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