10 Red Flag Ingredients: What Shouldn’t Be In Your Dog’s Food!

April 28th, 2009 by Dan

Dog food bags are created to be pleasing to the owner’s eye, since we’re the ones shelling out for what’s inside the bag. Companies often entice us with pictures of happy dogs with lolling tongues grinning as chunks of fresh meat fall from the sky. However, when you turn these bags over and start to interpret the ingredient panel – the story it tells is a completely different one.

Chi X Kibbie

Photo by refinedk9

Could you live on McDonald’s for your entire life? I bet you could (let’s not get into a debate on HOW long that life would be!). Would you be healthy? No – I’m betting you would feel pretty terrible, but you would have no other way of living to compare it to. If you have a dog that has been eating a food you purchase at the supermarket all his life, think of that as McDonald’s – he can survive on it, but does he thrive on it? If he was on a healthier food you might see itchy allergies disappear, muscles develop, energy levels increase, digestive health improve, etc.

I completely understand that feeding a raw diet or cooking for your dog is not an option for everyone, but that choice in no way says you are destined to feed your dog an unhealthy diet. It does mean you must research what you are feeding. There a huge range of dog foods available on the market today and sorting through them can be mind boggling. To simplify things, here is a list of ingredients you do NOT want to see on the label of your dog’s kibble (Warning: this piece is a bit graphic at times). This is a great list to print out and bring with you when you are making decisions on your pet’s diet!:

Animal By-products or Meat By-products:
Animal or meat by-products are the waste parts of the animal and actually contain very little meat. What they do contain is hooves, feet, bones, beaks, blood, intestines, kidneys, etc). The items are not always fresh. Not appetizing. Not what you want your dog to eat.

Animal Digest:
Prepare to be grossed out – Animal Digest is pretty much a swill of animal parts harvested from wherever (roadkill, euthanized animals, downed slaughterhouse animals, etc). It’s not pretty. For more about Animal Digest and why you want to avoid it click here.

Sweeteners of any kind:

If you’re feeding a food with a high protein content it your dog should want to eat it! It should smell like meat! Sweeteners are added to lower end foods to make the food more enticing to dogs. These can include sugar, molasses, sorbitol and corn syrup. Regular intake of sweeteners can lead to tooth decay, weight problems, diabetes and other health issues. Just as humans are prone to addiction to sugary snacks, it can be hard to wean a dog off of a food that contains one of these ingredients.

Corn should not be one of the first few ingredients listed on the panel when you are looking at dog foods. It is not an acceptable protein source and is often a source of allergies in dogs.

Soy is another filler that is a frequent itch causer – avoid it!

Staffy Bull Kibble

Photo by little minx 1

Cellulose is often found in budget “lite” or “weight loss” formulas – it comes from plant materials (mostly wood) and is dried and processed. What does that sound like to you? Sawdust? That’s because it is.

Artificial Colors, Flavors (etc):
Artificial colors may cause allergic reactions in some dogs. While these events are rare, the only reason these ingredients are added to foods is for our benefit, not our dog’s. Artificial flavors shouldn’t be needed in a food with high quality ingredients.

Ethoxyquin is used as a preservative in pet foods. It has also been used as a pesticide in the fruit industry. There is evidence that it has caused cancer as well as renal, thyroid and immune illnesses. However, there are still studies being done regarding the safety of Ethoxyquin and until there is conclusive evidence, it can be used in pet food.

BHA and BHT:

BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxysanisole/Butylated Hydroxytoluen) are preservatives that have been banned in many countries for safety reasons, but are still legal for use in the United States. There is evidence that these preservatives have caused cancer and tumors in both humans and animals. Avoid it!

Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex:
An inexpensive synthetic form of vitamin K that is added to cheap dog foods. High quality, natural sources of vitamin K (kelps, fish, algae) would be cost prohibitive to these companies, so they choose to include Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex. It has been banned for over the counter human use in the US and has been known to weaken the immune system, cause skin irritations, hemolytic anemia, and allergic reactions. If your dog’s food doesn’t have a natural source of Vitamin K as an ingredient and you are concerned, you can consider a fish or spirulina supplement – just skip the synthetic kind!

Pug Kibble

Photo by jmatthew3

Now that you have a list of what you should avoid, here are some dog foods that I recommend picking up(or ordering online!) for your pup. They are free from ALL of the items above. Check out their websites and see what you think. I’ll be posting more information on each of my choices (and quite a few more options) soon.
Wellness Core and Wellness Super5Mixes
The Honest Kitchen
Taste Of The Wild
Ziwi Peak

8 Responses to “10 Red Flag Ingredients: What Shouldn’t Be In Your Dog’s Food!”

  1. Rebecca Rose Says:

    What great information! Thanks for this informational post. Providing a balanced diet is a good start to a healthier pet. Additionally, consider supplementing with prebiotics, the food for the good bacteria, and plant based digestive enzymes, the nutrient delivery system. These offer a way to help support digestive health and a pet’s overall immune health.
    Adding a prebiotic, such as FOS, and plant based enzymes to pet’s food help ensure the nutrients in the food will be absorbed and friendly bacteria thrive.
    This can be helpful for:
    1. Food Change
    2. Antibiotics
    3. To keep a healthy digestive system.
    I have a rescue dog and cat that are now thriving with a good food and digestive aid.

  2. Jack Stormin Says:

    Thank you, i appreciate your time and consideration this information is invaluable to me due to the fact that all of my pets that did not disapear, have died of cancer, i believe it may have been old age up till now, i believe that it may have been the food we were feeding them, which was almost always the same old same old, and it probably had many of these bad ingredients in it, so thank you.

  3. Jessica Alban Says:

    Ok great! i love this information. i chose Dogswell Vitality dry adult dog food “happy hips” for my dog. he LOVES it. and on the front it says no corn, BHA/BHT and all the stuff it shouldnt have as listed on this website. Analysis on this dog food if you search it up is AMAZING! get it at A Matter Of Health, Petco, Petsmart ETC any pet store! ENJOY

  4. Stephanie Says:

    This was very helpful! I knew about corn and especially corn meal being very bad (hence why I started looking more into what else is bad in dog food), but this list is more extensive than I originally thought! Thank you so much, now my dog will not only be happy but healthy too :)

  5. Pet Food Ratings Says:

    Good information. It’s always surprising how little people know about pet food, and even more surprising what rubbish can be found in most off the shelf cat and dog foods.

    I would also add wheat to your list – another cheap filler often found in pet food, and a common cause of allergies.

    It’s also worth considering what ingredients are good as well as bad. Named meats, especially “meal” is superb, and quality grains such as oats and barley are good. I have more information here if you’re interested, and it’s good to make people aware of this information – http://www.petfoodratings.org/ingredient-glossary/

  6. Ginger Says:

    There’s an online fundraiser going on right now that is raising money so that massive pet food testing can be done so that we can all see exactly what is in many of the pet foods out there. This will be huge if enough money is raised. Here’s the link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-pet-food-test

  7. Cristie Says:

    Thank you !! :*

  8. KlientUp Says:

    Excellent article! We are linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the good writing.

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