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Pet Food Ingredients 101

When choosing a pet food, the most important thing to do is to read the ingredients list. Quality and nutritious foods for both dogs and cats should have a named animal protein (like chicken, salmon, or lamb) or animal meal (like chicken meal or lamb meal) as at least the first and second ingredient.

Many pet food ingredients SOUND fine, but do you actually know what they are or if they are good for your pet? Here’s a list of a few main ones that you may find in your pets’ grocery store or large commercial brand food:

Animal or meat by-products – By-products usually consist of rendered and ground animal carcasses and parts including heads, brains, bones, feet, beaks, hooves and intestines. By-products are a cheap source of poor quality protein and are often sourced from “4D” animals, roadkill, euthanized animals or restaurant waste. Further, meat by-products can contain tumors and other diseased meats that are declared unsafe for human consumption.

Artificial colors – Just like in human food, some companies use dyes to color foods, including Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6, to mimic the color of fresh meats and other ingredients to make the food LOOK more palatable. These have no place in pet food.

Brewer’s rice – Brewer’s or “broken” rice is the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacturing of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer. Brewer’s rice is an inexpensive form of carbohydrate, and does not contain the full nutritional benefits of whole grain brown or rice.

Chemical preservatives – Many pet foods still contain synthetic preservatives, such as BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin. Such chemical preservatives have been linked to a variety of health conditions, including cancer. Opt for foods that use only natural preservatives, such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), tocopherols (vitamin E), and rosemary oil.

Corn, wheat, and soy – These ingredients sound nice and healthy to humans, but in pets, corn, wheat and soy are common allergens for dogs and cats. They are also poorly digested by pets, although they are used as a cheap (but incomplete) source of proteins in inexpensive foods. Some corn and wheat can be fine in pet food as long as it’s not one of the main ingredients and your pet is not allergic.

Corn gluten meal – This is the dried protein by-product from making corn starch or syrup. It is used as an inexpensive source of protein, but is an incomplete protein source for carnivores.

Sugar – Sugar comes in many forms in pet foods, such as corn syrup and beet pulp sugar. It’s used to increase palatability and as a food preserver, but it can also lead to diabetes and weight gain in pets and contribute to behavioral problems like hyperactivity.

The foods you’ll find at Petagogy feature the best ingredients such as high quality meats; whole nutritious grains and starches like brown rice, barley and potato; natural preservatives; and fruits and vegetables. We also carry many grain-free food and treat options for those pets that are allergic or have trouble digesting grains. Come in and find out more about the high quality foods we carry. We’d be happy to help you select the best food for your pet.