Common Fruits and Vegetables in Dog Food
Fruits and vegetables are becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in commercial dog food recipes. Most dog foods contain one or more of these, with some of the higher quality foods containing a half-dozen or more. Which raises a question: which vegetables are the most commonly found in commercial dog foods?
Why are Fruits and Vegetables in Dog Food?
Although dogs are carnivorous, they can obtain many great health benefits from fruits and vegetables, including:
- Source of important vitamins and minerals
- Source of fiber to aid digestion
- Source of hydration
- Natural sweetness and flavor enhancement
The use of fruits and vegetables in dog food has increased over the years, in part due to the ‘humanization’ of pet food. Consumers are becoming more aware of how to read the pet food labels and are demanding (with their wallets) to see more real, whole foods in the ingredient panel. In years past, pet foods would contain few fruits and vegetables and rely more on vitamin and mineral supplements to provide balanced nutrition. Although these older formulations technically met AAFCO guidelines for complete and balanced meals, vitamin and mineral supplementation, especially with isolated or laboratory created synthetics, are not as nutritious as whole foods sources, and in some cases can negatively impact a dog’s health.
Most Common Fruits and Vegetables in Dog Food
I analyzed thousands of dog foods to determine the most common fruits and vegetables in dog food. The graph below shows the results of my analysis.
Carrots and peas are at the top of the list. Carrots add sweetness and color and provide a wide range of vitamins. That peas are near the top is no surprise as they are often used, among other things, to enhance the protein content in foods. The rest of the list is mostly as I would expect, although I am somewhat surprised to see kelp and broccoli are so common. I would have also expected sweet potatoes to show up more frequently as it seems to me that they have become a dog food staple. Perhaps over the next few years, we will see them move closer to the top of the list?
In my next post, I will review the Chinese medicine categorizations of some of these commonly used fruits and vegetables.