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When it comes to feeding your family, you look for the best ingredients possible. You know how important whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins are for growing bodies and good energy. You also know that life just wouldn’t be any fun without a treat every now and then! Though we can’t always make the perfect choices, we do our best and that’s what really matters. So why should it be any different when it comes to feeding your dog? In this article, we hope to expose the poor quality ingredients in dog food as well as the top 10 dog food ingredients to feed your dog.

What You Need To Know About Pet Food (Dr. Mercola)

Not All Brands Are Equal

Everyone claims to be the best, right? From Artemis to Zignature, you’ll find a different brand for every letter. You can look at a list of the top 10 dog food brands out there, but the truth is, one brand can differ from flavor to flavor. For example, when comparing Nature’s Variety Prairie Holistic Duck & Oatmeal to Nature’s Variety Prairie Lamb & Oatmeal, you get many of the same ingredients that are wholesome for your dog. The main difference is that the duck version has duck and the lamb version has lamb. But, the lamb version includes brown rice, where the duck version does not. This is not going to be a problem unless your dog has trouble digesting rice. When you learn how to read labels, you can pick the right food for your dog’s needs. That’s why we will only be covering the best dog food ingredients. That way, you can make your own informed decision about which dog food to purchase for your furry family member.

VIDEO: Do You Really Know How To Read A Pet Food Label?

Check Out This Dog Food Finder!

Top 10 Dog Food Ingredients

Rather than going over the top 10 dog foods, we thought it might be more beneficial to list the top 10 dog food ingredients and let you make your own choices. You can also check out our more specific dog food reviews here. While it’s true that some dogs have different nutritional needs and sensitivities, these are the most important ingredients for excellent health and nutrition. Always remember that the ingredients are listed by weight; meats such as beef, poultry, chicken, or fish are likely to be at the top of the list. They often weigh more than ingredients further down the list that may offer more key nutrients but may weigh less.

1) Meat. This is the most important of the top 10 dog food ingredients. The protein source for most commercial dog food comes from real meat like chicken, beef, fish, rabbit, venison, and a host of other meat sources. You might see egg protein on some labels, which is good, but be sure that there is plenty of real meat that goes along with the egg.

2) Meat Meal. This is actually a very high protein source in pet food. When many people read the dog food ingredients on a label, the word “meal” throws them off. Meal is made from the actual meat that it describes. For example, chicken meal is ground up chicken meat that has been carefully dried to a moisture level of 10%. The protein content is 65% and the fat level is 12%. That means chicken meal actually has a higher protein percentage and provides far more beneficial nutrients to your dog than whole chicken.

3) Carbohydrates and Grains. As long as your dog does not have any allergies or sensitivities to grains, this can be a very beneficial ingredient. Grains and carbs are one of the things people don’t like in a dog food ingredients list, but they aren’t as bad as many claim they are. In fact, in the wild, wolves and wild dogs often eat the stomach contents of their prey first, which usually contains grains and plant matter. Carbohydrates provide plenty of energy for your dog and good grains can aid in digestion. Corn, soy, and whole wheat are considered lower quality ingredients, but rice, oats, barley, and peas are better. These should be lower on the ingredient list after meat sources.

4) Vegetables. Although it is not an ingredient that your dog needs to eat, vegetables in her diet can be very beneficial as they provide many vitamins and minerals. For example, sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, vitamin B, and beta-carotene as well as antioxidants that specifically help to fight against cancer causing agents.

5) Fruits. Again, not a detrimental part of a dog’s diet, but fruits like blueberries and apples are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants while cranberries may assist with urinary tract infections and help with dental hygiene by killing certain bacteria.

6) Fats. We all hear about the dangers of fats, but they really are necessary for proper cell function and digestion. They provide energy and help your dog absorb certain vitamins. Plus, they help keep her coat healthy and shiny. Look for high quality fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, fish oils, canola oil, chicken fat, and olive oil.

7) Vitamins. They help with metabolic, digestive and immune system processes, as well as helping to keep nerves and blood cells healthy. B-vitamins should come at the top of the list in the form of biotin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and beta-carotene. Vitamin A is important for your dog’s skin and coat. Vitamin E helps your dog’s immune system.

8) Minerals and Nutrients. Several minerals that are important for your dog’s health are zinc, iron, potassium, calcium, and manganese. Also important is L Carnitine, a nutrient that acts as a transport for fatty acids and assists in the cellular production of energy, and DL- Methionine, one of the 10-plus essential amino acids that are required by dogs.

9) Preservatives. Preservatives help keep your dog food fresh, so they are pretty important. However, look for preservatives such as tocopherols and ascorbic acid as these come from natural sources. Avoid BHA and BHT as these are preservatives that have been banned in human foods in many countries due to cancer risks.

10) Water. It’s one of the most important things to keep your dog healthy and hydrated, so look for a high moisture percentage on the food list. Always make sure you provide plenty of fresh, clean water for your dog at all times.

Though there are a lot of brands out there offering a lot of variation in dog food ingredients and they all seem to claim to have everything you need for the good health of your dog. If you take a few minutes to read the list of ingredients on each bag, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision that can lead to the excellent health of you best pal for life. And educated dog owner is a good dog owner!

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