The quality of food eaten by dogs, as with humans, directly affects the strength of their immune system, weight and overall health. Consequently, when comparing dog foods it is important to identify the good, and bad, ingredients they contain.
Commercial dog foods seek to provide a balanced diet for your pet. While many dog foods boast extra benefits, such as joint health and weight management, their relative nutritional value is most important. Understanding the ingredients in dog food allows you to better understand how your dog is going to benefit from eating it.
The first five to eight ingredients listed comprise the most significant make-up of the food. The first five typically list quality protein sources, such as "chicken meal" or "beef meal," and not unspecific sources such as "animal by-products" or "poultry meal." A meat by-product should never be a primary ingredient, and corn products are hard to digest and undesirable, particularly as a primary ingredient. Grains listed should be those that are easy to digest, such as brown rice.
Ingredients to Avoid
When choosing dog food, avoid colourings, preservatives and unnamed sources of proteins. Even good dog foods may have undesirable ingredients, but large concentrations of them are unhealthy and will not provide balanced nutrition. Corn products, wheat gluten and brewer's yeast provide empty carbohydrates and may prove difficult to digest. Unspecific items are identified that way for a reason, as they are often ingredients deemed unfit for human consumption. Grease, bones, blood, ligaments and other by-products of human food may also be added.
Healthy ingredients should balance healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Healthier fats should be specifically named, such as "chicken fat" or "sunflower oil." Healthy carbohydrates include oats and barley, as well as rice, whose nutrients can be almost completely absorbed by a dog. Vegetables also balance a diet and should be included.
Comparing dog foods and finding those that are most healthy will help your dog develop a healthier immune system and weight, allowing him to eat heartily without consuming empty calories. A healthy immune system will also help prevent diseases.
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