How to read a dog food label – Part I

How to read a dog food label – Part I

First in an informal series on commercial dog foods.

When you’re shopping for commercial dog food – canned or kibble – here is an important place to start: the first 5 ingredients listed on the label.

Even though dog food labels may list dozens of ingredients, it’s the first 5 that matter.

That’s because dog food ingredients are listed in order of weight, so the closer to the top of the list, the more of that ingredient in the dog food.

Let’s look at one notably horrible dog food and one notably good commercial dog food.

Ol’ Roy Complete Nutrition (dry food)

Ol’ Roy is the store brand, or private label brand, of Walmart. It’s manufactured by Doane Pet Food, which is owned by Mars Pet Food Division. Virtually any website that compares commercial dog foods rates this one at the bottom of the list. (Mars makes other cheap pet foods like Pedigree, Cesar and Nutro.)

 

The first 5 ingredients in Ol’ Roy

  1. Ground Yellow Corn
  2. Meat and Bone Meal
  3. Soybean Meal
  4. Poultry By-Product Meal
  5. Animal Fat

 

Are dogs corn eaters? No, but that’s the first ingredient and it’s CHEAP filler.

Meat and bone meal is a nasty mix of waste animal tissues, including bone. Very hard for dogs to digest. And what kind of animal does the meat and bone meal come from? Could be any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats…

Soybean meal does contain 48% protein. It’s probably included to boost the overall protein content of this food but it’s much lower quality than protein from meat.

Poultry by-product meal is made from slaughterhouse leftovers like chicken feet, backs, lungs and heads. If these leftovers are edible, they’re added to people food like bologna, sausage and hot dogs.

Not edible? Then add it to dog food, where it’s rendered (cooked at very high temperatures) until it is a dry meal.

Animal fat – again, what kind of a animal are we talking about?? If it doesn’t say, you don’t know.

And that means it can be spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle (the Three Ds of the meat world); road kill and even euthanized pets!!! It’s all legal.

AND, generic animal fat is often preserved with BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole). BHA is a suspected cancer causing agent. It’s also used in making rubber and cosmetics.

 

Mystery Meat

MEAT is great for dogs because it’s a source of protein that’s complete. It contains all all ten essential amino acids — nutrients dogs cannot live without. Plus, dogs can easily digest it, especially compared to inferior protein sources like corn or grain. But if the meat is not named, it can be literally anything, including

 

Whenever a pet food does not name the TYPE of animal, but just says “animal” or “meat” instead of, for example,  “beef” or “chicken,” your guard should go up. That’s because the meat can be almost anything, and changes depending on what’s the cheapest in the marketplace.

MEAT BY-PRODUCTS are even scarier – by-products are slaughterhouse waste. The stuff that they won’t even put in hot dogs! The stuff they sweep up off the floor at the end of the day.

Purina calls this –

“nutrient-rich organ meats”

Sorry, but the rest of the world calls it crap! For example… “deboned chicken” is  literally chicken meat that we’d eat. “Poultry by-products” can be what’s left after the ‘real’ meat is stripped off. Stuff like the head, the feet, neck and internal organs that no other food processor wants.

 

 

 

In summary, AVOID –

  • commercial dog food that has “meat”
  • instead, go for a named product, like beef, chicken, lamb, etc.
  • and avoid poultry, and go for chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
  • avoid by-products, meat or otherwise

 


Here’s an example of a label that you can understand, and that actually looks good.

Blue Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice

Blue Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice

Top 5 ingredients:

  1. Deboned Chicken
  2. Chicken Meal
  3. Brown Rice
  4. Barley
  5. Oatmeal

Now THAT sounds like something you’d want to feed to your Morkie!

 

To see how your dog’s food compares, check out Blue Buffalo’s web page Take the Test.

Best small dog food for your Morkie

Best small dog food for your Morkie

Feeding your Morkie right is vital. That’s because you can’t afford to fill up his tiny stomach with junkie food or unnecessary calories.

To stay healthy and happy, your Morkie needs protein, a good source of fat, some carbohydrates and key vitamins and minerals. And of course, these ingredients must be in the right ratio – too much of one or the other can be unhealthy.

What’s the best food for your Morkie?

When it comes to feeding your Morkie, there are so many choices.  It can be difficult to try to decide what’s best. And the more you read the more confusing it can get.  This is my personal recommendation based on research and experience with small dogs. It works well with picky eaters too.

recommended foods

This combination of good quality commercial food (both dry and canned) plus some raw treats and occasionally my own (dog food) cooking, has kept my dogs healthy and lively for many years.  Two of my Maltese lived past their 16th birthdays and I attribute a good diet to a large part of that. And plenty of kisses of course 🙂

If you’re new to small dogs, you might not know this: make dietary changes very slowly. Otherwise you’ll pay. With diarrhea mostly, but often vomiting too. If your Morkie does have an occasional upset stomach, you might find Pepto-Bismol does the trick.

 

Notice

The author of this blog is not a trained dog health professional. It is the reader’s responsibility to consult with a licensed, practicing Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine (DVM) (or equivalent in your country) before making any changes to your method of feeding, grooming or any other matter of dog care for any dogs for which you have any responsibility or contribute, in any way, to his or her care. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own Veterinarian.