Researching the best food for your furry friend is a daunting task with seemingly endless options to choose from. Here’s five things to look out for when you compare dog food:
How it’s processed
Many big brands of dry dog kibble are processed using hot extrusion. This means that the food is put under extreme heat and pressure that can decrease the natural vitamins and minerals that are present in the raw ingredients. This leads to a less nutritious meal for your furry friend and potential health problems down the road due to nutrient deficiency. This can be avoided by looking into dry dog foods that are gently air dried to dehydrate the food low and slow to preserve nutrients and flavor while killing germs. This process gives food the benefits of both raw and home-cooked meals in an easy dry food option. If health and simplicity are important factors for you, definitely choose a food that is air dried.
What standard the ingredients are held to
Food grade and feed grade are two very different things when it comes to determining the quality for your dog food. Many feed grade products use subpar feed grade ingredients like chicken byproduct meal and include additives to supplement nutritional elements that aren’t present. When looking for the best dog food, look for a brand that is made in a USDA-monitored kitchen that uses only human grade ingredients and processing methods. Although you likely won’t want to eat your dog’s food, it’s good to know that it’s held to a higher FDA standard and is safe for you to consume.
Is the food all natural?
Did you know that the average dry kibble contains on average about 30 synthetic additives? The synthetic vitamins and minerals added to many brands of kibble are only necessary because the ingredients and processing methods significantly decrease the nutritional value of the food. A top of the line dog food contains zero synthetic vitamins or minerals. Instead, all the nutrients your dog needs are present in the food entirely from natural sources. You should be able to recognize all of the ingredients that are in your dog’s food. Green flag ingredients to seek out are USDA Beef, Pumpkin, Kale, Zucchini, Sea Salt, Parsely, Turmeric, Ginger, Blueberries, Carrots, Apples, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Oranges, and other fruits or veggies. Here’s a list of some popular synthetic additives to avoid: potassium chloride, salt sodium hexametaphosphate, calcium carbonate, fructooligosaccharides, choline chloride, vitamin e supplement, Dl-methionine, L-lysine monohydrochloride, vitamin b12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin d3 supplement, folic acid, L-carnitine, and citric acid.
Sometimes, popular grain-free dog food brands include what are called “anti-nutrients” in their ingredient lists that can interfere with your dog’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. This can lead to increased risk of diseases and death over time. Legumes have been the most implicated source of anti-nutrients, which include peas, chickpeas, lentils, beans, tapioca, and soy. Grain-free was always, at best, a silly marketing fad. In fact, only one percent of all dogs have a known grain allergy and dogs have a special enzyme in their stomachs specially designed to digest grain. Wolves lack this enzyme, but scientists hypothesize that dogs evolved this way after living alongside grain-eating humans for thousands of years.
When looking for a high quality dry dog food, stay away from ingredients like potatoes, peas, lentils, chickpeas, rice, soy or gluten. These cheap starches are necessary to make kibble, but they are not needed in the gentle air-drying process that kills germs and retains higher levels of nutrients. Some grain free dog food formulas are under investigation by the FDA due to an alleged link to a potentially fatal heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Although only a correlation and no causation has been proven, the increase in the use of anti-nutrient-dense foods combined with the increased frequency of DCM is concerning. It’s better to choose a food that includes grain
Steer clear of sketchy ingredients
Do not consider purchasing a dog food that has any of the following sketchy ingredients: chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain corn, brewers rice, dried beet pulp, natural flavor, dried brewers yeast, caramel color, dried apple pomace, and dried blueberry pomace. The nutritional value of the listed ingredients cannot be proven and they’re likely added as fillers that take the place of grains in grain free formulations. A dog food that contains ingredients that you’ve heard of will be best for your furry friend. These known ingredients also provide your dog with the utmost nutrition naturally without the need for additives. To name a few, quinoa is packed with fiber, amino acids, cancer-fighting antioxidants, and loads of vital vitamins and minerals, wild salmon oil provides a fantastic, natural source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty acids, which are great for your dog’s coat and cognitive function, zucchini is an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C, and magnesium, and beets are a veritable super food that offer fiber, folate, vitamin C, nitrates and special pigments that can help lower blood pressure in humans.