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Dog Food – The Truth About What's In The Bag

Updated on October 17, 2011

We are very trusting consumers and usually believe that if products were really dangerous they wouldn't be allowed on our shelves. Consequently, most of us don't know what is really in the commercial food we give our dogs; we certainly wouldn't expect this food to actually be unhealthy to our pets. Yet this is often the case. Commercial dog food contains ingredients that make it filling, increase flavor, and add color. Much of the time these companies are trying to make food pleasing to people - not pets. None of these ingredients contain nutritional benefits, however many of them are harmful! Have you ever seen your dog beg for a bag of flour or dried cornmeal? That is because dogs are carnivores and they eat meat.

It is easy to be misled about the quality of packaged dog food when we don't know what the words or numbers listed in the ingredients mean. It is important to become educated about what we are actually putting into our beloved pets. We can't even assume that food sold by veterinarians is free of harmful ingredients. Dog food sold by vets can be as indigestible as products sold in supermarkets.

A common ingredient in commercial dog food is called "meat by-product". Meat by-product refers to animal parts that are not actually meat and can in fact be anything. It often includes intestines, bones, brain, stomach, lungs, kidneys, spleen, liver and animal blood. While individually, some of these elements of meat by-product are not harmful, they are not as healthy as proper meat and can sometimes make your pet sick if they have come from a diseased animal.

Meat you absolutely have to avoid is known as "4-D" meat. "4-D" meats comprise the meat of animals that are killed while already dying, dead, diseased or disabled. Even worse (if that is even possible) 4-D meat can actually be from a euthanized dog. Cannibalism can make animals very sick. Remember that Mad Cow Disease was originally caused because cows were fed the ground brains of other cows. If you have to give your dog commercially prepared dog food, make sure there are no 4-D meats in the ingredients and preferably no meat by-products.

Preservatives are also dangerous additives to packaged dog foods. They are added for a number of different reasons including extending shelf life, improve taste, and keep canned dog food moist. However, it is important to remember that preservatives are chemicals that can be toxic to your dog. Common preservatives include BHT, BHA, and Ethoxyquin which is commonly used as a pesticide. Remember that your pet eats the same food every single day and cannot get the variety of nutrients, or a chance to cleanse these poisons if you continue to feed him chemicals.

It takes some effort to make sure that the food you are feeding your dog is healthy and not harmful. It is actually easier to create a healthy diet for your pet yourself rather than constantly be monitoring what manufacturers may be putting into their packaged foods. A healthy dog does well on raw foods and there are many books and guides available on how to create a healthy diet for your pet. You can also find some excellent dog food recipes online so you can make nutritional and tasty meals for your dog at home. Even if you don't like to cook for yourself, there are now human grade pet mixes you can buy are easy to prepare and great for your pet.

By far the easiest way to guard your dog against toxins in foods is to make his food yourself. It is easier and less expensive that canned food and your dog will love it!


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      Marilyn Shapiro 6 years ago

      I have just begun producing made-to-order, natural, kosher dog food. I would be happy to send you a copy of my Press Release. Please visit my website at Call me at 401-486-9578 or email me at

      Thank you,

      Marilyn Shapiro

    • ArtCantHurtU profile image

      ArtCantHurtU 9 years ago

      Thank you so much, I love the dogs in my life and I want them to be happy and healthy- for a long time!

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      Liz Tufte 9 years ago

      Excellent article! Thanks for helping to spread the word about the importance of good canine nutrition!