If you love your dog, and chances are you do since you want to be a responsible pet parent and offer him or her the best in every way, you want to know that what you’re feeding your pooch is healthy.
There are many alternatives when it comes to top rated natural dog food, but even the one that is marketed as being organic or natural isn’t really that. In fact, we might argue that the best food to feed your Fido is the one you can make at home.
Let’s look at some of the ingredients that you might not be aware of and that are commonly found in commercial dog food varieties nowadays.
Food dye is used both in processed meats marketed to humans but also in the kibble you could feed your dog. If you’ve ever cooked a steak or made a stew, you probably know that meat tends to turn grey or brown after it’s been thermally processed. Just like bologna can be red (and that’s pretty unnatural unless it’s of the ‘crudo’ variety and the blood from the meat hasn’t been removed), your dog’s dry food can also be red, yellow, or even green.
Well, you might want to know that the kibble that contains Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 dyes can cause cancer. Red 3 is another well-known carcinogenic addition, so you’d better read everything on the label before deciding that that particular food is a good option for your pooch.
Whenever you see ‘by-product’ or ‘chicken meal’ written on any type of dog food, you should be wary of that meat’s provenance. The fact is that your dog’s kibble might never get to contain even 1% of chicken breast or thigh meat because most dog food manufacturers will process the remains from the animals – not the meat itself.
This includes internal organs (which are actually better than the rest we’ll note here), but also the heads, feet, blood, ligaments, fat, unborn babies, as well as a variety of products that result from the farming processes – including animal feed and fertilizer.
There have been cases where manufacturing companies have had to be checked by the FDA to see whether their food contained traces of phenobarbital, a substance used for euthanasia in cats and dogs to check whether these brands used corpses of pets as ‘ingredients’, too. You’d better believe it – the FDA has found traces of phenobarbital in some dog foods.
Corn and corn gluten meal
Dogs aren’t meant to consume corn, and cats aren’t either (especially since the latter are pure carnivores, so they shouldn’t be fed anything other than protein). Corn is a great ‘filler’, which means that since it is cheap, it can take up a lot of ‘room’ in the dog food and therefore eliminate the need to add a lot of protein from meat and other sources.
However, the problem with corn is that it can cause acid buildup and ulcers, which can deteriorate your dog’s intestinal lining, therefore causing bloating and gas over time. This obviously can happen especially in cats, since they aren’t genetically made to digest corn, but it can also occur in dogs.
It’s not like these two types of pets can even compare to cattle, which are capable of digesting corn and for which it’s actually a beneficial food since it supplies them with some of the nutrients they need.
What about corn gluten meal? This is a cheap way of boosting the protein content of any dry dog food, and it is also capable of absorbing some of the potential toxins that can be found in contaminated food sources.
However, the vast majority of the corn gluten meal is made in China, which is not a good sign, and the fact that it is capable of killing weeds should make you wary of using a food that contains it to feed your dog.
Keeping dry food more or less moist can be a nuisance, and many manufacturing companies seem to have found the solution – they use this substance. However, it is capable of killing red blood cells in cats, which means that it is not a good choice for them. Unfortunately, propylene glycol is synonymous with antifreeze, and we all know that antifreeze is toxic for any type of mammal.
Whether it’s a human that has ingested some or a dog, the fact is that antifreeze causes renal failure (and death) and it shouldn’t be used in any type of food. And feeding your dog small doses of it every day is obviously toxic.
So, what can you do?
The problem with all of the ingredients we’ve highlighted above is that many food brands contain them, and it can be very difficult for you to tell which one is actually healthy for your pooch.
You can start by reading the label attentively. If any dog food contains artificial dye, it’s better to steer clear of it. It’s almost impossible to avoid purchasing a brand that contains meat by-products, and that’s because almost every manufacturing brand contains it.
There are some wet varieties you can go for (canned) that are made by small companies that started out like dog parents just like you. These will usually contain good ingredients like pumpkin and other fiber sources (not corn) and a good helping of actual meat, although since it is expensive, the percentage might be a little low.
Make some of your dog’s food at home
You’re in luck if you’re a dog parent, and that’s because the Internet can help you make a host of delicious homemade recipes for your dog with as little processed ingredients as possible. There are dog owners that feed their Fidos only raw diets, but many veterinarians advise against it because of the risks associated with consuming raw meat, not for any other reason.
Dogs are partial omnivores, so you can make your pooch food like brown rice with meat, or maybe chickpea pasta or sweet potato with meat, and many others like this. Add a good helping of veggies, because they are allowed to eat pumpkins, carrots, cucumbers, and even cabbage but we don’t recommend it if you want to avoid bloating issues.
It might look like a bit of a nuisance, but it doesn’t take all that much time and it can even be less expensive than the kibble you buy at the store. Plus, there’s a benefit you get – you finally know what’s in your dog’s food. If you have no time to cook all the food for your canine buddy, you can do a mix of homemade food with some of the natural canned varieties we mentioned earlier on (look for Halo and Nummy Tum Tum, for example).