When it comes to dog food, the selections seem almost endless: Kibble, canned, semi-moist, breed-specific, holistic, grain-free, high protein, puppy, adult, all life-stages, prescription diets, raw diets….how do you choose?

At Crossroads, we provide food as part of our boarding services. We naturally want to provide the best food at the best cost. Recognizing that no single food will suit every single dog, but also recognizing that we provide boarding services to dogs of all ages, size, and breed, we needed to select a food that would best suit an overall general population. So, to educate ourselves, we set out on a dog food search. We would like to pass along what we learned so you can use this information to make the right choice for your dog. In first of a three part series, we look at what should and what should not be in your pet’s food.


What’s a Dog to Eat?

The best food will provide meat (i.e. beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish) as the top ingredient(s) followed by a carbohydrate such as potatoes or rice.

Many dog foods use the term “byproduct”. This refers to animal parts that are not used for human consumption and can include bones, organs, blood, intestines, fatty tissue and in small cases when listed as simply “meat byproducts” can include euthanized dogs, cats, zoo animals, road kill and the like. Lesson here is if you choose a food with byproducts, make sure it shows the specific origin such as chicken byproduct, or lamb byproduct, but best to avoid byproducts altogether.

With respect to carbohydrates, quality also matters. Dogs can absorb nutrients from white rice, but flour, wheat, corn and glutens provide little or no nutritional value. Also, avoid foods with non-specific grain source or foods with the same grain ingredient listed 2 or more times in the first five ingredients listed.

The best foods will also include fruits and veggies (other than corn), barley, flax-seed oil, glucosamine and chondroitin. Tocopherols and ascorbic acid are also ok.

Avoid products that use artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. Unfortunately, ethoxyquin is used to preserve ingredients such as fishmeals before they actually reach the dog food maker and so is not included on the ingredients list. You can call the manufacturer and ask. Natural preservatives are safer and include vitamin C, vitamin E, and Naturox.

Also avoid foods with artificial colorants, citric acid, brewers rice, corn, animal fat (other than fish oil), food in which lamb is the only protein (unless your dog is allergic to other sources), wheat, and salt.

So….confused? It can be a bit daunting and tough to remember. We suggest you write down the things to look for, and those to watch out for, in a dog food and take it along next time you go shopping for food.

Next week, we will look at protein, carbs and other ingredients that should be in a dog food and in what amounts…….you’ll want to include these on your list too!