Herbs and Spices in Dog Food
Herbs and spices can be an important but often overlooked ingredient category when it comes to pet food. Herbs and spices have been used for centuries by humans add flavor and coloring to food and in many cases, to treat illness. They are also commonly used in commercially available dog food recipes for various reasons. I have analyzed the ingredient lists of over 2,500 dog foods and have determined the most commonly used herbs and spices.
Herbs and spices, which are often near the bottom of the ingredient list, can provide many health benefits to a dog. For example, turmeric, one of my favorites, and rosemary can help with gastrointestinal issues and as a way to reduce inflammation, among many other benefits. Herbs and spices are also used in pet food recipes for non-nutritional reasons because they can be:
A source of natural color
A natural flavor enhancer
A natural preservative
A natural source of vitamins and antioxidants
Every one of these benefits are better obtained from the use of herbs and spices rather than artificially created ingredients.
Commonly Used Herbs and Spices in Dog Food
The graph below shows the frequency of the more commonly used herbs and spices in dog foods. Rosemary is by far the most commonly used, followed by parsley and then garlic. Garlic is somewhat controversial because it can be harmful to dogs in large quantities. I did not include salt in the analysis but for those interested, it is in about 52 % of all dog foods.
Rosemary is a natural alternative to artificial, chemical preservatives which is one of the reasons it is so common.