10 Healthy Dog Food Ingredients
Finding healthy dog food is a must for loving pet parents. Just like humans, dogs are what they eat which is why it is so important to keeping them happy and healthy for years to come. Research shows that a fresh, vet-balanced diet has an enormous impact on a dog’s well-being. A healthy diet based on the best, whole-food ingredients promotes increased brain function, improved sleep and overall health.
When it comes to commercially produced dog food, you’ll often find that there are some healthy ingredients as well as a lot of other potentially dangerous additives. Remember that ingredients are listed in order of weight. Look for as much of the good stuff at the top as possible and avoid any food with names you can’t pronounce.
Here are the most important components of your pup’s diet.
The most important component of your dog’s diet is meat! Every pup is different, but a general rule is that your dog food should be 30% lean protein – dogs will not thrive on an all-meat diet. The proper amount of meat helps dogs maintain a healthy weight and keeps their joints and muscles strong as they grow.
#2 Organ Meat
Organ Meats are right up there with lean, muscle-based proteins. Feeding dogs organ meats is critical to providing vitamins and nutrients for your pup. Avoid claims like “made with organ meat” and look for actual organs listed: heart, liver, kidney, and gizzard (for poultry) are the best.
After healthy meat sources, carbohydrates are critical. Carbs, like those found in fruit, vegetables, and rice provide instant energy for dogs, and are part of a balanced diet. Wheat, soy, and corn are considered lower-quality ingredients and many dogs are sensitive to these. Ideally, you should seek out carbs like kale, pumpkin, rice, and berries.
#4 Healthy Fats
Believe or not, fats are not the enemy! In fact, they are an essential part of your pup’s diet. Healthy fats such as those found in meats, do everything from encouraging proper cell function to improving your dog’s coat. Sources of good fat include: safflower oil, fish oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, and olive oil.
Soluble and insoluble fiber ensure a dog’s digestive tract is functioning properly, while also helping to maintain a healthy weight, prevent anal gland disease, and help avoid obesity. Finding the correct amount of fiber for your dog can be challenging, so if you’re not sure what’s right for your dog, be sure to contact your vet.
Electrolytes like potassium, chloride, and sodium should be lower down the dog-food ingredient list and can sometimes be found in whole foods like pumpkin (rich in potassium). However, they are important for almost all aspects of your dog’s health including muscle use and organ function. When a dog’s electrolyte balance is off, this can lead to kidney or other organ failures.
Dogs need food sources that contain vitamins, including vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and choline. Dogs can get the majority of their vitamin needs from natural food sources, sometimes dog foods will contain an extra boost. If your dog food is “complete and balanced,” you don’t need additional vitamin supplements unless recommended by a vet.
#8 Essential Fatty Acids
Most dogs can produce certain kinds of fatty acids on their own, but require two types to come from their diet: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can be delivered through fat found in poultry or meat, but omega-3 comes from sources such as flaxseed and fish oil. You need to make sure your dog food has both.
Minerals found in dog food are sometimes referred to as “trace minerals,” because your dog needs them in such tiny amounts. This doesn’t mean they aren’t important! A mineral deficiency can lead to health problems including impaired immunity, anemia, and joint disorders. Trace nutrients to look for on labels include ferrous sulfate (iron), zinc gluconate, and manganese sulfate.
Superfoods for pups aren’t a unique category, but they do deserve some attention. Superfoods are like superheroes of dog nutrition. The very best foods will leads these in their ingredients and include blueberries, pumpkin, kale, quinoa, and chia seeds.