Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What to Feed Fido: Some Quick Tips

Lately, many people have been asking us advice about dog food. To tide you over until September 1st when you can read the detailed, but pithy nutrition chapter in our book Happy Dog Caring for Your Dog's Body, Mind and Spirit, here's some information.
  • Learn to read labels. The length of the ingredient list doesn’t always indicate the quality of the food. The ingredient list must show the ingredients in descending order by weight. A protein from a specified animal should be the first ingredient. Avoid generic proteins such as “meat” or “poultry.” Although dogs like to eat some of the animal parts we don’t, proteins from a specified animal are better than by-products. Likewise, by-products are better than rendered meals and digests.
  • Watch for ingredient splitting. A manufacturer can list similar ingredients separately to make you think that it’s using less of a lower-quality ingredient. For example, corn is a mediocre, but cheap protein source. Rather than put it first, a manufacturer might order its list of ingredients this way: “Chicken, Ground Corn, Meat and Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Cellulose, Corn Germ Meal,” etc. Because Chicken comes first, you’d think Chicken is the main ingredient. However, when you add up the three “corns,” they could well outweigh the Chicken.
  • Don't fall victim to marketing. Just because a package is covered with beautiful pictures of fruit and veggies or uses the terms “natural” or “organic” doesn’t mean that the food is actually nutritious or healthful. You must read the label and see what’s actually in the food.
Remember, just as with you, Fido is what he eats! Obesity is a growing problem for dogs too. Feeding good quality food and treats will help keep Fido’s waistline in check. This also maximizes his quantity and quality of life.


  1. I recently switched my PWD to Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's soul. It is a bit more expensicve and you can't get it at the grocery store or major pet food chain, bt it as all top quality ingredients. The dog eats less of it because of the high protein content even though it costs a bit more. I try to avoid high grain foods for both my cat and dog. I have more concern about the cat as grains such as corn and wheat are not easily digestable for them. I am convinced my 13 year old cat, who recently died of complications related to diabetes, suffered the effects of eating a high grain diet early in life.

    I highly recommend the site below for an examination of pet food ingredients.

  2. Sarah, thanks so much for your comments! Our book has a very detailed discussion of pet nutrition too.