Many of us are in the habit of reading our food labels, but do you do the same for your dog food products? If you are interested enough to read this blog, I think you already do. But for some just starting to, or wanting to, this refresher will help you demystify the bad ingredients hiding in some labels and help you make better food choices for your dog.

Dog Food Red Flags

Here are some of the red flags to watch for:


  • Animal Digest is quite possibly the worst ingredient you could feed your dog. It consists of unspecified parts of unspecified animals boiled down to a gruel. It often contains diseased and disabled animals from the slaughterhouse, road kill and euthanized pets.
  • Meat By-Products could be from a variety of meat sources and are the internal remains of the animal, do not include muscle meat and are considered unfit for human consumption. It’s the leftovers from meat processing plants that cannot be used.
  • Animal Fat is rendered fat from unspecified animals that can also contain rancid restaurant grease and oils unfit for human consumption.
  • Corn is a commonly used cheap filler. It’s an unnatural ingredient for carnivorous dogs so it’s difficult to digest. It is a leading allergen source for pets, contributes to making our pets sluggish and, over time, could develop mold or fungus which could lead to death.
  • Corn Syrup is used to sweeten the dog food. Over time too much sugar could lead to weight gain, diabetes, hyperactivity and changes in mental behavior.
  • Ethoxyquin is used as a preservative, but was developed to be a herbicide! Veterinarians have started linking it to kidney and liver damage, cancer, immune deficiency syndrome, blindness and leukemia.
  • Propylene Glycol helps reduce moisture and prevent bacteria growth, but it is found in antifreeze, hydraulic fluids and solvents! While it reduces bacterial growth, it also reduces the good bacteria in the gut (and the moisture) needed for optimum digestion. Some dogs develop cancerous lesions or blockages in their intestines.
  • BHT/BHA are both potentially dangerous and often found in our food too. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), used as a preservative, is often linked with kidney damage. BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is even more potent, is used to reduce food spoilage and has been directly linked with cancer in both dogs and humans.
  • Other Red Flags include beef tallow, oat/rice hulls, chemical additives or colorings and salt. Just bad, enough said.

Mind Boggling?

Feeling confused and frustrated, but you want to be a good dog mom? Start with reading your dog’s food and treat labels. What are the first five ingredients? If they are any of the above, consider moving to a more natural dog food brand. It may cost a bit more, but you will probably need less.

The upside to a better food is that your dog will probably remain healthier, live longer and have less diseases and trips to the veterinarian. And, you could keep costs down by substituting natural foods for processed treats – such as green beans and carrots. Either way, you’re on the right track. Bon Appetit, doggie style!

This blog is brought to you by Under the Weather™, provider of products for sick pets. Under the Weather produces a Chicken & Rice bland diet of 100% human grade white meat chicken and white rice for pets needing to soothe their digestive systems. No meat by-products, gluten free, no chemicals or dyes and made in the U.S.A.!

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