Inferior grains such as corn, wheat, soy and “glutens” made of these grains are used to cut corners as cheap fillers to help dogs feel full. These grains and glutens from these grains also serve to add to the protein content, perhaps to ensure the recipe follows the minimum protein guidelines as suggested by the AAFCO. Keep in mind that
although it is indeed protein, animal protein is far superior to a canine diet.
2. Diverse Protein
Each protein contains a unique blend of amino acids, or building blocks, for the body. A diet lacking in diverse types of protein sources over time would cause deficiency in different aminos. This issue could easily be solved in a food lacking at least 3 types of different proteins by alternating the brand, specific recipe or supplementing the dry food with additional types of protein.
3. Vitamins A, C and E
Important antioxidants which work with the body to fight and neutralize oxidation of cells caused by “free-radicals” in the environment. Antioxidants can help prevent cancer, aging and bosst the immune system.
4. Omega Fatty Acids
Omega’s (types 3, 6 and 9) are naturally occurring, extensively researched, nutritional ingredients vital to healthy skin, coat as well as brain and eye health. A word of caution: Studies show Omega 3’s should be carefully balanced with Omega 6’s.
Prebiotics work to make a freindly environment for probiotics (“healthy” or “friendly” bacteria in the gastrointestinal system. Also promotes growth of probiotics. Keep in mind, only oligofructose and inulin meet scientific diet requirements
“Heathy” microorganisms that live in the digestive track and aid in healthy digestion. These would occur normally in a wild or natural diet. Specific probiotics you should look for would be Acidophilus, L. Casei, Thermofilum and Faceum
Contain a vital array of nutrients, including phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Fiber is great for digestion but also serves to satisfy hunger while adding high nutritional value. Fiber also helps keep the “full” feeling longer, whereas fillers that come from sources such as corn do not satisfy hunger as long.
8. Quality of First 5 Ingredients Listed
Simply by looking at the first five ingredients listed you can get an idea of what the food is primarily made up of because ingredients are listed in order of amount. Ideally, we like to see a meat as the number one ingredient and none of the inferior grains or glutens we mentioned before. A food will automatically earn points when a second protein source is listed within the first 5.
9. Animal Specific Fat Source
Dogs need nutritional components not found in vegetable fats. However, species specific fats listed is critical (i.e Chicken fat) . Beware of ingredients listing simply “animal fat” and possibly even “poultry fat”
10. Absence of unnecessary additives
Preservatives such as BHA or BHT have absolutely no place in pet food. Laboratory tests on animals have long since proven a link to cancer so why would anyone knowingly add this to pet food? Artificial coloring is another additive that makes us cringe. Any color added is to appeal to the human, dogs do not care what it looks like, only how it smells.