Grain-Free Dog Food

The Ultimate Guide to Grain Free Dog Food

Dog Food Basics: 3 No No's for Healthy Dog Food

raw meat dog foodYou want to your dog to be healthy? Great, who doesn't.

Finding a healthy dog food and identifying the bad dog food ingredients is starting to weigh heavier on the minds of dog owners. We have written previously about where dog food has gone wrong, and, if you saw what goes into the process of making commercial dog food, no one would ever feed it to their dog.

So how do we fix it?

Well, let’s get back to basics and look for simple and nutritious dog food.

If possible, we look for convenience, but not at the expense of quality—like what is realized with dry kibble. When looking for a dog food, here is what you should look for and dog food ingredients to avoid.

What Should Be In Dog Food

3 Types of Ingredients You Can Say Yes To...

Basically, we want items that are closest to your dog's natural wild diet, which are minimally processed and high in nutritional value.

  • #1 USDA Meat

Whole, raw meat is better for dogs.

Cooked and processed meat and/or by-products used in pet food can greatly diminish their biological value. Proteins are especially vulnerable to heat, and become damaged, or “denatured,” when cooked.

Dry food ingredients are cooked twice!

Dry food is first cooked during rendering and again in the extruder. Altered proteins may contribute to food intolerance, dog food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.

  • #2 Produce and Fruits

Dogs in the wild will eat vegetation and fruit to supplement the nutrients they need that are not found in meat. Don’t make the mistake of grouping produce with grains like wheat, corn, and barley—items that dogs do not routinely eat. Fruits and vegetables in metered amounts provide energy, vitamins, minerals, enhance antioxidant function, and fiber—all greatly benefiting dogs.

  • #3 Natural Preservatives and Antioxidants

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Rosemary
  • Zinc sulfate

What Should NOT Be In Dog Food

The 3 No No's

We want to rule out items that are high in volume, yet low in biological value, or nutritional worth.

  • #1 Grains

  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • #2 By-Products (aka inedible ingredients):

  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Turkey by-product meal
  • Poultry by-product meal
  • Beef by-product meal
  • Animal digest
  • Animal fats

Fats are sprayed directly onto extruded foods (like kibble), to make the product more palatable to the dog. These processed fats are deemed inedible for humans, and though acceptable for pet foods, they are really are terrible for your dogs health.

By-products, middlings, or "meals" may include awful ingredients, including, but not limited to: slaughterhouse waste, dead animals (including cats and dogs), bread rejects, cereal rejects (corn cobs, stalks, sawdust), plastic, cardboard, expired restaraunt grease, and shells from nuts.

By-products are another word for recycled waste unfit for consumption, cooked down, or rendered, into a meaty "meal"—if you see "by-products" in your ingredient list, find a different dog food.

  • #3 Chemical Additives

As with human food, there is concern with chemical additives in dog food causing behavioral problems. Chemical additives should be avoided.

See our recommendations for healthy dog food.

Reference and Citations

Mahmoud AL. Toxigenic fungi and mycotoxin content in poultry feedstuff ingredients. J Basic Microbiol, 1993; 33(2): 101–4. Roudebush P. Pet food additives. J Amer Vet Med Assoc, 203 (1993): 1667–1670.

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Dehydrated Dog Food: Is it Healthy?

A new trend in the pet nutrition industry, but is it healthy for dogs?

Dog Food and Nutrition-Related Diseases

A short list of common canine ailments correlated to dry dog food or grain-based dog foods.

Dog Food Basics: 3 No No's

What to look for in healthy dog food and what are the biggest No No's!

4 Dog Food Questions You Should Ask

Go beyond frequently asked questions.

Top 16 Grain-Free Ingredients For Dog Food

Homemade dog food or commercial, here's a list of our top grain-free ingredients.


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