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5 Commercial Dog Food Ingredients to Avoid

I don’t know about your dogs, but feeding time is pretty much Lady and Darby’s favorite time of day. Or at the very least, it’s tied with walk time. And when I come home from work. And playtime. Okay, they’re enthusiasts for life, what can I say? But they are definitely big fans of food, and a doggie’s diet is tied to their long-term health, just like with humans. So in order to ensure that my pups continue to enjoy their lives so fully, I did some investigation into their commercial food.


To start, I looked carefully at the first three ingredients listed. Often, these make up 90% of the food. Ideally, the first two should be sources of protein, and you shouldn’t find a grain at number one or even number two. Pups are carnivores, so they need lots of protein! Often, manufacturers use grains as a cheap filler, which doesn’t provide your dog with the nutrition she needs.

Here are a few things you should avoid in your commercial dog food:

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From the Organic Authority Files

  1. Generic terms such as poultry or fish – You can’t be sure what the source of the meat is. Instead, look for specific sources of protein, such as beef, chicken, lamb, rabbit, salmon, turkey and venison.
  2. Animal fat – Another generic term. In the past, manufacturers admitted to using rendered dog and cat in their food! This practice no long occurs, but using the term “animal fat” allows manufacturers to include lower priced ingredients, often to your pet’s detriment.
  3. By-products – Basically, this is all the stuff that humans won’t eat, such as heads, feet, bones, blood, intestines, lungs, spleens, livers, ligaments, and fat trimmings. The nutritional quality of by-products varies widely, and these are the same ingredients used in fertilizer, industrial lubricants, soap, and rubber. Your pet deserves better!
  4. Corn, soy, and wheat – Not only are they not as nutritious as whole grains, but they are also common dog allergens. If your dog suffers from skin irritations, switching foods is often a big help or even the solution. You’ll also want to avoid other processed grains, such as wheat gluten, gluten, rice flour, and wheat flour. Instead, look for whole grains such as brown rice, barley, and oatmeal.
  5. Sneaky marketing – Even with words like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ in the product’s name, the food can be anything but. If you’d like to be sure your pet’s food is organic, verify that it has been certified as organic by the USDA.

Feeling overwhelmed? There are many websites that can help you evaluate your dog’s food, such as Dog Food Advisor. They provide a detailed explanation behind the ratings they give, so you can feel confident that you are feeding your dog good food.

Photo Credit – Mr. T in DC

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