Top Ten Things People Don’t Know About Dog Food: Part 2

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Last week, I began a list of things that people don’t know about dog food. Continuing on with this theme, here are two more facts that are not common knowledge to pet parents.

TopTen Things 2

Grain free dog food is not low carb dog food, nor is it necessarily better.  Grain free diets are all the rage.  Yet, many people don’t even know why a grain free diet is beneficial to a dog.  Many people equate grains with carbs, and thus believe that grain free must mean low carb.  This is not the case.


Furthermore, many people have been led to believe, mostly through pet food company marketing, that grains are bad for dogs.  In fact, grains are not inherently bad and some high quality grains can provide tremendous health benefits to pets.  Avoid refined and processed grains like white rice.  And skip the grains that provide little nutrition to a dog or that will mess with blood sugar levels.  Things like wheat and corn.  Conversely, whole grains like quinoa, barley, brown rice, and oats can, in moderation, offer many nutritional benefits to a dog.


“Natural flavor” is not necessarily a healthy ingredient.  Natural flavor is a flavoring additive that is present in many pet foods and treats.  Even though natural flavors sound perfectly healthy, unfortunately, it is hard to know exactly what this ingredient really is.  Often the flavor is extracted using a chemical process using unnamed ingredients, like ‘digests’.  Hardly natural and certainly of unknown origin.


Just how common is natural flavor? More common than I would want.  My analysis of almost 3,000 dog foods shows that natural flavor is in 39% of all dog foods.  Natural flavors are more common in dry foods, appearing in 43% of the dry food recipes.  In wet foods, this ingredient is used in 33% of the recipes.


The pet food industry has obviously relied a lot on natural flavoring to increase the palatability of the commercially available pet food.  Yet, it seems to me that a dog food that contains ample amounts of recognizable, named meats and fish (e.g. beef and salmon) along with whole fruits and vegetables, should taste good enough to a dog without the need for extra flavorings.

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  1. wow… I had no clue what natural flavor really means… or more what it means not. thanks for such a great post, I’m smarter now … and I will read the packages twice or more now…
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog TRAVELOG TUESDAYMy Profile

  2. Although kibble seems like a convenient solution, in the long run it’s more often trouble. There is nothing like whole foods for a more nutritional balanced diet. Since my huMom took me off kibble (we won’t mention the brand but it was of the highest quality in terms of kibble) my skin & ears have cleared up, my coat is shinier than it’s ever been & so soft to touch that sometimes my people can’t tear themselves away from me 😉 Thanks for the informative blog post Slimdog, You helped us feel even more confident about removing kibble from my diet.
    CEO Olivia <3 nose nudges <3
    CEO Olivia recently posted…Dogs Who PaintMy Profile

  3. I always wondered about the flavor part. No matter what food the pups have tried and no matter what the major protein is, they attack it voraciously. I can’t tell if it’s because they like the taste or just because they’re all around food crazy.

  4. There is just way too much to know about food!
    Emma recently posted…Dental Chews For Dental Health #ChewyInfluencerMy Profile

  5. Natural flavoring is pet food and human food more than necessary. I agree that if the proper ingredients are incorporated into the recipe, artificial flavoring would not be necessary.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Celebrating International Dog Biscuit DayMy Profile

  6. Knowledge is power!!
    Julie recently posted…Snow DayMy Profile

  7. THANK YOU for your comment on Natural Flavor. It drives me nuts, because it’s it truly natural flavoring from the ingredients (e.g. protein) then why does it need to be identified. I have not found a brand who will explain exactly what natural flavor is.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…5 Reasons I Stock Up on PetKind Canned Green TripeMy Profile

  8. Great point on highlighting “Natural Flavor”. I think this is something that is misleading in our human food too. There are a lot of things that are natural that you would never consider to be healthy for us or our dogs.
    Elaine recently posted…Why Do Female Dogs Mark Their Territory?My Profile

  9. For any dog lovers who are interested in making their own food for their dog. Please check out my blog for tips and tricks for your fury friend!

  10. Oh. My. Dog. For the past year or so I have refused to purchase a certain big-name brand of dog food because one of the first – if not the first – listed ingredient is “animal digest”. Now you’re telling me that the so-called “natural flavor” may be made from the same thing? Excuse me while I go hug the commode. Sometimes ignorance IS bliss.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…A Tired Dog Is A Good DogMy Profile

  11. I’m glad you pointed out the info about grain free. I just shake my head at people when they talk about grain free foods and how great they are for the pets and it cured all their allergy problems, right!
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Rally Obedience With JoseyMy Profile

  12. As consumers and caretakers of our fur-iends, we need to be less influenced by Madison Ave. and educate ourselves better about ingredients and nutrients. Thank you for passing along this info. 🙂

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