There was a time when high-quality, safe pet kibble was hard to come by. Thankfully some in the industry has caught up to current research about how to feed our beloved pets without the fillers and poisons once deemed essential. But how do you know what’s safe for your pet? Here’s a handy guide to help you decide which ingredients to avoid:
High in starch and carbs, legumes, in general, shouldn’t be the first ingredient on any pet food label. Peas are commonly used as an inexpensive source of protein but are actually considered an anti-nutrient. Legumes bind onto vital minerals such as copper, magnesium, zinc, and taurine and eliminate them from the body before they can be absorbed. Not ideal for Fido or Frisky. Also, pay attention to labels that include peas in multiple forms. A little is okay, a lot is not unless it’s sprouted in which case it’s fine.
It’s easy to assume that this natural derivative of kelp is a healthy source of vitamins and minerals. The problem is it is just one component of seaweed, used solely as a thickener. Research shows that carrageenan is linked to inflammatory bowel cancer. Avoid this one at all costs.
Most pet owners know to look out for meat by-products, which essentially contain all the parts of an animal not fit for use elsewhere. Gross. However, most don’t realize that by-products of any kind are no good. Vegetable parts such as corn silk and husks, basically whatever is left on the floor are all considered by-products. Do you really want to feed your pet the throwaways? Avoid this one at all costs.
So here’s what you need to know about meal: When the butcher is done processing an animal, the carcass will be ground up and sold as meal. This includes parts such as beaks, fur, snouts, feathers, feces, hooves, all things that your pet does not know how to digest. Not so great. The only meal I endorse is fish meal processed by the brand Grizzly Pet Products. They do all of their own processing. It’s clean and nothing ends up on the floor. So with this exception, avoid this one at all costs.
Used to enhance flavor, MSG is an amino acid known to damage cells. Side effects include depression, fatigue, and obesity. There are a number of names that can be used on packaging to refer to MSG including hydrolyzed protein, textured protein, yeast extract, maltodextrin, seasonings, natural flavor, and glutamate. The list goes on, so stop by the store and I’d be happy to share the full list. If the quantity falls under 1%, manufacturers are not required to list MSG on the package. They are required to tell you if you ask—so ask!
Corn, Soy & Wheat
Quinoa, rice, and oats are okay for dogs occasionally, but they should never, ever consume corn, wheat, or soy. GMOs should also be avoided at all costs. Grains are high in starch and carbs, often heavily sprayed with pesticides, which are carcinogenic, and are prone to mycotoxins as the result of storage, so always be sure to buy organic.