At Hounds Lounge, we believe that dogs deserve a grrreat life spent bonding with their hoomans at home and playing with furriends at doggie daycare. However, a pooch’s diet is also critical to their quality of life. Dog food is a woof’s main source of nutrients, but not every kibble is created equal. In this blog, we’ll review ingredients to avoid in dog food, as well as healthy ingredients Fido will gobble up!

Dog Food Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

First, it’s important to consider that dogs of different sizes and ages have different nutritional needs. Large breeds, small breeds, puppies and senior dogs will all require different types of dog food. However, the ingredients to avoid in dog food that are listed below can be applied to any type of kibble.

Dog Wearing Bandana

Four Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food

When you’re shopping for dog food, look out for these ingredients. If you see them on the label, you can put the bag down and move on to the next.

1. Corn Syrup and Artificial Food Coloring

The sweetness from corn syrup and the artificial coloring from food dye are completely unnecessary and unnatural in dog food. The addictive corn syrup can cause dogs to eat too much, and some artificial food colorings can cause allergic reactions.

2. BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin

Just say “no” to these artificial preservatives. They extend dog foods’ shelf life, but they shouldn’t be a part of your dog’s life, as they can have harmful effects.

3. Rendered Fat

Rendered fat is a mystery ingredient that enhances flavor. Since its sources are unknown, rendered fat can contain toxins and host mold and harmful microorganisms.

4. Propylene Glycol

While propylene glycol is FDA-approved and safe for human consumption, it may not be the best ingredient for dogs. A big reason to avoid this artificial additive in dog food is because it’s known to be toxic to cats.

Below are a few more ingredients to avoid in dog food:

  • Melamine
  • MSG
  • Nitrates

While you shouldn’t fear the ingredients listed above, you should be aware of them and their potential risks. Ultimately, the dog food you choose comes down to what works best for Fido. Be sure to do your own research when choosing a dog food.

Happy Dog Eating

Five Beneficial Ingredients in Dog Food

While there are ingredients to avoid in dog food, there are also ingredients you want your pooch to consume! According to the American Kennel Club:

While meat makes up the majority of their diet, domestic dogs can also derive nutrients from grains, fruits, and vegetables. These non-meat foods are not simply fillers, but can be a valuable source of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A good dog food will contain meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits. The best dog foods contain high-quality versions of these ingredients that are appropriate for your dog’s digestive system.

Let’s dig into some doggone good ingredients!

1. Meat

As a general rule of thumb, meat should be the first ingredient listed on the dog food bag. It’s essential to your dog’s diet and a grrreat source of protein.

2. Vitamins and Minerals

We all know that vitamins and minerals are good for hoomans, but they’re also good for doggos! In the blog, The 10 Best Ingredients For Dog Food Every Pet Parent Should Know, Dog-Eared author Danil Ovechkin writes:

Dogs require that their food sources contain vitamins, including vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and choline.

Ovechkin later adds:

Minerals in dog food are sometimes referred to as “trace minerals,” because your dog needs them in such small amounts. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important! A mineral deficiency can lead to health problems including bone and joint disorders, impaired immunity, and anemia. Trace nutrients to look for on labels include zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate (iron), and manganese sulfate.

3. Healthy Carbohydrates

Hoomans are often taught to avoid carbs, but healthy carbohydrates are beneficial to both pet pawrents and their woofs. Carbs found in fruits, vegetables and rice provide dogs with energy – which they will promptly burn by playing.

4. Healthy Fats

Fats get a bad rap, but they are actually essential to your dog’s diet – and they keep his or her coat healthy and shiny! In their post, The Top 10 Dog Food Ingredients For Your Dog’s Good Health, Dog Food Insider notes to “[l]ook for high quality fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, fish oils, canola oil, chicken fat, and olive oil.”

5. Grains

You heard it here furrst: Grains are good for dogs! According to the AKC, “For most dogs, grains are actually a source of wholesome nutrients.” While grain-free dog foods have gained pawpularity, they should only be served to dogs with grain allergies.

Below are a few more beneficial ingredients to look for in dog food:

  • Fiber
  • Superfood additives such as pumpkin, kale and blueberries
  • Electrolytes

If your dog food includes these beneficial ingredients, Fido’s likely following a great diet! However, some pooches might have food allergies or restrictions that limit what they are able to eat. Read about alternative diets below.

Dog with Food Dish

Alternative Diets for Dogs

It’s a big deal to change your dog’s food and, even more so, their diet. Before starting any of the diets below, you should first have a discussion with your veterinarian.

Sensitive Stomach Diet

If your dog has tummy troubles, they might need to be put on a special diet. In their article, Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs, the AKC explains how to start the search for a sensitive stomach-friendly commercial dog food:

The first thing to look for is a food that claims to be “complete and balanced.” This statement means that the food is specifically formulated to provide your pet with all of the nutrients known to be necessary for dogs. Choosing a complete and balanced diet helps eliminate sensitive stomachs that result from nutritional deficiencies, and ensures that your pet is getting the nutrition he needs for healthy digestion.

After finding a complete and balanced dog food, the AKC recommends that you look at the ingredient label to help you make your decision. They also note that, “Finding the optimal diet for your dog’s sensitive stomach often takes time. You might end up transitioning him through several different foods before you find the one that works.”

If your dog’s tummy troubles are not remedied by commercial dog food, home cooked meals are another option. This leads us to our next diet…

Cute Little Doggy

Homemade Diet

For some dogs, the cure for their upset stomachs is a simple, homemade dinner of unseasoned, fully cooked chicken and rice. Some pet pawrents are beginning to feed Fido this kind of dish for every meal. A homemade diet can be a good option for pooches, but it’s important that all of their nutritional needs are met.

If you choose to be Fido’s chef, you absolutely must make a meal plan with your vet. It’s non-negotiable. To get the fur-one-one on which hooman foods are healthy for dogs to eat, check out our blog, Can Dogs Eat Table Food?

Impawtant Note: Because raw meats can contain harmful bacteria, dogs should only eat meats that are fully cooked.

Dog With Treat

Wet Dog Food Diet

Wet dog food is a common diet, but there are specific reasons why Fido might opt for the can rather than the bag. In the article, Dry Dog Food vs. Wet Dog Food: Which Is Better?, PetMD writer Heather Hoffmann, DVM breaks down the benefits of wet dog food:

  • Higher moisture content: Wet food may be a good choice if your dog doesn’t drink as much as they should, or if they have a medical condition that could benefit from proper hydration. One example would be a dog with a history of urinary or kidney disease.
  • Palatability: Canned dog food is often more aromatic and flavorful when compared to dry food. This may entice sick or older dogs to eat if their appetite is decreased.
  • Satiety: Wet dog food tends to create a longer-lasting feeling of being “full.” Increased satiety is useful in weight management, especially in dogs that seem to have a never-ending appetite.
  • Easier to chew: Dogs that have dental disease or other oral abnormalities may find wet food easier to chew than dry food.

Once you’ve figured out which diet works best for your dog – whether it’s traditional kibble or an alternative option – Fido can chow down with ease.

Dog Laying Down

Dining at Hounds Lounge

We take meal time seriously at Hounds Lounge. When your pooch stays with us for overnight dog boarding, we strongly encourage you to send them with food from home, with each meal packed in a separate zip lock bag. This helps them maintain their diet, even when you’re away!

Group of Doggies

Treat Fido to a Day of Play

Now that you know the ingredients to avoid in dog food, the beneficial ingredients to look for in dog food and the various alternative doggie diets, your pooch is set up for health and happiness. All they need to keep that tail wagging is a day of play at Hounds Lounge… Make a doggy daycare reservation in Arkansas now!

Hounds Lounge Doggie Daycare Arkansas

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