Is This Food Safe for Dogs? The Blacklist of Unsafe Foods

In the recent wake of pet food recalls, dog lovers may be left wondering what foods are safe for dogs. All of the commercial food for dogs included in the recalls bore the AAFCO (Association Of American Feed Control Officials) certification seal, so many dog owners switched to organic commercial brands, homemade diets or raw food regimens.

Commercial Pet Food Dangers

The pet food recalls alerted dog lovers to the potentially harmful ingredients found in many commercial pet foods.

  • Bone meal and by-products may contain unhealthy levels of fluoride. Recent studies have found levels as high as 2.5 times the recommended levels for safe drinking water.
  • Corn, wheat and soy are common allergens. A healthy food will contain rice as the primary grain.

How To Buy Top Quality, Safe Dog Food

  • The first item on the list of ingredients should be a named meat like chicken or lamb. Some good quality foods contain chicken meal as the primary ingredient.
  • Look for healthy preservatives like vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) or C. Avoid foods that contain chemical preservatives ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT or Propyl Gallate, which have been indicated in many health problems, including cancer.
  • Buy dog food in a quantity you will use within a month. Store properly to avoid spoilage.
  • Consider freeze-dried foods. Fresh ingredients are prepared and the moisture removed. The food is then specially packaged for long-term storage. When you are ready to use the food, simply add water.

Raw Food Diets

A raw meat diet supplemented by grains, vegetables, fruits and certain enzymes and vitamins is a healthy choice for your dog. Dogs have an acidic stomach environment, and bacteria that are harmful to humans are not harmful to them. There are prepared, frozen raw food diets available that make this healthy choice more convenient.

Homemade Diets: Avoid Allergens and Toxins

A homemade diet, whether raw or cooked, can be a good choice for your dog. A well-balanced mix of chicken or beef combined with brown rice, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, carrots and squash will meet his nutritional needs. Other healthy ingredients that you can use include oatmeal, millet, cottage cheese and kidney beans.

There are several food items that should not be included in a dog's diet. These include:

  • Grapes
  • Avocado
  • Raisins
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raw fish
  • Cooked bones

Add Essential Calcium: Bones for Dogs

The easiest way to add needed calcium to your dog's diet is with raw bones. Avoid poultry, fish or pork bones, opting instead for meaty beef bones. Knuckle bones are somewhat soft and usually retain some tendon and muscle meat fragments. These bones will delight your dog and provide calcium while cleaning his teeth at the same time.

If you have any questions, or if your dog has special dietary needs due to an ongoing health issue, a veterinary nutritionist can help you design a diet for your dog.

Be alert to any signs of allergy or illness in your dog. A occasional bout of diarrhea or vomiting is common in dogs, but if symptoms persist or worsen, contact your veterinarian.