Pet health: Dog food ingredients

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A dog looks at a bowl of dog food.

When choosing pet food for your dog, it is important to check the ingredients. Labels can sometimes be misleading and you may think you are buying a healthy dog food when the food is actually not healthy at all.

Checking ingredient labels and comparing ingredients will allow you to choose a truly healthy dog food for your pet, and help to ensure your pet maintains proper pet health.

The first ingredient you will want to look for is the meat or protein in the food. The meat, or the meal of the meat, should be the first ingredient on the list. Meat meals are only found in dry dog food. The ingredients are listed from greatest amount in the food to the least amount. The name of the meat should be specified in the ingredient list as beef, lamb, salmon, chicken, etc. Avoid foods that list meat, meat meal, or by product as an ingredient.

The second thing you will want to do is check for the source of fat in the food. Choose a dog food with quality fats like olive oil, flax oil, canola oil, and chicken fat. Avoid foods with fats that are not specified. These fats will be listed as meat fat, poultry fat, lard, or vegetable oil.

Grains may or may not be listed in the ingredient list. Grains are not an essential part of a dog’s diet. Avoid foods that list grains in the first few ingredients and foods that include corn of any type. Corn is cheap filler that adds no nutritional value to the food.

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Other ingredients to avoid include: artificial preservatives, soy, chemical additives, artificial colors and flavors, and artificial sweeteners.

For more information about which food is right for your pet, talk with your veterinarian.

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