What Are the Best Dog Food Ingredients?

If you’ve ever looked at an ingredients list on commercial dog food, you know how difficult it can be to determine what is and isn’t a high-quality food, especially since many companies have learned tricks to label their food in appetizing ways.

Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in order of amount, so it’s important to pay special attention to the first few ingredients. 


What is the Best Meat for My Dog?

Unsurprisingly, the first and most important part of your pet food is the meat used. 

Every food is different, and there are dozens of different meat options available.

Research shows that around 30 percent of your dog’s diet should be coming from a lean protein. This can take a variety of forms, and there are pros and cons to each. 

Chicken is one of the more inexpensive and lean protein sources, so you’ll see it in lots of dog food and treats.

 It is also one of the most common allergens for dogs (albeit rare). 

One note: make sure that the ingredient list states specifically what kind of meat it’s using rather than just “poultry” or “meat.” 

This will speak to the quality of the meat they are using -- hopefully it's not just meat by-products.

 You also want to look for organ meats like kidney or liver, as these provide essential vitamins and nutrients that your dog needs.

Should My Dog Eat a Grain-Free Diet?

A few years ago, grain-free dog food diets started to gain more popularity. 

The idea is that a dog eating a grain-free or raw diet is in line with what its ancestors would have eaten. 

On the surface it makes sense, but according to the FDA, there is a potential link between grain-free diets and heart disease.
Instead of grains, these diets often contain peas and other legumes as an alternative cheap protein and carbohydrate source which are thought to be implicated in the development of heart disease associated with “grain-free” diets.

What Carbs Are Best for My Dog?

Another important part of your dog’s diet is carbohydrates as they provide a source of energy.

Corn and rice are cheap grains that are used in many traditional kibbles.

Dogs can adapt and digest these grains but keep in mind they are often added to food to falsely increase protein levels cheaply.


Should My Dog Eat Fatty Foods?

This is a question we see a lot when it comes to dog food ingredients. 

Many people think that fat is bad for dogs, but this is not necessarily true. 

A moderate amount of healthy fats is actually an essential element of a balanced diet. 

Sundays contains salmon oil and sunflower oil.
These provide healthy fats and omega-3s, which also help to keep your dog’s coat shiny and in good health. 

What Vitamins Does My Dog Need and What Foods Provide Them?

Just like humans, dogs have basic vitamin and mineral requirements to keep them healthy.

 The vast majority of dog foods provide these nutrients through artificial vitamins and minerals, and, while adequate, our food here at Sundays is complete and balanced only using nutrients from whole foods like fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin A is found in carrots, pumpkins and cherries. It helps keep your dog’s eyes healthy, and it promotes growth and supports their immune system. 

The vitamin B family includes a host of different vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, B12, B6, and others.

 Each of these plays a role in your dog’s health, helping primarily with their energy, metabolism, and immune system.

 You’ll find these vitamins across a spectrum of foods, but spinach, broccoli, and other greens are one of the best sources. 

You’ll also find B vitamins in beef and cranberries.

Vitamin C is most commonly found in oranges and other citrus fruits. 

However, you’ll also find it in apples, blueberries, kale, and more. It works mostly as an antioxidant, protecting your pooch from developing potentially cancerous cells.

Your dog will get most of the vitamin D that he or she needs from the sun. It helps keep their bones healthy and growing, and it helps them repair and build tired, worn-out muscles.

 If your dog is in extra need of vitamin D, they can get it from some fish oils, as well as beef livers and egg yolks in smaller amounts. 

Vitamin E is important for their fat metabolism, and it helps to keep their eyes and muscles from deteriorating.

 It’s most commonly found in vegetables like spinach. It’s also found in sunflower oil. 

Another important vitamin is vitamin K.

Vitamin K is integral for appropriate blood function (a lot of rat poisons work by inhibiting Vitamin K). 

Also, be sure to keep in mind that dogs at different life stages might need different ingredients.

Adult dogs have different nutrient requirements  than senior dogs and puppies do. 

What Are “Superfoods” for Dogs?

The concept of “superfoods” is a relatively recent trend.

Certain foods or categories of food have been deemed “super,” saying that they offer extra health benefits compared with other non-super foods. 

When something is deemed a “superfood,” that just means it is rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

Common superfoods include dark leafy green veggies, different kinds of berries, and fish, just to name a few. 

Although these have primarily been looked at in terms of human food, it turns out that our dogs can benefit from some of the same superfoods that we do.

Kale falls under the category of “dark leafy greens.”

It’s been a member of the superfood family for some time now, and for good reason.

Kale is densely packed with tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are great for your pup’s health. 

Kale should be fed in moderation as leafy greens in general such as spinach can sometimes predispose your dog to bladder stones.

Pumpkin is often touted as a miracle ingredient for any dogs with digestive issues.

It’s packed fiber and nutrients that help your dog stay regular and keep their tummies healthy.

Not to mention, the digestive help can also help them to get all the nutrients they need from the other foods in their diet, as well. 

Blueberries are considered a superfood both for humans and dogs. 

They are rich with antioxidants and fiber, and they are a great addition to your pup’s regular diet. 

While it makes for a great ingredient in your dog’s food, blueberries are also a great treat option.

They’re a perfect size, and most dogs love the taste.

Try them out the next time you’re trying to teach your dog a new trick. 

Similar to pumpkin, ginger is an excellent digestive aid for your dog. 

It can also help to settle an upset stomach when given in relatively small doses.

Moreover, ginger adds a great flavor to any dish, and your dog will likely really enjoy it. 

Are There Ingredients I Should Avoid in My Dog’s Food?

“Byproducts” are not necessarily a bad thing--sometimes organ meats, which are the most nutritious parts of an animal, are considered byproducts. 

That being said, foods with named organ ingredients are a much better choice, as meals and byproducts are often processed with chemicals to make them shelf stable.


Although there isn’t one specific ingredient that is the “best” for your dog’s food, you should make sure they have a balanced diet of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

You should also make sure they’re getting all the essential vitamins and nutrients that they need to stay happy and healthy through a quality dog food brand.
If you have any questions or concerns about your dog's food make sure to consult your veterinarian.

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