10 Ingredients To Look For In A Healthy Dog Food
Looking for a healthy dog food?
Feeding your dog high-quality, nutritious foods is one of the best ways to keep them looking and feeling their best. Unfortunately, there are many dog food manufacturers who use clever packaging and marketing to make you think their dog food is a lot healthier than it really is.
So what should you look for in a healthy dog food?
What should you watch out for?
And how can you make sure you’re feeding your dog a high-quality food that is going to help them live a long, happy life?
We’re here to help you out. In this article we’re going to reveal 10 ways you can tell if a dog food is really healthy...or not.
First we’ll share 5 good ingredients that all healthy dog foods should have, and then we’ll switch gears and tell you about 5 bad ingredients that you should avoid at all costs.
Healthy Dog Food Ingredient #1: A Healthy Source of Meat
We’ve written about this before, but it’s so important that it bears repeating:
The #1 ingredient in any dog food should be a healthy source of meat!
As primarily carnivorous animals, dogs need protein to look and feel their best—which means lots of meat. Chicken, beef, duck, and fish are all great choices.
And another tip: if you’re feeding your dog a dry food, make sure the #1 ingredient is a meat meal. Most people don’t know what a meat “meal” really is, but that just means that the meat has been dehydrated so it contains a higher percentage of protein (and less water).
Healthy Dog Food Ingredient #2: Nutritious Vegetables
Just as veggies are a healthy part of a human diet, they’re also a fantastic source of nutrients for your dog. Unfortunately many dog foods ignore this fact and completely ignore this super-important ingredient.
But don’t let that deter you. It’s absolutely worth the time and effort it takes to find a dog food that’s full of healthy vegetables. Look for ingredients like spinach, beets, kale, carrots, and lentils.
Healthy Dog Food Ingredient #3: Digestive Aids (like Probiotics)
Digestive issues can be common in dogs, leading to symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. And then there’s the less well-known issue of nutrient absorption. If your dog’s digestive system is having issues, there’s a good chance they aren’t actually absorbing all the vitamins & minerals in their food.
Obviously, you don’t want that!
So you should be on the lookout for a dog food with digestive aids in the form of probiotics and/or prebiotics. Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria that will help keep your dog’s digestive system healthy, and prebiotics are foods with a certain kind of fiber that will “feed” those healthy gut bacteria.
Healthy Dog Food Ingredient #4: Healthy Fats
By now, most people understand that fat is not necessarily unhealthy. In fact, there are many kinds of fat that are essential to our health—and the same thing is true for dogs!
In particular, you want to look for foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. These are those heart-healthy fats that most modern diets are deficient in.
So what kind of ingredients should you look for to make sure your dog food has enough omega 3 fats? Keep your eyes peeled for two of the best sources of healthy omega 3s: fish and flaxseed.
Healthy Dog Food Ingredient #5: Healthy Supplements
If you manage to find a food that has all of the ingredients above, there’s a good chance that it’s a healthy dog food with lots of great nutrients for your dog. But the absolute best dog foods will also contain a few supplements to make sure there are no nutrients that your dog is missing.
Examples of healthy supplements include added vitamins & minerals—like vitamin C, zinc, iron, and calcium.
Another supplement we’re really fond of is glucosamine and chondroitin. These are joint-friendly ingredients that can help keep your dog’s joints healthy and pain-free, which can help encourage them to stay active.
Unhealthy Dog Food Ingredient #1: Corn
Let’s talk about corn in dog food. Is corn a healthy ingredient for your dog? Or is it something you should avoid?
You’ll find varying opinions on this debate. Some people will tell you that corn won’t hurt your dog.
But here’s the way we look at it: even if that’s true, even if it doesn’t hurt your dog, that doesn’t make it good for your dog.
Corn can be very difficult to digest and is fairly high on the glycemic index scale (which means it can cause blood sugar crashes). It carries a lot of potential issues when it comes to allergies and intolerances.
And finally, corn has a low biological value, which means that while it provides calories…it doesn’t give much in the way of vitamins or minerals.
To sum it up, corn really doesn’t have any redeeming qualities as a food for your dog. We recommend avoiding it.
Unhealthy Dog Food Ingredient #2: Soy
Soy is another one of those ingredients with a lot of confusion out there. Some people think of soy as a health food, while others think it’s terribly bad for your health.
So what’s the truth?
As you can probably tell, we’re not big fans. And here’s why:
Most soybeans in the U.S. are genetically modified (GMOs), which means they’ve been altered from their natural state. They contain a high concentration of “antinutrients” (which are substances that reduce your dog’s ability to absorb vitamins & minerals).
Soy also has estrogenic properties, which can be extremely problematic in males.
Unhealthy Dog Food Ingredient #3: Generic Animal Byproducts
We’ve talked about how important it is to have meat in your dog’s food. But don’t settle for just any meat!
There’s a difference, for example, between “chicken” and “animal byproducts.”
First of all, when the label doesn’t specify what animal the meat is coming from—when it just says “meat” instead of beef, chicken, fish, etc.—then you have no idea what that ingredient is coming from. In reality it’s probably coming from a variety of different animals.
And “byproducts” are just as bad. Animal byproducts could include feet, organs, hooves, or any combination of offal.
Our suggestion? Stick with high-quality meat so you know what you’re giving your dog.
Unhealthy Dog Food Ingredient #4: Wheat
In recent years, there’s been an explosion of people realizing just how problematic wheat and gluten can be for our health. Well, the same thing can be just as true for your dog.
Wheat is high in something called wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), which can be strongly inflammatory, immunotoxic, and neurotoxic. In other words—it’s been linked to digestive disorders, a decreased immune system, and adverse effects on the nervous system.
And that’s not even counting all the allergy problems associated with wheat.
So just steer clear of this problematic food. There are much more nutritious alternatives for your dog.
Unhealthy Dog Food Ingredient #5: Artificial Flavors & Preservatives
This should be an obvious one. Artificial flavors and preservatives are chemicals, plain and simple, and you don’t want to be putting that kind of stuff in your dog’s food. It’s not good for them, just like it’s not good for you and can play a role in many different health problems.
Instead, look for natural preservatives like ascorbic acid and mixed tocopherols.
Our #1 Healthy Dog Food Recommendation
Phew, you made it! Now you know the 10 most important ingredients to look for in a healthy dog food. Hopefully this makes it a little easier the next time you find yourself at the pet store looking for a food that will keep your dog looking & feeling great.
If you want our suggestion, we recommend checking out our Miracle Vet Super Premium Dog Food. It’s jam-packed full of all the good stuff that makes your dog feel great, and none of that unhealthy junk that causes all sorts of health issues.
So click here to check out our Miracle Vet Super Premium Dog Food. We think it’s the healthiest dog food out there…but feel free to inspect the ingredients label for yourself!