Be a Label Reader
Do One Thing: January 2019. This article is part of the 2019 "Do One Thing" series, which focuses on one small project we can do each month to support our dog's health.
Welcome to the first installment in my year long series, Do One Thing!
The first step in working towards your dog's best health is to examine the ingredients in his current food. What we feed our dogs matters. We have the power to proactively choose food for our dogs that will encourage their best health. Too often pet parents choose a brand of food for their dog because someone at their vet's office, or the pet store claimed: "it's a really good food," and they never look to see what's actually in the food.
Maybe the food is good... and maybe it isn't.
Your assignment for January ...
Locate the ingredients label on your dog's food and read, out loud, the entire list of ingredients. If your dog is nearby, you can read out loud to her; she'll love that! For kibble feeders, the ingredients list is on the back of the bag. For raw feeders, the ingredients label might be on the package, or you might have to go to the manufacturer's website to get the information.
Some of those ingredients are quite a mouthful to say, aren't they!
Next, ask yourself a few questions ... does this sound like food my dog, a carnivore, should be eating for months or years? Do these ingredients seem like something a human would eat? Do these ingredients even sound like real food? Added synthetic vitamins, minerals, flavours, colours and preservatives aside.
Let's give ourselves credit for knowing what is real food, and what isn't real food. While the average dog owner likely isn't familiar with the minimum and maximum numbers of macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients required by our dogs, we can at least decide for ourselves if the fist six or seven ingredients in our dog's food sound like actual food.
Please do not allow yourself to believe that a lifelong diet of animal by-product meal and corn gluten meal is in your dog's best interest.
Your dog can't read what's in his food and make decisions about what gets put in his bowl (although I have heard about some very intelligent Border Collies), so we must make good choices on his behalf.
Already feeding a species appropriate diet? Read the ingredient label, and the meat, organ, bone percentages if provided, and see if those numbers fall within ranges suggested by many raw feeding experts.
Click here for my article about choosing commercial raw dog food.
This small act of discovering what is actually in your dog's food (despite what the front of kibble bag may lead you to believe) is an important step in becoming a more informed dog parent, which will lead you to make good food choices on your dog's behalf.
Some of you might like to extend your knowledge of dog food ingredients. I recommend these blog posts from D. Judy Morgan, who is a fantastic integrative veterinarian:
Once we know better, we can do better.