Do You Know What’s In Your Dog’s Food?
Having a dog is like having a child. You love them like family, so naturally, you want the best for them. We understand that here at Waypoint Homes–which is why we’d like to teach you about dog nutrition! With a variety of dog food brands in the market, shopping at a pet food store can be overwhelming. We hope this helps narrow down your search.
Ingredients to avoid:
While corn sounds harmless for your pet – it actually is. Dogs only have intestines about the length of their bodies, making it very difficult for them to digest this food item. This can often result in bloating, obesity or upset stomachs in dogs. Many brands use it because it’s inexpensive. Unfortunately, it has very little nutritional value.
Bone meal or byproduct
These ingredients can be considered “mystery meat” and can be any body part from an animal, including but not limited to blood, hair, hooves, trimmings or stomach. With this ingredient, you’ll never know what you’re actually feeding your furry friend.
Wheat is a grain used in dog foods that, like bone meal & byproduct, is also a filler. Most dogs are actually allergic to wheat and gain no nutritional value from it. If your dog is itchy or excessively shedding, you may be seeing signs of a wheat allergy. Some healthy grains to look for as an alternative include barley, oats or brown rice (but not rice meal)!
Gluten or Corn Gluten Meal
This is the rubbery byproduct left over when making corn. Again, it has no nutritional value for dogs and is used as a filler.
Check the Label!
It’s also important to check the label on your pet food as well. The ingredients listed are in a specific order. Whichever ingredient is listed first is the most prevalent and the last ingredient is what there’s least of. Ideally, protein should be the first ingredient. However, this isn’t always the case, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad ingredient. The exception is made when you are looking for a “sensitive stomach” food. If your dog tends to get sick easily, you may want to find foods that have a carbohydrate listed first, followed by a protein.
Feel free to also check out Dog Food Advisor if unsure about any dog food. It breaks down all ingredients in most dog foods and gives a rating based on those ingredients. It also explains why a particular ingredient is unhealthy for your dog!
When To Go Grain Free
It is definitely a myth that grains are bad for dogs. Most dogs do really well on grains such as rice or barley. The best way to tell if your dog is allergic to grains is if they develop itchy paws and/or ears. Take a look in your dog’s ears and see if there are any sores or hives. If you see these symptoms, a grain free diet will likely help! Most grain free dog foods will say “grain free” in big bold letters on the front of the bag, however, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Double check the ingredients on the back. Potatoes or tapioca are common grain alternatives.
Additional Tips & Tricks
- If your dog has a sensitive stomach or is feeling sick one day, try adding pure canned pumpkin to your dog’s food or feed as a treat.
- Does your dog have dry skin? Salmon or another fish oil is great for this! Just make sure you don’t buy the human kind as citric acid is a common ingredient and this can be harmful for dogs. Many brands make a pump-style oil that can go directly on your dog’s food.
- Chicken can also cause dry skin; however, a chicken allergy is usually shown through “hot spots”. These spots are sores that dogs develop on their skin that gets very red, itchy and can bleed. If you see these on your dog, try switching to a non-poultry protein such as salmon or duck.
- Like humans, some dogs develop seasonal allergies. If you notice your doggy is sneezing or scratching their eyes frequently, you may want to try a dog vitamin. This comes in both pill or powder form.
- Protein is another area of the label you will want to take a look at. If your dog isn’t highly active, a lower protein will suffice. Giving your dog too much protein can result in vomit, diarrhea or obesity.
While we are focusing on dogs, the ingredients and tips discussed above are also ones to avoid with cats. These tips are great to keep in mind when buying treats for your pets, too!
Also, remember to keep an eye on the type of “people food” you have laying around the house, especially during the holiday season. Many foods we enjoy every day can be incredibly harmful to your dog. If you aren’t sure what these foods are, take a look at Dangerous Holiday Foods for Dogs.
We truly hope this brings your dog a healthier lifestyle. Being as careful about what you put in your dog’s mouth as you are with yours is essential to their life span and can ultimately save you trips to the vet as your pup ages!
Disclaimer: While these food options work for many dogs, they don’t always work for all dogs or solve every aforementioned health problem. In case of emergency or ongoing symptoms after diet change, please consult your veterinarian immediately.