Grain-Free Dog Food

The Ultimate Guide to Grain Free Dog Food

4 Dog Food Questions You Should Ask

5 Dog Food Questions You Should AskThere are a number of dog foods on the market... countless, actually. Read the packaging on these dog foods and and every single one of them is a healthy complete and balanced canine diet.

Right? Wrong...

One should be wary about trusting the marketing hype or the celebrity endorsements when it comes to dog food. Of course all dog foods will claim AAFCO compliance for being balanced and complete. So, what are the questions you should ask when reviewing a dog food?

Some questions have answers, and others just linger out there. In any case, these questions will get you thinking about which dog foods you can trust, and, they all have to do with the ingredients in your dog food.

5 Dog Food Questions

1. Where are the dog food ingredients from?

Think "Made in the USA" is good enough? Well, made in the USA does not mean SOURCED from the USA. Dog food companies are notorious for using brokers, third party suppliers, and middlemen when sourcing their raw materials. Look for: Made in the USA with local ingredients, or the state of origin on the label.

2. What are the first 6 ingredients in the dog food?

The first 6 ingredients are generally the most valuable. Depending on how many total ingredients are contained in the food, the items below this line can be classified as window dressing. An exception to this is if you're looking at vitamins and minerals (which are small amounts anyway). If you see a vegetable way down on the list, it can't really be counted towards any real nutritional value of the food. Make sure your dog food doesn't contain any "lawful" yet unfit ingredients, read Dog Food Basics: 3 No No's for Healthy Dog Food.

3. What are the biological values of the ingredients?

Biological value, can be explained as nutritional importance. For example, just because something is classified as "protein" does not mean it is available for digestion and use in your dog's body. A chicken beak, or leather belt, while high in protein, is nearly useless nutritionally to your dog. Though, theoretically, they both could be listed on a guaranteed analysis as protein. But you know better.

Wheat gluten or corn, common dog food ingredients, have very poor biological values (rating of approx: 45-50), while eggs are extremely high (rating: 100)[1]. Keep this in mind when you're reviewing the ingredients list... what are the sources of ingredients and their corresponding biological values?

3. What is the carbohydrate content?

If you've tried looking on the Guaranteed Analysis, you'll be out of luck. Carbohydrate content is rarely shown on most dog food labels, and it's done so intentionally. This is because many dog foods contain enormous amounts of carbohydrates, starch, and sugars, and this is well known to be terrible for your dog's health.

Tip: the carbohydrates should be extremely low. A healthy canine diet does not require carbohydrates the same way that a human does. Dogs don't need corn, wheat, barley, or any substantial carbohydrates to be healthy[2].

4. What are the consumer reviews?

If these are available, which when looking online, there are numerous reviews for nearly every dog food, you should pay attention. Look for credibility in the review from real dog food owners to know if dogs generally like the taste and experience of the dog food.


References and Citations

1. Palika, Liz, The Consumers Guide to Dog Food, New York, Howell Book House, 1996

2. National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, 2006 Edition, National Academies Press, Washington, DC

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Recent Comments:
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These are great tips... keep up the good work

We took our dog off the grain diets and he immediately dropped weight, in a good way. He's 8 years old and our vet asked us what we are doing. We just changed to raw grain free dog food.