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Sandra June 28, 2022

Why and How to Assess Your Dog Food

Do you ever think about the ingredients in your dog's food? Whether it's dry or wet food, the quality will significantly impact your dog's quality of life.

Feeding our pets - dogs, birds or others - poor-quality food increases their chance of developing an illness or chronic health issues.

Many pawsome companies genuinely care and focus on creating high-quality food and treats for our beloved pets. But even more, companies make food and treats with cheap ingredients that can negatively impact your dog's health in the long run.

Choosing good quality pet food is not easy! Most dry pet foods are based on grains, and dogs are carnivores who need to be eating a diet full of high-quality meats. Unfortunately, the protein in grains is less bioavailable to a carnivore because they lack the digestive enzymes necessary to digest plants.

How to read the labels 

  • Unnamed Proteins:
They are usually listed as "meat meal," "animal," or "poultry" products. These are generally the meats that companies discarded because they were unsuitable for consumption.

  • Artificial Colours, Flavours, Sweeteners or Preservatives:
These are ingredients you want to avoid! In particular, BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate, and other ingredients that are believed to be carcinogenic.

Looking out for "natural flavours" is important because companies are allowed to consider natural flavours proprietary - indicating they are not mandated to disclose what they use to make the flavouring.

There are better and worse preservatives. Preservatives extend foods' shelf-life, slow oxidative changes, and prevent fats from getting rancid. 

Preservatives to Avoid:

  • Ethoxyquin – This is a pesticide and has been linked to cancer.
  • Propylene glycol – An ingredient used in anti-freeze.
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – These chemicals potentially cause cancer.
  • Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) – This is a butane used to make varnish and resins that can cause neurological disorders, contact dermatitis, and predispose your pet to cancer.
  • Sodium Metabisulphite – A bleaching agent.

Natural preservatives that are okay:

  • Mixed tocopherols (vitamin E)
  • Forms of vitamin C (like ascorbic acid)
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Clove

Be Aware of Splitting:

Ingredients are listed in order of weight. So the heaviest - which makes up the most considerable portion, is listed first. 

The practice of splitting is to make the ingredient list look better. For example, a manufacturer might list the parts separately if there are large quantities of rice in the food. So, even when the total rice "products" make up 60% of the food, they can list the meat product first and then three or four different rice products separately, weighing less than the meat. 


Pet foods are commonly recalled because of pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals.

All these ingredients consistently over time can lead to devasting and serious health implications. Increasing your knowledge about what's going into your pet's body can help them live a longer and healthier life with you! ❤️