If you spoil your furry friends as much as most animal lovers do, you want to be sure that you are feeding them the most nutritious food possible.
While we aren’t veterinarians, there are some general “rules of thumb” when it comes to picking the best foods for your pets and we’ve compiled a “How To Pick the Best Food for Your Pets” guide:
Ingredients Matter (in the order they are listed)
First of all, dog food manufacturers are required by federal law to list the ingredients in descending order of their weight (prior to cooking). Therefore, that makes the first few ingredients in your pets’ food the most abundant.
Digestible, Meat-Based Protein Ingredients
When you’re analyzing the best food for your pet(s), you always want to look for high quality, digestible meat-based proteins that are as close to the top of the list of ingredients (if not AT the top). This means that if you haven’t found quality protein in those first few ingredients, you might as well forget about that particular brand of pet food.
Dogs and cats are carnivores. They NEED a diet that’s based on meat (protein). They do not need or flourish from a carbohydrate-based diet. Grains (a.k.a. carbs) are added to pet food because 1) they’re cheaper than meat, and 2) they hold the food pieces together. They aren’t added for the sake of proper nutrition for your meat-eating pet.
Whole Food Sources
The source and quality of protein in the formula is crucially important for your pet’s health. Look for whole food sources at the very top of the ingredient list like ‘beef,’ ‘turkey,’ ‘lamb’ or ‘chicken’ — one-word descriptions. Meat and fat ingredients should be identified by species (turkey, lamb, beef, fish, etc.). Avoid any formula that uses unidentified sources or is described using words like ‘meat, animal or poultry.’
Vegetables for Pets, Too!
Ingredients three and four should be vegetables (avoid corn, wheat or beep pulp) and unless the formula is grain-free (which I recommend), a whole grain source like brown rice. Organic grains are preferable where grains are included, but they are no substitute for meat content. Avoid formulas with ‘grain fragments’ — these are non-nutritive fillers. Grain-free formulas will frequently use potatoes as the starch, which holds the food together during processing.
AVOID these ingredients in pet food:
All pet food containing corn or soy
Corn is a cheap filler ingredient, non-nutritious for pets, and a known allergenic. Soy is estrogenic and wreaks havoc on your pet’s endocrine system.
Formulas containing “by-products”
Especially avoid those that don’t specify the type of meat in the meat by-product.
Believe it or not, meat by-products – especially those not specified as a certain kind of meat – will contain parts of beaks, feathers, feet, hooves, hair and even tumors that have been ground into the mix during processing. Although some by-products may provide some nutrition, such as spleens and other organ meats, because they are all lumped together it’s best to avoid them entirely.
Foods containing artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives
In dog food, these nasty ingredients usually go by the names BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin and propyl gallate. When considering foods containing fish, be sure that the label that states the formula contains NO artificial preservatives. Look for foods preserved with vitamins C/E, instead.