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Finding a Safe Dog Food: Where to Start?

With the rise in awareness of the harmful ingredients often hidden in human food, the dangers in dog food ingredients are starting to get some attention as well. Restrictions for dog food labels can be very loose and not as protective as human food. Any point of a dog’s life is really an important one to be sure they’re receiving the nutrition they need to grow and develop. However as they age, the last thing they need is an excess of unnecessary or harmful ingredients that can add stress to their body systems and create additional health concerns.

We’re pretty used to turning packages over in the grocery store to peek at the list of ingredients we are going to consume. And it’s certainly a new habit we want to start for our dogs as well. Ingredients are required to be listed by weight and include every component of the dog food. It’s important for meat to be the first ingredient but keep in mind how it is written.

For example, according to the Association of America Feed Control Officials, “beef” would mean the meat of the cow but can contain some skeletal muscles like diaphragms and hearts. But before you get alarmed, they actually have some great nutritional value. People often think negatively when they hear a meat “by-product” listed, but they are often clean parts of the animal that aren’t included in the meat. They can be various organs that can have great benefits as well, but look into what kind of by-products they are because you want to know exactly what they are. Dog food websites should explain what kind of by-product it is and if not, don’t hesitate to contact and ask.

An important thing to remember about reading meat as an ingredient is that even if it’s listed first and supposedly the main ingredient, there still could be a string of components from corn for example, that grouped together could amount to more than the turkey.

It can feel overwhelming to find a food you feel good about giving to your dog when there seems to be such an extensive list of ingredients to avoid. Label reading is tricky because ingredient names can be deceiving or have multiple for the same one. is a great website to look up the nutritional value of the dog food you use or are looking to buy. You can search for the food in the top bar or browse through their “best dog foods” for large breeds, weight loss, puppies, allergies and more. They also have a good amount of information on the latest recalls and the ability to be notified via email when new recalls occur. Keep an eye out for our next blog post where we go through some of the most dangerous ingredients to avoid in your dog food.