What’s in your Dog’s food

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Have you ever wondered what goes into your dog’s food? In some cases it is not easy to find out since the nutritional labels required by law for humans are not required. So what exactly are you feeding your dog and is it good for them? A dog’s food typically contains protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals, fats and preservatives in some proportion. All of those ingredients have been regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and have been deemed safe to feed to your pet.



Protein typically comes from the meat used like fish, poultry or beef. In many cases the protein comes from the parts of the animals that were not used for human food like the heart, the liver, tongue, throat, bones or feet. This can also be meat that has been deemed unsafe for human consumption in some cases. The raw food is taken to a rendering facility where the fat and other liquids are separated from the proteins and bones while being cooked, sterilized and either canned for wet food or dried for dry food and makes the food more digestible. Proteins give your dog healthier bones, muscles and tissue, provides energy and helps your dog function normally. Grains and vegetables can be added as well to help supply additional protein.


The percentage of each ingredient will be listed on a nutritional label (if it can be found or is requested from the processor) and is determined by weight, which include water weight as well. The dominant ingredient like beef or tuna will usually be the highest, sometimes as high as 95%, and this determines what the product can be called. If a food is labeled as a chicken dinner it will contain mostly chicken. If it is beef and liver then those two ingredients will make up the highest proportions (and the first ingredient has the larger amount). Some products are also labeled as dinners and will contain at least 25% but less than 95% of the stated ingredients. It is an important by easily overlooked distinction.


Carbohydrates  & Vitamins

Carbohydrates help to provide energy for a dog. Carbs can come from soy, beans, rice, oats, corn, barley, wheat and some vegetables. Most of these grains are also processed to help with digestibility.

Vitamins and minerals are vital to your pet since they no longer hunt in the wild where they could acquire these naturally. Typically they are added to the food as a powder or as a liquid and they help with digestion, the immune system, your dog’s metabolism and with keeping your dog’s nervous system healthy. Vitamins like C and E can be used as preservatives and can also work as antioxidants. B vitamins are added through biotin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and beta-carotene. Vitamins A,D and K are also common in pet food and are found in sodium, zinc and phosphorus.


Fats & Preservatives

Your dog’s food also contains fats. For them fat is an essential part of their diet and should not be avoided. It helps to keep their skin and hair healthy and it does make their food taste better. The fats are derived naturally and are either sprayed onto their kibbles or mixed in while the food is being processed.


Preservatives are necessary to making sure that the food doesn’t spoil, after all it may take time for the food to be sent from where it is processed to where it is sold and then it may sit on the shelves for days or weeks until it is purchased. These preservatives are typically chemicals (but they can be natural as well) and can use different colors, though animals cannot differentiate between the colors. That is probably so it looks more appetizing to their human. Preservatives are found in both wet and dry food and can also help to prevent clumping. Typically these are the hard to pronounce names that appear on nutritional labels like benzoyl peroxide or butylated hydroxyanisole and some preservatives are healthier than others. Some preservatives in the past have been found to cause cancer and some pet owners refuse to purchase products that use certain preservatives even today.


If all of these ingredients are present the food will have a label saying that is is complete and balanced and it should meet most dog’s nutritional needs. This is almost, if not all, dog food available on the market and the food that is found at your local supermarket or pet supply store is safe and healthy for your pooch. All foods on the market contain the above ingredients but not all are equal. Some foods, like Fromm Family and Zignature that we sell at Doggie DoLittle, use much more quality ingredients. If your dog has a food allergy or requires a specialized diet these might be what is needed as they use higher quality ingredients that are scientifically proportioned to ensure that your dog is eating the very best.


Reference articles:

Pet food labels – https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/ucm047113.htm


Does not the gratitude of the dog put to shame any man who is ungrateful to his benefactors? –Saint Basil