Finding the best and healthiest dog food for your pet can be a hard thing to do. We are going to look at some simple ways that you can make this distinction for yourself. Advertising gimmicks and marketing campaigns can make even the deadliest and mal-nourishing foods seem like healthy options for your dog. Properly nourishing your dog can prevent a host of diseases and ailments that can develop due to malnutrition. Some simple education is your best defence.

Great Ingredients make great dog Food "It's all on the label"

One of the best things that has happened in the last 20 years in the food industry for humans is the standardization of the nutritional information label on food packaging. (You know the label that you look at every time you eat a a bag of chips or a chocolate bar to see how much fat and sugar you are about to inhale!) I think that we can all agree that knowledge is power, and knowing exactly what you are eating can be one of the first steps to health in this modern fast food world. As far as dog food goes, the companies that manufacture your dogs food are also required to list the ingredients, but the problem is most people either don't know what the nutritional information or ingredients mean, or don't care. If you are reading this than you probably don't fall into the second group. So if you take the time to learn a little about the labels it will better equip you for purchasing the best and healthiest food for your dog.

List of Ingredients

As most people know when you are looking at the ingredients for your food, the ingredient that is most prominent in the food is listed first. This is determined by weight, so whatever ingredient is listed first is the ingredient that most makes up your dogs food by the pound. As with human food sometimes understanding the ingredients is a battle in itself. As you will know if you have ever wondered, "just what exactly is high fructose corn syrup and sucralose?" With that in mind, also be aware that some manufacturers will attempt to disguise the true make up of ingredients by breaking one ingredient down into four or five elements to hide the true amount of undesirable ingredients in the food.

So, what are undesirable ingredients?

Meat By-Product – Whether it is chicken, beef, lamb or pork. Stay away from meat by-products. They can include virtually any part of the animal. The head, the feet, brain, liver, intestines, (sometimes with feces still inside) blood, bones and hair. There is very little actual "meat" in meat by-product.

BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin – These are strong and toxic preservatives. Exposure to ethoxyquin has been believed to be the cause of many different types of cancer when humans were exposed to it.

Corn or Corn Meal (especially if listed in the top 4 ingredients) – This is basically filler with little to no nutritional value.

Generic grain – Ground Brown rice, brewers' rice and rice flour are all low nutrient filler products.

Artificial colors – These can be listed as FD&C, Red#3, Red#40, Yellow #6 and Sodium Nitrate.

Soybean/Soybean Meal – Dog food manufacturers use this as a very cheap way to increase the protein in dog food and other pet food. It can be difficult to digest, and it is known to cause gas build-up and has been linked to bloat which can be life threatening to dogs.

How much" food" is in your dogs food?

When reading labels you are looking for a healthy mix of protein, fat and fibre. One thing to be aware of is the moisture level in your dogs' food, this can skew the percentages and give you an unclear picture. This can widely vary from food to food and whether your food is wet or dry. The reason that this is important is because if your dogs' food contains a high moisture level you are getting less food and more water per pound. If your dogs' food has 6% moisture, than the other 94% is the dry material that you will calculate the protein, fat and fibre. If the moisture level is 30% than this obviously changes how much food your dog will need to meet its daily nutritional requirements. Every breed is different and will have different nutritional requirements depending on their size, body type and activity level.