How can I tell if my dog food concentrate is of good quality? The labels are confusing.
High-quality dry foods should have a whole-meat source as one of the first two ingredients (for example, chicken or chicken meal). If a list of ingredients begins with whole chicken, followed by three or more grains and no other meat proteins, it’s likely that the food contains way more grain than meat. There is no way to know for sure, however, since the makers are not required to specify the amounts or percentages of each ingredient. Ideally, whole, unprocessed grains and vegetables will be used since their nutrients have a better chance of surviving the food-making process.
High-quality food should have the minimum of food fragments. Fragments are lower-cost byproducts of another food manufacturing process, such as Brewer’s rice, which is a waste product of the alcohol industry. If the list of ingredients begins with lamb, rice flour, rice bran, Brewer’s rice, the product is mostly rice even though lamb heads the list (whole meat has water weight and the ingredients must by law be listed by weight).
High-quality foods should not contain generic fats or proteins. “Animal fat,” for example, can be just about anything, including recycled grease from restaurants. It would be preferable to see “beef fat” or “chicken fat.”
The food should not contain artificial preservatives, such as BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin, nor artificial colors.
Your pet really doesn’t care what color his food is, and a lifetime of exposure to chemical dyes is not necessary. Sweeteners are not necessary (but dogs do like them). They are usually used to enhance the taste of low-quality food.