I have been asked many times "What is a good dog food to feed my dog?". I always tell people that they need to look at the bag. The first 3 ingredients will tell you if you are using a good dog or cat food. It can be hard to understand the list of ingredients and know what they mean. That is why I am writing this. I challenge you to go look at your pet food and see what the first 3 ingredients are. The first 3 ingredients should be a protein. Don't worry I will wait until you get back.
I hope you actually took that time to look. If not, you better check later cause I will quiz you the next time I see you. So you better be prepared! :)
High quality foods will contain superior sources of protein like whole, fresh fish or single source meat meal. They will have a whole-meat source as one of the two first ingredients and will have whole, unprocessed grains and vegetables.
High quality foods will not contain food fragments, meat by-products, artificial preservatives or sweeteners, or artificial coloring or flavoring. So, did your pet food pass? I doubt it. I hate shopping for dog and cat food because most of the foods out there aren't very good. I think we have gotten very good about reading the labels on the food we eat so know it's time to do the same with our pets.
I am also going to explain what some of the terms mean that you will see in the list of ingredients. It can be confusing and I think they do that on purpose. They want you to think you are buying good quality food when really you are feeding them corn and rice!
First I will list good ingredients that you want to look for. :)
Chicken meal - the dry product from a combination of skin and flesh, with or without bone derived from the whole carcasses of the chicken, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails
Lamb meal - the rendered product from the lamb tissues, exclusive of hair, blood, hide, hoof, trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents
Ground rice - The dehulled rice kernel, without the pericap, ground or chopped
Brown rice - the entire product obtained in grinding the rice kernels after removing the hulls.
Chicken or lamb fat - Obtained from the tissue of chickens/ lambs in the commercial process of rendering/extracting
Flaxseed Meal - the ground product obtained from the see of the flax plant
Sunflower Oil - Obtained from extracting the oil from the sunflower seeds
Here are some things that you do NOT want in your pet food
Poultry by-product meal - Consists of the ground parts of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines (gross!)
Meat meal/meat and bone meal - the rendered products from mammal tissues, excludes blood, hair, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in trace amounts. Here is the gross part!!!! Most people associate this ingredient with beef. The truth is that it can be from ANY animal. i.e. pigs, goats, horses, rabbits or even roadkill. It can also come from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals! I warned you that is was gross.
Ground corn - This is just a filler
Wheat flour - Basically waste leftovers from the mill
Animal fat - The species is unknown and the quality is usually very poor
BHT/ BHA/ Ethoxyquin - These are artificial preservatives that enhance the shelf-life of dry foods. There are debates as to how much of these products should be in pet foods. Vitamin E in fresh food is a great preservative!
Well, I hope this has helped you better understand what you are feeding to your dog or cat. Now go check the label if you haven't already. Take the pet food challenge!!!