Go to any grocery, feed or pet store and you’ll come across dozens of dog food brands and flavors in a wide range of prices. You want to get food that will keep your dog healthy and energetic, but you also don’t want to break the bank. Expensive isn’t always best — find the healthiest dog food by taking a look at the ingredients list.
Ingredients in the Healthiest Dog Food Types
If you’ve ever left food within your dog’s reach, you probably know that he can ingest a lot of different foods. But just because your dog can eat it doesn’t mean he should. Dogs need protein and vegetables in their diet, and some suggest the best ratio is half veggies and half meat.
The best dog foods will have some type of meat meal as the first ingredient. However, be wary if the ingredients don’t specify what kind of meat meal is used. Slate reported earlier this year that euthanized dogs, cats and even zoo animals can make it into dog food, so look for “chicken meal” or “beef meal” instead of just generic “meat meal.”
Grains are used primarily as fillers, so look for dog food without many fillers. Some grains can be beneficial, like brown rice, rolled oats, barley, quinoa and millet, but most others are just cheap fillers. You’ll notice the foods with fillers are much cheaper than those without or with only some. Consider it this way: dogs will generally eat less at a time (and poop less later!) if the food isn’t stuffed with fillers, so comparing the cost 1:1 isn’t exact.
For healthy sources of fats and oils, look for canola oil, flax oil, and chicken fat on the ingredient list.
Stay Away From These Dog Food Ingredients
- “Meat meal” instead of more specific labels like “chicken meal”
- Cheap grains as fillers
- Preservatives BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin
- Beef Tallow
- Poultry fat (look for the more specific “chicken fat”)
These are the basic ingredients to stay away from. Dog Food Project has a more comprehensive list of bad dog food ingredients.
PS: For a healthy treat for your dog that he can chew for weeks, check out the elk antlers for dogs.