What’s Really in My Dog’s Food?

What's Really in My Dog's Food?

I have been in the pet food industry for over 15 years and in that time I believe the marketing of pet food has become much more misleading.  Is the word ‘Holistic’ marketing hype when it comes to pet food? The short answer is that it can be.

Not all Things ‘Holistic’ Are Healthy

There is no legal definition for the term ‘Holistic’ so companies can use it as they wish. I recommend reading into the label and past the title to find out what holistic means for that particular product. For me, the term Holistic represents the philosophy that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  For example whole grain brown rice is better than dividing the product up into rice bran, rice flour, etc.

What to look for in a ‘Holistic’ pet food:
  • Only natural ingredients are used. No chemicals or artificial anything. No antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or dyes.
  • The pet food uses whole grains, fruits and vegetables. No processed parts or by-products of ingredients.
  • The ingredients chosen for the recipe are selected to benefit the animal. They are not there to make the food more appealing to the pet owner or to entice your pet to eat something they normally would not.
  • The food contains enhanced vitamins and chelated/proteinated minerals.
Some of the most common tricks pet food manufacturers pull on consumers:
  • Saying the first ingredient is a fresh meat ingredient.  In fact, fresh meats are around 75% water so if the water weight is taken into account the second ingredient on the label is really the first ingredient.  (the water in the meat source is cooked off during the making of the food.)  You will often see corn, wheat and potato protein ingredients at the top of the ingredient label.  These ingredients are there as a protein source for the food and are not nearly as good of a protein for your furry friend as a meat protein.
  • Ingredient splitting.  This is the practice of using several different processed parts of an ingredient so that they can list them down the list of ingredients. (ingredients must be listed by weight, the most common ingredient first). 
  • Using By-products.  By definition by-products are ‘secondary products produced from principle products’ in other words, what is left after the good stuff is taken out.  By-products should be avoided.
  • Advertising images on bags and in their marketing.  Those wonderful pictures of mouth-watering ingredients that they have in ads or pictured on their bags are nonsense.  The ingredients they have pictured cost quite a bit per lb. and they are selling this to you in a food for around $2 per lb.  They are using misleading marketing tactics in an attempt to fool you.
One of the best-selling dog foods ingredient label
    • Chicken, Rice Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Whole Grain Wheat, Soybean Meal,…
  • They have chicken as the only obvious protein source, but the only purpose of the Corn Gluten Meal is as added protein.  The majority of protein in the above referenced food could be from plant sources.
  • They have split the corn into two ingredients because it would most likely be the first ingredient if they did not.
  • They use by-products.
Other ingredients you should avoid feeding your pets:
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
  • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Food Dyes
  • Artificial flavors
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Corn Syrup
  • MSG

We all know the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Make sure to read the label and not just go for the best sounding name or prettiest bag!

Thor Wendlend is the Owner of The Pet Pantry and lives in Apex, NC with his family. The Pet Pantry offers premium nutrition for pets along with reliable home delivery in the Triangle area.

If you’d like to try home delivery from The Pet Pantry, please navigate to their website: The Pet Pantry to receive $15 off a $30 purchase use COUPON CODE:  PEAK CITY