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The 6 Deadly Mistakes People Make When Buying Dog Food…

There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and put forth from some companies with their dog food marketing. Some of these mistakes we see and hear when clients bring in their dog could end up hurting the dog unknowingly.  Through education and science, we can ensure our beloved puppies live long and healthy lives.

Before you read the 6 deadly mistakes, watch a video we made to help you choose the correct pet food for your pet. Just hit play!


  1. Falling for Marketing Gimmicks

Avoid terms such as holistic, premium, natural, human grade and organic. They all have various levels of regulation and most are not legally defined terms.

As an example, a product can only be listed as ‘human-grade’ on their label if they are made in a plant that is also approved for human products, it does not need to be made in the same area of the plant or with the same ingredients; also this regulation only applies to the food label itself, any other areas such as television, print advertisements or websites can still list the food as being ‘human-grade’ with no consequences.

  1. Diehard “It’s either Wet or Dry only!” Food Fanatics

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between a dry food or a wet food. However, there are benefits to both types and each dog will differ in their needs.  There are specially formulated dental diets that are dry foods and really do an excellent job in helping support the pet’s oral health.  Some dogs do need a higher water intake (such as those that have had urinary issues in the past) and in this case wet food may be preferable. Speaking with us will help determine the best options for your pet accordingly.

  1. “By-products” are evil!

Purchasing dog food that contains animal by-product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. Regulations indicate that nutrient rich organ meats such as liver must be classified as a ‘by-product’ when in fact they can be some of the best protein sources available for our pets.  Also, while chicken breast or leg meat will fall under the classification of ‘chicken’ it says nothing about the quality of the product, so chicken breasts that come from sick or malnourished chickens will still be listed on the label as ‘chicken’. Ultimately, going with a food company you trust (or talking with us) is the best way to determine what is best for your pet.

  1. “Dog’s Only Eat Meat!”

Dogs are both meat and plant eaters so do not need as high a meat level as some might think. Their diet should be balanced.  You can see this just by the different shape of your dog’s teeth – they have flatter teeth in the back of their mouth (similar to human molars) that are made more for grinding and chewing at plant based material, in addition to the sharper teeth at the front for meat.

Here is an important quote from Hills:

Some individuals believe that meat-based foods are more natural and thus better. However, meat is not the only protein source. For example, corn gluten meal and eggs offer high quality protein, too. High meat diets are usually excessive in calcium, sodium and phosphorus which are not appropriate for older pets. Higher protein levels do not mean that a food is of higher quality. After the protein / amino acid requirements are met, additional protein provides no additional benefits. In fact, excess dietary protein can even be problematic for dogs, especially when they get older. Protein intake needs to be carefully monitored.

  1. “Our dog is gluten sensitive” and other allergies

The most important factor in dogs with possible food sensitivities (chronic diarrhea, vomiting or skin issues are common signs) is the type of protein used in the food.  A great number of foods are chicken based so it is prudent to try finding a food that uses a different protein instead, good options include fish, duck, and venison (can also consider turkey, lamb and beef).  It is important to be very strict when there is a concern of food sensitivity, as any small amount of the ingredient the animal is sensitive to can cause a reaction.  It usually takes a good 6 weeks of strict feeding to determine if a new diet is working for a pet or not.  Other things to consider are the new trends towards ‘grain-free’ foods following from the human side with the recent concern about gluten.  As with people there are actually very, very few dogs with a true gluten or grain sensitivity, so it is unlikely that they really need grain free food.  However, as long as the food is well balanced and has the nutrients needed to support the dog, it can be a consideration.

  1. “Corn is a Filler and must be avoided!”

By definition, fillers offer no nutritional value and are there to “puff” up the food. Corn can be a very beneficial ingredient for our dogs when used properly

Here’s an important quote from Hill’s

Corn is an excellent ingredient because of the benefits it brings to the product. Corn is a highly nutritious ingredient chosen as a source of protein (for muscle and tissue growth), carbohydrates (for energy), fiber, antioxidants (Beta-carotene, Vitamin E, Lutein) and linoleic acid – an essential fatty acid that promotes healthy skin and a luxurious coat. While some individuals are concerned about allergies in pets, corn is NOT a common cause of adverse food reactions in pets. Studies have shown that corn causes no more food allergies than any other grain.

Corn is also highly digestible when cooked, higher than several other grains such as rice, wheat, barley and sorghum.

Hint: Be Aware of the AAFCO Statement!

Look for the AAFCO statement to help you make an educated decision on which food to buy. The AAFCO statement will be in small print somewhere on the side of back of a bag of food (or on the label of the can) and will tell you two important things about the product.

Firstly, the statements will either say this food is ‘formulated’ to meet the needs of the pet or it will say it has undergone ‘food trials’ or ‘feeding trials’ to meet the needs.  Feeding trials are ideal, this means that the company made up batches of the food and had it fed to living and breathing animals as the sole source of nutrition and then they were studied to see how they did on the food. Were their vitamin and mineral needs met? Did they grow healthily if they were a puppy? Did they become too fat or too skinny? etc. If the food indicates it was ‘formulated’ to meet the needs this means that they looked at the nutrient needs for pets as published by AAFCO and tried to calculate their ingredients to meet these needs, the food was never actually fed to any animals before it was released onto the public market; this can mean that your pet ends up being the “guinea pig” for these foods.  There is a famous story out of Australia where a company started making food out of camel meat as a new option for dogs with food sensitivities, this food did not undergo any trials and it was discovered after the fact that camel meat can actually contain a toxin that made dogs get sick and die.  This is an extreme example obviously but does illustrate the benefits of the feeding trials.

The second thing the AAFCO statement will tell you is whether the food is for growing puppies, for maintenance of adult dogs, or for all life stages.  It is important to choose a food that is appropriate for the age of each dog but don’t be fooled by foods that indicate they are ‘all life stages’ – this indicates that it must be appropriate for any dog that you could feed it to, meaning that it is actually a puppy food (as they need higher levels of nutrients to grow healthy and strong compared to an adult dog), so if you feed this food to an adult animal they are more likely to become overweight.

Do your research and find information about each brand on the company website or call the company directly if you are looking for information on where their ingredients have come from. If it is a reputable company, they will be happy to give you answers.

As always, we provide free, friendly advice…just call us!