You care about your dog’s health, but how do you really know if your dog’s food is actually healthy? Here’s everything you need to know!
As a dog parent, you know mealtime is one of the most important rituals of the day that you get to share together. When you feed them nutritious food that fuels their growth and activity, it’s even better.
With all the dog food brands available, how can you know if your dog’s food is really healthy? The standard for dog food should be the same everywhere, but unfortunately, not all dog food is created equally.
When it comes to healthy dog food, there are a lot of factors to consider. Are the ingredients full of nutrition? Are they grown naturally and without the use of chemicals or preservatives? Do your dog’s meals have the right amount of micronutrients and macronutrients to sustain your dog?
Finding the healthiest dog food for your best friend shouldn’t be hard, so we put together everything you need to know about determining the good dog food from the not-so-good.
What is Healthy Dog Food?
The term healthy is used on a variety of different food products, but this doesn’t mean the food is actually as healthy as it claims to be.
Even natural dog food brands aren’t always as natural as they claim to be. For example, even under the Association of American Feed Control Officials regulations, “natural” foods can undergo physical processing such as heat processing, rendering, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, purification, or fermentation.
In other words, foods considered “natural” can still undergo heavy processing before they are packaged and sold. The only real guideline set in place is that natural foods can’t contain chemical or synthetic ingredients.
This is why you have to do a little bit of digging to find the healthiest food for your pup. Here are some of the things you should look for to help you find healthy dog food.
If you want to get to know the food you’re buying, the first step is to take a look at the ingredients. Dog food companies often slap facetious labels on the front, hoping you’ll just trust them instead of looking at the ingredient list.
But healthy dog food is made of healthy ingredients, and it’s easy to spot “healthiness” on the ingredient list.
So, what are healthy ingredients? The answer to this involves a variety of factors. But, to start, here are some characteristics your dog’s food should contain.
Your dog’s food should have fruits and veggies.
We know that meat is important for your dog to eat, too. Protein is a vital ingredient in dog food, but without fruits and vegetables, your dog may miss out on essential amino acids, vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that they need to grow and thrive.
That being said, not all fruits and vegetables are good for your dog, either. For instance, garlic, onions, and chives are toxic and can poison your dog if consumed. Grapes and raisins are also toxic to dogs.
Look for blueberries, strawberries, bananas, apples, tomatoes, cranberries, oranges, and cherries. These fruits are rich in essential vitamins and packed with antioxidants.
As far as vegetables go, look for beets, spinach, kale, broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, chicory root, parsley, kelp, flaxseed, zucchini, and pumpkin.
Your dog’s food should have real meat.
While you’re checking the ingredient list, you should also be able to find real meat listed. Be sure you find a specific meat name, like venison, beef bone, salmon, or an organ like liver. If you read “meat meal” or “chicken meal” instead, it’s not quite real meat. At least not the kind that will actually nourish your pup.
When meats are listed as “meals,” this can mean a variety of things. It may mean that the ingredients are the by-product of the animal, or it may mean any combination of feet, beaks, feathers, skin, and a little bit of meat is included.
Either way, it’s not an ingredient you want to see on your dog’s food, and it’s certainly not a “healthy” ingredient.
Your dog’s food should have whole grains.
Gluten-free dog food has increased in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Many dog food brands use ingredients like wheat, gluten, rice, potatoes, and corn as fillers in dog food to make your dog feel fuller faster.
However, these ingredients aren’t packed with nutrition, so while your dog may feel full, they will still lack the nutrients their bodies need. Plus, wheat is among the top five dog food allergies, so avoiding it may be better for your pup altogether.
While gluten-free dog food is great, it often doesn’t include any alternative grains to replace gluten. Whole grains are full of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that keep your dog healthy, promote their wellbeing, and provide them with fuel for energy, so finding a healthy dog food with whole grains that are still gluten-free is like striking gold.
How can you do this? Look for dog foods with quinoa or oats (cough--Sundays--cough). Quinoa is a rich source of nutrition that comes from grains like fiber. This superfood takes healthy dog food to a whole new level.
Human-Grade Dog Food
Instead of trusting the word natural to tell you if you’ve found healthy dog food, try to look for human-grade dog food.
Human-grade dog food is a great way to make sure your dog is getting the best dog food for them. Your dog is a part of your family just like any other member, so just like you want the best food for your family to eat, you want the best for your fur baby, too.
Many times, dog food doesn’t follow the same standards that human food does. Dog food companies allow by-products into food and use high processing techniques and filler ingredients.
Instead, look for the term human-grade when looking for healthy dog food. Human-grade dog food is made the same way you’d want your own food to be made, with nutrient-rich ingredients that are minimally processed and never contain hormones, preservatives, chemicals, or additives.
Choosing human-grade dog food is by far the best way to choose the healthiest food for your dog.
Right Amount of Macronutrients
While the quality of the ingredients is a vital aspect of healthy dog food, it’s also important to find dog food with the right amounts of ingredients included.
Depending on a variety of factors, your dog needs a certain amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates to fuel their bodies and support their health.
No Additives or Processing
Additives are not something you want to see listed in the ingredients of your dog’s food. Common additives in dog food include meat by-products, mycotoxins made by mold, and chemicals such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, and food dyes.
Other than Vitamin C and E, you shouldn’t find any other preservatives in healthy dog food.
It’s also important to look for minimally processed foods. Often, dog food is blasted at extreme temperatures in order to kill bacteria. While killing bacteria is important, this process can also destroy the nutrient value of ingredients.
Your dog’s food should be packed with nutrition in every bite. Otherwise, they’re eating empty calories that won’t give them the fuel they need to thrive.
Instead, look for minimally processed foods that don’t use high temperatures or other extreme measures to preserve food and kill bacteria — air-dried dog food, anyone?
How To Find Healthy Dog Food
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed after reading all the requirements of healthy dog food. From knowing which ingredients are the best for your pet, to understanding which ones to avoid, to knowing how to spot additives and processed foods — there’s a lot to know.
If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your veterinarian about what dog food is right for your loyal companion. Your vet be able to help you determine what kind of food your dog needs and steer you in the right direction.
But you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops or spend hours searching for healthy dog food — that’s why we made Sundays Food for Dogs.
Our dog food is made with all-natural USDA beef, beef heart, beef liver, and beef bone, in addition to a variety of fruits and vegetables, with salmon oil and quinoa. Our food is air-dried instead of heavily processed to make for a nourishing, all-natural, human-grade dog food that was created by your friendly neigborhood dog-loving vets.
Whether you’re trying to find healthy dog food for your new puppy or your faithful canine, there’s nothing better than all-natural, human-grade, air-dried dog food. Our dog food is packed with all the nutrition your dog needs to thrive, with none of the other ingredients!
It’s real food for your dog, because they deserve it.
Pet Food: The Good, the Bad, and the Healthy | Pet Safe