Choosing the right food for your furry friend can be a difficult task. Between dry food, wet food, limited ingredient diets, grain-free dog food, there are so many different brands, ingredients, and options on the market that it can be nearly impossible to make a decision.
So here's what ingredients to look for and which to avoid:
Beef is one of the most common protein sources in dog food. It provides an excellent source of protein, contains plenty of essential vitamins and minerals that dogs need, and it has great palatability.
We use USDA-grade high protein beef as the primary ingredient in Sundays Food for Dogs because we think it’s the best option. Another common meat you’ll see in a lot of brands is chicken. It’s likely the most common dog food ingredient because it’s cheap and still full of protein.
However, chicken is also one of the most common allergens for dogs. If you’ve ever noticed your dog scratching themselves often, licking themselves, sneezing, or having watery eyes, it could be due to a food allergy.
Many dogs suffer from a variety of food allergies, just like humans. As far as proteins go, chicken is by far the most common offender here. For that reason, most vets recommend going with a different protein source if that is a problem for your dog.
In addition to a primary source of protein, any high-quality dog food will also include organ meats like livers and hearts. These provide a lot of vitamins that dogs aren’t able to get from just the meat itself.
Organ meats may sound gross to us, but it’s essential to a healthy and balanced diet for our furry friends.
Another popular meat option is salmon or some other kind of fish. This can be another great choice. It’s full of protein, and it is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your dog’s coat healthy and shiny.
It’s also another good option for dogs who have food allergies, as salmon allergies are relatively uncommon. The only downside is that there can be problems if the fish is not processed properly.
In addition, salmon also adds a fairly fishy smell to your dog’s food, which is off-putting to many people.
You can also find foods with salmon oil in them. That way, even if they are using another meat as their main protein, your dog can still get the omega-3s that they need.
Meat is not the only important ingredient in your dog’s food. There should also be a healthy amount of some kind of grain in there, too.
In recent years, grain-free diets started to gain popularity. However, in 2018, the FDA issued a warning that they found a link between some grain-free formula dry dog foods and heart problems in dogs.
It’s important that your dog gets the right kind of grains, though. Things like rice don’t add any nutritional value for your pup, basically just acting as an additional filler in the food.
Quinoa is an excellent grain option instead. It provides the same carbs and quick energy that you get from rice, but it’s also packed with fiber, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals your dog needs.
In fact, it’s considered to be a superfood, both for humans and for dogs. If you’re looking for a good grain option, quinoa is really the best way to go.
Another dog superfood, pumpkin is an excellent addition to any dog food ingredients list. It helps give them fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, and other nutrients that are great for your dog.
Most importantly, pumpkin is an excellent digestive aid. That makes it a great ingredient for any pups with sensitive stomachs, but it also still helps with dogs who have bellies of steel.
The additional digestive help allows your dog to really get all of the nutrients they need out of their food. Moreover, it can help keep their bowels and check and lead to consistently healthy stool.
Zucchini is one of the best vegetables you could get in your dog’s food. It’s a great slow-carb, helping to give your dog long-lasting energy throughout the day.
It also provides vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals that help keep your dog in its best shape.
Another dog superfood to look for is blueberries. They are full of antioxidants to help fend off cancerous cells in your dog’s body, and they are also rich in vitamins C and K.
Most importantly, though, blueberries are an incredible sweetener for your dog’s food. They absolutely love the taste of them (just like we do).
In fact, next time you’re looking to do some training with your dog, try using blueberries as a treat option. They’re the perfect size for a training treat, and most dogs will go crazy for them like you had a piece of deli meat.
Other berries are great options, too. Raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries all have some of the same properties, and they still add the same sweetness.
Another ingredient you can look for in your dog’s food is tomatoes. They’re loaded with tons of vitamins and minerals that are great for your furry friend. Vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, and more are all packed into the little red fruit.
Foods to Avoid
It’s also important to know about some of the foods that you want to make sure are not in your dog’s food. These are things that could be potentially harmful, anti-nutrients, common allergens, or are just not recommended by vets for your dog to eat.
Look on the bag of any cheap kibble at the pet store, and you’ll probably see this on the ingredients list. Sometimes it’s listed as “chicken meal” or “turkey meal,” and other times it just says “meat meal.”
Either way, this is absolutely not something you want in your dog’s food. If the ingredient list says “meal,” that could mean a number of different things. It’s made up partly of the actual protein source like real chicken, but it will often include things like feathers, feet, and other “leftovers” from the animal carcass.
You want to look for clearly named meats like “beef,” or “venison” rather than “beef meal.” This ensures that you’re getting high-quality meat, not just leftovers.
While soy is an extremely common ingredient in dog food, it falls into the same category as chicken. It turns out to be one of the most common dog food allergies there is.
It can be a great source of protein if your dog isn’t sensitive to it, but there is a high probability that they are. We recommend avoiding it entirely, as it can be difficult to isolate exactly what is causing your dog’s allergies when dealing with most commercial dog foods.
While corn is not dangerous or toxic for dogs, you should be careful about using foods that include it as an ingredient. There are a few reasons for this.
First, corn has one of the highest glycemic indexes of any dog food ingredients. This means that if your dog eats it, it will actually increase their blood sugar. In addition, this is another ingredient that many dogs are allergic to.
Even if neither of those is an issue, corn is not a very digestible food for your dog. They will get little-to-no nutritional value from it, and their stomachs may have a hard time processing it, especially if it is right off the cob.
Just like with humans, many dogs actually have an intolerance to either wheat or gluten. In addition, this acts as another anti-nutrient, making it more difficult for your dog to digest their food and get the nutrients they need.
Look for whole grain options that do not include wheat in order to get the best food for your dog. Grain-free dry dog food was a popular choice for a while, but this might not be the best for your dog. Instead, look for things like rice formulas like a brown rice recipe or even sweet potato recipe.
Dairy is another one of the most common dog food allergens. Whether it be in the form of milk or whey protein, any dairy ingredients can cause potential allergy and stomach problems for your pup. Adding in probiotics instead of dairy into your dog's wet dog food can be a great way to benefit their digestive system.
Many dog foods contain different types of synthetic additives and ingredients. Chemicals, preservatives, colorings, and other synthetic ingredients are found all the time in commercial offerings.
In fact, our research shows that even so-called “natural” pet foods and dog treats are like this. The average natural option has at least 30 synthetic ingredients.
We don’t want to feed our dogs anything we wouldn’t eat for ourselves, so we make sure that Sunday’s features only natural, human-grade ingredients based on whole foods and veggies.
All of the ingredients on this list and more make up our air-dried adult dog food that dogs love. If you’re looking to upgrade your dog to a healthier lifestyle, whether it's for weight management to help your dog get to a healthy weight, sensitive skin, or sensitive stomachs, try switching them to Sundays Food for Dogs. Small breeds and large breeds, Papillons and Dobermans alike, dogs just love our food.
Read our ingredients list and see for yourself. It’s the happiest and healthiest your dog will ever be.