High Quality Dog Food

What is High Quality Dog Food?

a pile of high quality dog food

The quality of dog food depends on the type of ingredients that are used to make them. All the brands of dog food advertise themselves as the best dog food. The truth is many of them are actually not that good. This is because they use low-quality ingredients in their product. They sell them at lower prices because the low-cost ingredients are cheaper than high-quality ingredients. 

Lower quality dog foods use unnamed sources of proteins like grains and meat. They will not mention the name of the meat like chicken meat or fish meat but will just mention something generic like ‘animal meat.’ If they have been made from meat byproducts then the food will lack nourishment your dog needs.

Higher quality dog foods will not use fillers like grains or meat byproducts. They will have whole muscle meat, fruits and vegetables. This will benefit your dog in many ways that we will cover below.

Why Feed High Quality Dog Food to Your Pet?

There are many benefits to feeding high-quality dog food to your pet. 

Muscle Tone

Dogs need foods that are rich in protein to maintain healthy skin and fur as well as grow and maintain their muscles. High quality dog foods are a rich source of amino acids that are responsible for the growth and repair of damaged tissues. If you give lower quality dog food to your dog they may not get all the necessary amino acids that they need. 

This can lead to slow muscle growth and strength. Worse, it can cause your dog to feel hungry even after they have eaten, or tired from food not as nourishing as it could be.

Feeding them dog food that contains quality proteins will help them stay in their best shape, maintain muscle and contribute to their overall well-being.

Weight Control

High weight gain is a problem with many dog breeds. Feeding them lower quality dog food can make it easier for them to gain unwanted weight. Fats and filler carbohydrates are inexpensive ingredients used in lesser quality dog foods. Good quality dog foods will use high protein resources and complex carbohydrates that will provide whole nutrients and will reduce the likelihood of them gaining weight.

Their weight gain is caused by a few things.  The first is that the lower quality meats are not a good source of nutrition for your dog. It lacks many of the things they need, including some of the essential amino acids. The other reason weight gain is so common is that the fillers used in these lower quality foods are not absorbed by the dogs.

These fillers are only there to increase the bulk of the dog food, and lower the manufacturing price. The fillers pass right through your dog without doing anything for them nutritionally. Your dog may feel full after eating, but not long after they can be hungry again, begging for more to eat and gaining weight.

Higher Energy Levels

Lower-quality dog food is made from ingredients that either pass straight through your dog, or that is digested faster. Think about it like if you ate sugar. Sugar is very quick to be digested, and might even fill you up. But it’s not nourishing and usually you don’t think of eating a candy bar as a way to fill up.

High quality dog food contains better-quality ingredients that take longer to be digested. This gives your dog more energy, not just now but for hours into the future. Think about this as eating complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal. Something that can keep you feeling full, longer.

How to Identify High Quality Dog Food?

Different species of dogs have different nutritional requirements. Before looking for dog food, talk to your vet to understand what types of nutrients your dog needs. Once you get an idea about their needs you can have a look at the different types of food available in the market and then select the ones that use high-quality ingredients. Look at the Information on meat type, allergens, artificial sweeteners and toxins present in the food is also displayed. 

A few important things that you should look for are mentioned below –

Look for Specific Ingredients

Most high-quality dog food brands will mention the specific meat and grains that have been used in their formula. Meat is a rich source of protein and one of the most important things that determine whether a dog food is good. Different brands use different types of meat to make their product. 

The dog food that names the specific source of the meat present in the formula can be considered as higher quality food. You will find chicken meat, fish meat, beef meat or lamb meat mentioned on them. In contrast, low-quality dog food will not mention a specific name of the meat used. They will just list the source of protein as a byproduct of cereals, poultry by-product meal, or chicken by-product meal. Some may mention unnamed meat sources like ‘animal meal’ or ‘meat meal’ that are also low-grade resources.

An important thing to know here is some dog foods will mention ‘chicken meal’ or ‘lamb meal’ as their ingredients. These are not considered to be of lower quality than ‘chicken meat’ or ‘lamb meat’, just a different name for the same thing. Meat generally contains up to 70% moisture and 18% protein. Meat meals like ‘chicken meal’ or ‘lamb meal’ are prepared by cooking the meat which helps remove much of the moisture from the meat. High quality meat dog foods can be up to 65% protein and only 10% moisture.

Any of the following types protein will indicate that it’s a higher quality dog food:

  • Beef
  • Turkey (turkey meal)
  • Chicken (chicken meal, chicken liver) 
  • Lamb (deboned lamb)
  • Duck (duck meal)
  • Fish (deboned salmon, salmon meal, fish meal, Whitefish, herring meal, menhaden fish meal)
  • Pork (pork meal) 

Here are proteins to avoid:

  • Meat
  • Poultry (or Chicken) By-Product Meal
  • Meat and Bone Meal
  • Meat By-Products
  • Animal Digest

Something often ignored by pet owners is named carbohydrates. The better dog foods will not only name the source of the carbohydrates, they’ll name each source. An often overlooked source of carbohydrates for dogs is fruits.

Fruits not only provide necessary fiber for dogs, but it also provides a lot of needed vitamins as well as anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. If you find a dog food with any, or several of the following ingredients it will likely be a better quality dog food:

  • Cranberries
  • Pumpkin
  • Beets
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Ground Flaxseed
  • Quinoa
  • Kelp

Check for Artificial Ingredients

After identifying the type of meat the dog food has been made from we need to find out if any harmful ingredients are present in them. Some brands of dog food may have artificial preservatives like BHT, BHA and sodium nitrite. Foods containing these preservatives should be avoided. These are harmful and known to cause cancer. 

To make the food taste and look good, some brands may also add artificial flavors like corn syrup, artificial dyes or colors. These have no nutritional value and can cause health problems. Good quality dog foods will not contain any of these ingredients while low-quality food can contain several, or even all of them.

What are fillers?

All dog foods have some ingredients mentioned on their list that are known as fillers. Fillers are ingredients that are used to add bulk to dog foods. They contain fiber but do not have any nutritional value. Dogs also need fiber but in limited quantities and it should come from natural sources. True fillers are supplied from the fiber present in beans, potatoes, vegetables, beet pulp and tomato pumice. Some brands add artificial fillers like corn bran, wheat middlings, rice bran and hulls. These provide fibers but do not contain any nutritional value. They are simply added to increase the volume of the dog food, and reduce the manufacturing costs. 

What this does is it gives you more food with lesser nutritional value. Low-quality dog foods have high amounts of artificial fillers to increase the bulk of the product. Feeding your dog high amounts of filler can cause digestion problems and keep them from effectively absorbing the nutrients in their food. Always check the list of ingredients to see what type of fillers have been added to the particular dog food.  Dog foods that have high amounts of artificial fillers should be avoided. Buy dog foods that don’t contain any of the low quality fillers.

Common lower grade fillers used to bulk up food include:

  • Corn (Any mention of Corn)
  • Wheat (Wheat Flour)
  • Wheat Middlings
  • Soybean Meal
  • Animal Fat (look for specific named fats, not generic Animal Fat)

Check for Common Allergens

For most dogs, this will not be a problem, but like humans, dogs can also have food allergies. The most common food allergies in dogs are from corn, soy, egg, wheat and dairy products. It might be difficult to find out if your dog has developed a food allergy but visible signs of an allergy are itchy skin, vomiting, excessive licking or diarrhea. These health conditions can be caused by feeding them low-quality dog food.

Changing your dog food can help to reduce or eliminate these problems. If you find that your dog has an allergy, look for foods that do not contain common allergens like soy, wheat, corn and dairy products. 

Good quality dog food brands consider this when creating their formula. They may remove some or all of these common allergies from their formula to provide a good quality dog food that is rich in proteins and low in allergens, however it might be slightly more expensive.