blocks of the immune system and growth.
If there is a deficiency of protein in your dog’s system, his immune system is weakened. A weakened immune system means that your dog cannot fight off certain diseases. He would be susceptible to even the smallest bacteria and viruses.
So, before you consider going for that “cheap” dog food on the counter that doesn’t contain sufficient protein, think forward to all the cost you would eventually pay your vet. And even aside from the money you’ll spend at the vet, nobody likes a sick dog. It causes you the parent, emotional stress.
Do not worry so much though, because proteins can be found from a number of sources. This makes it almost impossible that dog food would come without sufficient protein.
These protein sources include:
- Fresh Meat- Lamb, chicken, turkey, beef. These are a few examples of fresh meat that protein can be derived from. Lamb is the best source of protein in this category.
- “Meat” Meals– These are commercially made products. As the name implies, these types of food are made from meat. You can find things like “lamb meal” and “chicken meal”. We advise that these kinds be patronized instead of those that are simply labeled “meat meal”.
- By-Products- The parts of animals that humans do not eat can be beneficial to dogs. These parts are called by-products. They are processed, cooked and sterilized till they are deemed healthy for your pup. Then they are dried and used in meal products.
- Grains and Vegetables.
- Egg and milk.
Most of the time when people think carbs, they think overweight, they think fat. However, carbs are not just that. In fact, carbs provide the best source of energy.
For your dog to be able to carry out his daily metabolic activities, he needs energy. This energy is what is gotten from carb products.
Rice, bread, potatoes and so on might be the most popular but truth is, they are not the only sources of carbohydrates. Other sources of carbs include:
- Wheat etc.
Mineral And Vitamins
Because dogs have been domesticated, they cannot go out into the wild and find sources of vitamins and minerals for themselves. So, they depend on us to provide them with all they need.
Most of the minerals and vitamins in raw food are lost during industrial processing. So, oftentimes, once the food is done processing, manufacturers add vitamins and minerals supplements. However, sometimes this might not be a very good idea as some of this might be deficient or in excess for your pup.
If you feed your dog raw food, then you can skip this because most of the raw food already contains adequate amounts of vitamins.
However, if you buy commercial foods that do not add a premix (a premix is a mixture of vitamins and minerals added to food after it has been processed), then you should look into getting dog food supplements.
Contrary to popular belief, fats are not your enemy but your friend. However, anything done out of proportion becomes harmful and we can say the same for these guys.
If you’re one of those people that like “0 fat”, well, it might interest you know what fats are used for. Fats are useful for your dog in the following ways:
- Keeps the skin and hair healthy.
- They make the food taste better.
- Serve as an energy storage system in the body.
- They’re also a great alternative source of energy to carbs.
- The energy produced by fats is moderate and lasts for a longer time unlike the energy produced by carbs that come in a burst and last for a short period.
You can never over-exaggerate the importance of water. But on many occasions, dog owners tend to forget how important hydration is for their pups.
Water is a major component of a healthy body. It does the following functions in your dog:
- It helps transport necessary nutrients from one place to another inside the body.
- Water helps to cool your pup and to regulate body temperature.
- Water acts as the oil in the mechanism of the body. It makes all joints free and keeps them lubricated.
- Waste produced by the body is transported out by water as sweat and urine.
If your dog stays away from water for a really long time, dehydration is sure to set in. According to WebMD, dehydration is a medical condition that occurs as a result of a deficiency in water. It is when water in the body is not enough to perform what is required by the body. It can result in the shut down of major organs which after long periods can result in death.
Dog Food Ingredients That You Should Look Out For
Now you know that your pup absolutely needs a balanced diet. Here are a few dog food ingredients that you need to look out for when you want to get your pup a healthy/balanced diet:
Just as we mentioned, proteins are the most important class of food your dog needs. Therefore, you can understand why protein ingredients should be the first thing you look out for when buying commercial dog food.
There are animal proteins and plant proteins. However, it is advised to feed your dog animal proteins because they are healthier and a better source of protein. As such, we would only be focusing on animal protein.
Dog food ingredients containing proteins can be classified into 3 parts:
- Animal Fat: Fat from animal is a very good source of protein for your dogs. However, when you want to buy animal fat be sure to check that the label does not read “rendered fat”.
The FDA regulations allow “rendered fat” to be gotten from dead animals, animals that were not slaughtered and euthanized animals used in commercial produce.
This should already give you the basic idea that these are not as good as normal animal fat. More preferably, pick the ones that go on to name the animal from which the fat is gotten, e.g. “lamb fat”.
- Named Meats And Meals: Basically, the main idea is this, the more specified the ingredient is, the better it is for your dogs. Avoid generic names such as “meat for dogs”, “canned meat” and so on.
If the name of the animal isn’t provided on the pack, it’s not good enough. If you lack trust in the whole system, then just opt for buying the raw meat yourself.
Even when it comes to whole meals, a simple “meat meal” should not suffice. If it isn’t named as “lamb meal”, “chicken meal”, chances are that the meat they’re feeding your dog is bad.
Check For An AAFCO Seal
AAFCO is a voluntary organization whose main aim is to regulate all pet food and pet food ingredients sold on American soil. If it doesn’t have an AAFCO seal, it is not just bad, it is dangerous.
The money you save by saving your pup poison because it is cheap will eventually be used to settle the vet.
Dog Food Ingredients To Stay Clear From
Manufacturers would oftentimes add preservatives to their food. These preservatives ensure that their products stay fresh on the shelf for longer periods making them easier to sell.
Fun, Not So Fun Fact:
Some preservatives used as dog food ingredients have been removed from dog food because of health risks. One of these preservatives is the dangerous “ethoxyquin”.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are also very bad preservatives. While the former has been listed as a carcinogen, the latter has been known to cause problems in the liver.
According to Wikipedia, a carcinogen is basically any substance or radiation that causes the formation of cancer.
When it comes to proteins, the most reliable and healthy source is lean meat. Because manufacturers want to reduce costs, they sometimes add other sources of protein. A very good example of this is blood meat.
What do we mean by blood meat?
Well, blood meat is basically blood that is dried and powdered.
Why isn’t it good for dogs?
Because blood is basically life, it carries all the nutrients and also a whole lot of diseases. Some of these diseases can live through the processing of the blood and affect your dog negatively.
Most of the manufactured products we feed our dogs although carrying American company stamps are made in other countries. Most of these countries have little or no regulation policies to the processing of dog food.
Recently, heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium were found in traces in dog food that were produced in China.
These heavy metals can be really harmful to your dog if found in large quantities.
Yes, it is good to supplement dog food with vitamins and minerals. However, just like everything in the world, too much is bad. Some dog food ingredients are vitamin A and vitamin D. When either or both of these two are found in excess, they can be very harmful.
Excess intake of vitamin D will make your dog sick and cause the following health problems:
- The dog begins to urinate more frequently.
- Loss of appetite.
Yes, nutrients are good for your dog but make sure you regulate how much he takes. The easiest way to do this is by asking your vet how much he needs. When you get this information, feed him accordingly, using the measurements on the container of the food.
Other dog food ingredients you might want to add to your dog’s food are fruits and vegetables. They are a healthy source of carbs, proteins, and vitamins. They also provide a diet with a lot fewer calories.
The fiber they contain can also be very helpful and aid digestion. The fiber also helps to prevent constipation.
Basically, when it comes to dog food ingredients just remember:
- If it is named, it is better.
- If it is named but you don’t know what the name is, google it.
Have fun choosing the best dog food containing the best dog food ingredients.