Best And Worst Ingredients In Dog Food

Best & Worst Ingredients in Dog Food

We want to do the best we can for our pets. But, unfortunately, cheap dog food brands make feeding them right hard. Some cheaper dog foods pack in a multitude of fillers that are unhealthy and oftentimes dangerous. With prolonged feeding of these foods, your dog will suffer from lack of nutrition and even increased risk of digestion, immune, and heart issues caused by the low-quality ingredients in their food.

Requirements For A Dog’s Nutrition

Dogs, much like humans, need three main nutrients in their diets; protein, fat, and carbohydrates.  There are different percentages of these nutrients necessary for the optimum health for your dog.  And of course, other factors determine the percentage as well, such as the type of breed, how active your dog is, and the current status of their health.

In addition to these three nutrients, there are vitamins, minerals, and other key ingredients that are necessary for your dog’s health, which you will find further down in this article.


Protein helps dog’s grow and build and repair muscles. Protein also is a key for keeping cell functions balanced to keep your dog healthy.

Most protein should come directly from animal-based meat, such as chicken, fish, and beef. Making sure it is quality meats and not meat by-products as some dog foods have those listed as their ingredients.


One of the key energy sources is fat, as it is a concentrated energy source and helps your dog to absorb the vitamins and other nutrients in their food.   Dogs that are highly active need a higher amount of fat in their diets for more energy.  Also dog’s that have kidney problems require more fat in their diet in order to help absorb more nutrients.


There are certain carbohydrate sources that should be included in your dog’s diet such as potatoes, beans, fruits, vegetables, and certain grains. These will give your dog proper amounts of fiber for your dog’s intestinal balance, and provide proper nutrients as well.  Beet pulp is a good example of a high-quality fiber. The proper fiber source is a key for your dog’s health.


Other Nutrients

As I mentioned earlier, there are other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and other key ingredients needed for your dog’s health.   I have explored many of the dog food brands, and have a list of the best dog foods for optimum health.   In addition, you want to look at choosing a Hypoallergenic Dog Food as some dogs have allergies and/or sensitive stomachs.

First Step is to examine the ingredients.

You can of course, find this information on the bag itself, or you can go to the manufacturer’s website.

The Ingredients List

The ingredients list will show you exactly what is in their dog food.  It will list the ingredients starting with the heaviest weight.   You want to look for any controversial ingredients that may not be good for your dog. (see below for information about these ingredients).

Analysis List

Look at the Guaranteed Analysis list on each dog food brand.  The label will give you the amount of protein, fat, fiber, and moisture content in percentages.  In addition some labels, might show you the amount calcium and phosphorus as well.

Next Step Is To Look Out For Misleading Things

Watch out for clever phrases such as, “Natural”, “Holistic”, and “Human-Grade” that are on dog food labels.  These are marketing terms, and don’t have any legal guidelines or standards.

List of Bad ingredients

There are some dog foods that use cheap fillers, which can lead to poor health in your dog. They should be avoided and instead choose a high-quality dog food instead.

  1. Meat By-Products

Watch out for dog food that list, “Meat by-products” as that is just a ground up remains of animal and is not of guaranteed high-quality.  Another one is “poultry by-products”, which again is a ground up remains of chicken and not of high-quality standards.

  1. Chemical Preservatives

Here are the main chemical preservatives that can be found in some low-quality dog foods.

  • Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Ethoxyquin (a herbicide that has shown to cause medical conditions; kidney and liver damage, cancer, immune deficiency, blindness, and leukemia.
  • Propylene Glycol (PG) (a type of anti-freeze that is can

BHA and BHT can cause kidney damage and have been proven to cause cancer in both humans and dogs.

  1.  Bad Additives

Look out for these additives, which are not good for your dog.

  • Corn, Wheat & Soy
  • White Rice
  • Onions
  • Grapes
  • Garlic
  • Sugar
  • Food Dyes. Many people are waking up to the adverse health effects of unnatural dyes in both human and pet food. You should be sure to avoid Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, and 4-MIE for certain but you’re best off avoiding dyes altogether—high quality foods will not use them at all.
  • PG, or Propylene Glycol.
  • Rendered fat. 
  1. Grain-Free Dog Food

One type of dog food that is becoming increasingly popular is grain-free dog food. Some dogs have allergies to grains and research has shown that it can slow down your dog’s digestive system.  Make sure you purchase dog foods that do not contain wheat, corn, or soy grains for optimum dog health.

What To Look For:

Here are some tips for finding high-quality dog food:

  • Rather than meal or by-product, look for foods that have Beef, Chicken, Lamb or another protein as the first ingredient. Meal might come later in the list, but it should be the secondary source, not the primary source.
  • You might have to skip past the big name dog food brands to find a truly high-quality solution. Smaller brands might be lesser known to you, but all you have to do is compare the ingredients list to see which food is the best—forget about commercials, marketing tactics, and the “big names” if you truly want to find a great dog food.
  • If you find a dog food that has any food dyes whatsoever, chances are, it’s low quality. No high-quality dog foods use food dyes in their product because there is simply no reason to (other than human marketing tactics). Skip any brand that uses food dyes.


In addition to offering your dog a high-quality dog food, you might also need to supplement their diet with a pet supplement to help support their health and give them the full range of vitamins and minerals they need. Some of the more popular supplements include gels, liquids, and pills that give a range of nutrients to help support join and overall health.