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Choosing The Right Food For Your Dog

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

Healthy, happy pups. It’s something every dog lover and rescue wants, but in a world with so many options, an over abundance of information, and marketing, things can become downright confusing. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 5 things you should know about what your dog is eating. That way you can spot dubious ingredients - and avoid buying products that don’t support your pup’s long term health.

1. Commercial Dog Food Is “Fast Food”

Heavily-processed foods (burgers, fries, tacos, etc.) as a big diet component can cause major health problems in people. How can fast foods be good for dogs?

Only dog food manufacturers think this nonsense makes sense. Dogs and people share roughly 75% the same genetic makeup, and we have similar nutritional needs. What we’re doing to our own health with processed foods, we’re also doing to our dogs. And it’s not supportive of long term health.

2. People Food Is Good For Dogs

The same fresh, nutritious foods people eat can offer your dog the nutrition he needs and save you a ton vet bills. It just takes a little education to learn the small differences between human and canine nutritional needs. (Hint: no onions, grapes or raisins.)

3. Grain-Free Links To DCM Are Inconclusive

Since announcing its investigation in July 2018, FDA researchers have observed that most dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases were associated with animals eating dry grain-free dog foods. However, dogs eating kibble with grain, raw, semi-moist, and wet diets were also affected.

Even though it’s not clear exactly what it is about these diets that may be connected to DCM in dogs, there are a number of possible causes.

For example:

Taurine deficiency (an amino acid)

Legumes, pulses (seeds of legumes), or potatoes as main ingredients

Pea or plant protein concentrates

Bottom line, it all comes down to what “grain-free” means in terms of the food and, of course, what’s best for your pet. A raw dog food diet is a good way to reap the benefits of a truly grain-free diet without having to worry about risks that come from fillers or ingredients used to replace grains.

4. Don’t Presume The Food Your Vet Sells Is A Superior Product

Mainstream veterinarians, like medical doctors, learn very little about nutrition in school. Much of what they do learn comes directly from large pet food companies, sales reps, articles, and limited studies.

If your vet hasn’t studied and experimented on his or her own with raw or homemade diets, it’s unlikely that he or she knows bad food from good. And if vets profit from selling one brand, and not another, they have a conflict of interest that may influence their opinions. (Some may even be prohibited by a manufacturer from selling more than one brand.)

5. Meat By-Products Should Never Be A Key Ingredient

Meat by-products are a nasty and cheap addition to dog food. Some of the unsavory raw materials used contain “4-D” meat: meat from dead, dying, diseased and disabled animals. Although appalling, each can be lawfully used to make dog food.

Add a little road kill, slaughterhouse waste, livers infested with worms, mill floor sweepings labeled as grain, and corn contaminated with high levels of pesticide (yes, really) and you have a recipe for ill health. The cheaper the food, the cheaper the ingredients, the worse the nutrition.

Best Advice

Do your research and diversify your feeding. Since no dog food can ever be perfect, consider using diet rotation to lower the risk of endlessly feeding your dog the same imperfect product, protein or combo of ingredients.


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