Red Flags To Avoid When Choosing Food for Your Dog

Corgi puppy with perky ears

There is a lot of misinformation online about which ingredients to avoid in pet food.  As pet parents, we tend to be swayed by ingredients that sound appealing to us and by creative marketing claims on the label. You may have heard that pet foods containing ‘meat by-products’ or ‘chicken meal’ are ‘bad.’ But, on the contrary, these ingredients are commonly used in pet food as they provide an excellent source of nutrition and the FDA strictly controls their quality.

Though the ingredients list doesn’t tell us the nutritional value of particular pet food, here are some red flags to avoid:

Red Flag One: No AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement

High-quality dog food should be labeled ‘complete and balanced’ and contain an Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional adequacy statement. AAFCO sets the standards for pet nutrition in the US based on current scientific research. Make sure to check the label, as not all companies measure up.

Diets can either be analyzed to check the formulation meets the calculated AAFCO nutritional standardsr or undergo a feeding trial. Though feeding trials do not precisely replicate years of daily feeding, they are still considered the gold standard in pet food testing.

Reg Flag Two: Very few ingredients

While pet food marketing often appeals to our desire to feed our pets in a similar way that we would want to eat, pet food should contain necessary nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals. A smaller list of ingredients doesn’t necessarily equate to a superior option for your dog.

Red Flag Three: “Raw” Foods

Raw food diets are increasingly popular as pet parents want to replicate a ‘wild’ or more ‘natural’ diet for their dogs. The WSAVA consensus is that raw food diets should not be fed to dogs and cats as there are currently no documented benefits, but there are well-documented risks for animal and human health.

Red Flag Four: ‘Exotic’ ingredients

‘Exotic’ ingredients such as lentils, peas, kangaroo, and venison should be considered with care due to the reported cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

Nutrition is a crucial aspect of your dog’s health and well-being. With an abundance of options available, selecting high-quality dog food can be a daunting task. For further insights, check out our article “Choosing the best food for your dog.”