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Best Nutrition for Dogs

Updated on September 2, 2012

What are Dog Food Labels Saying?

Choosing The Right Dog Food and Dog Treats

It is important to read ingredients on the dog food and dog snacks you give your canine companion

Choosing the best dog treats for your lovable pet is one of the best decisions you can make for your canine companion. Here is a concise way to learn what to look for among the dog food treats you choose from.

What organic, natural, and holistic labels mean for dog food.

We all want our dogs to live long and healthy lives. One of the best things we can do for our pets is to feed them as nutritiously as possible. All dog food and dog treats are not the same. There are tremendous ingredient differences that can make an impact on the long term effect of your dog’s health. Gain knowledge about what ingredients may be harmful and what ingredients offer the most nutrition.

What do those dog food ingredients mean?


Reading Dog food labels is important

Holistic or natural dog food treats are gaining in popularity.   Whether you are picking dog snacks or dog food, it is important to be aware of what the different ingredients mean.  When using the word holistic in referring dog food, it tends to mean that it is good for the whole body. Organic according the United States federal organic legislation and similarly in the EU includes 3 categories:

1.   if the item is made with “certified organic ” products and the processes can be labeled 100% organic and can use the USDA organic seal

2.   If the dog food treats are made with 95% organic products it can be labeled with the USDA organic seal

3.   If the pet food contains at least 70% organic ingredients, the label can state “made with organic ingredients

·         dog food that is manufactured with less than 70% organic products is not considered organic and cannot be labeled as organic or advertised to buyers as organic.  Only in the ingredient label can this be mentioned.

Natural pet food is defined by AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials)  as dog and animal food where the ingredients come only from “plant, animal or mined sources” that could be changed through the process of manufacturing the dog food.  As long as the product has not gone through a “chemically  synthetic  process”.  It also needs to be free of synthetic additives and preservatives.

Additives are added to pet food and pet treats for many reasons.  They offer no nutritional benefits. Their main purpose is to make the pet food look better to people who buy them.  Dogs can’t see color.  Artificial colors are not needed to be added by the manufacturer.  They put it into the pet food to increase purchases. Artificial flavors are added to enhance the flavor of the dog food.  Emulsifiers keep the water and fat from separating.  Antioxidants stop the fat from spoiling. Treats that are semi moist have more additives and preservatives than the drier type of snacks. All of these additives and preservatives are designed to help the pet foods to have a longer shelf life in the stores where we purchase them.  Canned dog food has less preservatives than dry dog foods because canning helps preserve food better.

A common preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and  ethoxyquin are  often used artificial preservatives to preserve the fat in dog foods. Ethoxyquin stays in a dog’s system for months.  Some pet food products use natural preservatives such as vitamin “C”( ascorbic acid)  and vitamin “E” (tocopherols) as a substitute to ethoxyquin.  A product can state that they did not add preservatives, but some of the ingredients could come from the supplier with the preservatives in it already.  It is just that the manufacturer themselves did not add preservatives. In addition to vitamin E and Vitamin C, other healthy alternative preservatives include: rosemary, clove, and sage as a way to keep the dog food and dog treats from getting spoiled.

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Talk to your Veterinarian to Learn More About Dog Food Choices

Reading labels is an important part in taking care of your pet dog. Try to avoid harmful ingredients. All manufacturers must abide by guidelines of labels.  Ingredients on any food labels, for  people and pet food, is listed in order of greatest weight. There are legal terms for the ingredients, as an example, when meat is listed it can only refer to cows, pigs, goats, and sheep, and only certain muscle tissues, according to AAFCO.

Dogs do well when meat is included in their diet.  Generally the pet food that is made of the meat products people do not consume is labeled as meat-by -products.  There is no guarantee with meat-by-products, that these ingredients adequate nutritional value.  The vast majority of meat and meat-by-products come from cows and pigs. More natural brands of dog snacks will not use meat-by-products, although the meat they use is still the leftover scraps.   Meat meal is also not a desirable ingredient, as the rendering (boiling at high temperatures) can destroy the natural enzymes and proteins.

Vegetable proteins are plant products that also provide little nutritional value.Dog food and dog treats also contain a large amount of salt and sugar in the pet food products.  You might see these products called corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, sodium chloride, and monosodium glutamate (msg).  These products have many detrimental effects including causing a rise in blood pressure and blood sugar.

When it comes to choosing the right dog food and dog snack, be alert. Try to be aware of the marketing techniques the manufacturers may be using to persuade you to buy their product.  You know your dog, try to match a product to your dog’s age, health needs, and activity level.  Try to make dog food and dog snack choices that offer as much nutritional value as possible. Talk to your veterinarian about their dog treat preferences.  Let your vet educate you on what you need to do to give your dog the best nutrition you can. The more you know, the better you can make the right choices for your dog.  And you know your furry, lovable friend will always thank you for what you do for them.  Educate yourself and help keep your dog healthy and happy.

Dog food and Your Lovable Canine

How would you like to see dog food ingredients improve?

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    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      The more we know the better we can make good decisions. After all, we can't just take the manufacturer's word for it.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very informative hub ! It is always good to read what is in your dog's dog food. enjoy reading this hub !

    • oliversmum profile image

      oliversmum 7 years ago from australia

      Toknowinfo. Hi. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this hub on choosing the right food for our Pets, it has such wonderful information.

      Oliver has mainly home cooked food, with added natural bran, and Organic bones as a treat.

      Thanks for sharing this great hub with us. rated up. :) :)