The Truth Behind Natural Dog Food Ingredients

By Cheryl Campbell | Food & Nutrition

Discover Truth Behind Natural Dog Food Ingredients

Let’s Talk about The Truth Behind Natural Dog Food Ingredients

Many say that the most important thing to know about Natural dog food is that it should be made of human-grade ingredients. What does that mean exactly? Technically it means that they will not put anything in your dog’s food that is not for human consumption. When we get to the truth behind natural dog food ingredients, here’s the problem: there is no legal definition whatsoever for the term “human grade” when it comes to pet food. It is a buzz word that has been around since the dog food recall scare back in 2007. We need to dig a little deeper to find out what is best for a healthy dog.

A Closer Look at Kibble and Natural Dog Food Ingredients

Some of the ingredients listed in a variety of dog food are: poultry/poultry meal, chicken, lamb by-products, lamb by-product meal, avocado, corn, carrots, brown rice. It all sounds relatively healthy doesn’t it? Well here is some additional information that will make you think twice: One manufacture that promotes their kibble as a healthy and natural dog food has Avocado as an advertised ingredient. They Proclaim:

“Why the avocado? Many of the nutrients your dog needs for a healthy skin and coat can be found in the remarkable fruit known as the avocado. Nutrient rich avocados contain vitamins A, E and C in abundance. They’re also an excellent source of balanced nutritional essentials for your dog’s skin and coat health—and good health in general.”

Well, this is what the ASPCA had to say about avocados as a natural dog food ingredient:

“Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain a toxic principle known as Persin. The Guatemalan variety, a common one found in stores, appears to be the most problematic. Other strains of avocado can have different degrees of toxic potential. They can cause difficulty breathing; fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart; or pancreatitis.”

Now whose advice are you leaning towards?

The Main Ingredients in Natural Dog Food – Now here is where it gets a little tricky:

Is “chicken & chicken meal” and “poultry/poultry meal” the same thing? The answer is a resounding NO!

When a meat source is named such as chicken, beef, venison, etc that is clear enough but what is “meal”? A basic definition of meal is this: consists of meat and skin, with or without the bones, but exclusive of feathers/hair, heads, feet, horns, entrails etc. and have the proper calcium/phosphorus ratio required for a balanced diet.

Contrary to what many people believe, meat sources in “meal” form are not inferior to whole, fresh meats as long as they are from a specified type of animal, such as chicken meal, lamb meal, salmon meal etc.

What about Lamb by products and Lamb byproducts meal? Are they the same? Again the answer is no.

Byproduct meals, even if a species is identified (chicken/beef/turkey/lamb byproduct meal etc.) should be avoided because highly questionable ingredients may be used in these rendered products.

To make it more clear take a look at the chart below. High quality natural dog food should have the ingredients in the right column not the left

Natural Dog Food Main Ingredient Summary

Avoid: Generic Ingredients GOOD: Specifically Named Meats, etc

Meat, Fish, Poultry, Liver, Glandular

Meat byproducts, Fish byproducts, Poultry byproducts, Liver byproducts, Glandular byproducts

Meat byproducts meal, Fish byproducts meal, Poultry byproducts meal, Liver byproducts meal, Glandular byproducts meal

Meat and Bone Meal, Fish and Bone Meal, etc.

You get the picture!

Chicken ,Chicken Meal

Beef, Beef Meal

Turkey, Turkey Meal

Lamb, Lamb Meal

Duck, Duck Meal

Venison, Bison, Salmon, etc.

Other things to avoid:

  • Any food that contains corn (ground or otherwise) as a first ingredient, especially if corn gluten meal is also a main ingredient and no concentrated source of identified meat protein (e.g. chicken meal, lamb meal etc.) is present.
  • Corn gluten or soy(bean) meal as main ingredients. Note: Not all dogs tolerate soy products! Small amounts, especially of organic soy, are okay as long as a dog is not sensitive. There are only very few products on the market that include high quality soy ingredients, none of them sold at grocery stores or mass retailers.

Keeping your canine friend a healthy dog is confusing in today’s food market so we will continue to discuss the topic.   Come back and see us soon!