Commercial Dog Food Ingredients Examined

Dog food ingredients can be confusing and misleading. Commercial dog food brands often market their products to make it seem like they contain fresh and all-natural ingredients like meat and grains.

Not-So-Natural Sources

n reality, meat by-products and beef and bone meal are often the main protein sources, and grains like wheat and corn make up most of the dog food ingredients, though often under a variety of names:

  • Corn meal
  • Corn cellulose
  • Corn bran
  • Wheat flour
  • Wheat bran

These are fillers; they offer little nutritional value. Instead of buying good food containing these ingredients, look for whole grains and starches like barley or brown rice (not brewer's rice) and whole vegetables (rather than processed vegetables) to obtain a source of healthy carbohydrates.

Look for Specific, not Generic, Ingredients

Meat by-products and meat and bone meals should never be listed as the first ingredients in dog food. Instead, choose dog food with quality meat sources like chicken, beef, lamb, turkey or venison, or meals with an actual meat name, like chicken meal or lamb meal, rather than just the generic and unspecific "poultry meal". Similarly, oils and fats should be from a known source like lamb fat or sunflower oil, rather than simply animal fat, lard, or vegetable oil.

Avoid Preservatives

There are a large number of preservatives in commercial dog food ingredients. Look out for synthetic BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, propylene glycol and ethoxyquin. Also, food colorings, sweeteners and unidentified flavor sources should never be in your dog food ingredients. These include animal or poultry digest, fructose, corn syrup, sugar and sorbitol.