Like every pet parent, we want to provide the best of the best pet food there is to our adorable furbabies. From searching for cat or dog food nutrition facts to the best cat or dog food reviews, paying little attention to the most important – the quality of ingredients in pet food. Understanding pet food ingredients and facts can be confusing. What’s okay for humans is not always also good for pets.

In 2007, an international pet food crisis caused kidney failure and death in dogs and cats who had consumed pet food containing melamine contaminated wheat gluten produced in China.

Wheat gluten is a grain by-product which provides a cheaper alternative to muscle meat protein or whole-grain carbohydrates. Melamine is a component of plastic which increases nitrogen content and protein levels when added to wheat gluten. As a result of certain pet food manufacturers’ efforts to create a less expensive product using poorer quality ingredients, our pets suffered life-threatening toxicity. Stories such as this horrify us and push pet parents to learn everything about pet food: the good, the bad and the healthy.

3 Things You Should Know About Pet Food: The Good, The Bad, and The Healthy

Let’s consider why certain pet food may be a good or bad choice for your pet, starting with “the good.”

all natural pet store in the philippines


When feeding most commercial foods, pet owners benefit from the convenience of opening a bag of dry food or a can of wet food, or defrosting and serving frozen pet food. As our society has become more focused on convenience instead of health, processed foods requiring little to no preparation have become popular among pet owners. Just be sure to choose quality pet food!

Nutritionally Complete and Balanced

Commercially available pet food is required to be nutritionally complete and balanced for all life stages, which gives the pet parent a degree of certainty that their pet will consume a combination of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to meet their nutritional needs.

Ingredient Labels and Recommended Feeding Guidelines

Commercial diets and treats are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the product’s label is legally required to include everything about the pet food, a “proper listing of all the ingredients in the product in order from most to least, based on weight” along with Guaranteed Analysis (percentages of crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture). There is also a guideline for the daily quantity of food recommended to be fed based on your furbaby’s body weight.

Everything good about pet food makes pet parenting seem like a breeze. Now let’s move onto “the bad.”


By-Products and Meat Meals

Always check your cat or dog food ingredients before making your purchase. “By-products” are any parts other than meat derived from slaughtered animals. These can include lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, blood, bone, fatty tissues, beaks, feathers, hair, hooves, hides, trimmings, manure, and even floor sweepings.

Meat ‘meals’ such as ‘meat and bone meal’ come from the rendering process and can contain “dead animals from farms, ranches, feedlots, marketing barns, animal shelters, and other facilities; and fats, grease, and other food waste from restaurants and stores” (according to the National Agricultural Law Center). It is referred to as ‘meat’ because no one can pinpoint exactly what is left, whether it is beef, poultry or fish, or maybe even all of the above.

Another contaminant that can come along with these dead animals is pentobarbital, an anesthetic used to euthanize animals (confirmed through FDA testing of pet foods).

Chemicals & Preservatives

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) are chemical preservatives in pet food and treats. Both BHA and BHT are known carcinogens according to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Ethoxyquin is illegal to use in human food in the United States, yet can still legally be added to pet food. Propylene Glycol (PG) is a moistening agent found in some soft pet foods and treats. It is chemically derived from ethylene glycol (EG), also known as antifreeze, which is extremely toxic to animals.

Artificial Colors and Flavors

FD&C, Blue 1 & 2, Red 3 & 40, and Yellow 5 & 6 have been documented to contribute to allergic reactions, behavior problems, and cancer in humans. More recently, caramel color has come under fire as it contains 4-methylimidazole (4-MIE), a known animal carcinogen. Artificial sweeteners or flavorings like beet pulp sugar, corn syrup, and MSG are frequently used to disguise inferior pet food quality.

Rendered Fat

Rendered animal fat is also a result of the rendering process. The rendered animal fat is separated from the meat to be processed differently. The rendered animal fat is used to provide flavor enhancement for kibble and is a source of microorganisms (Salmonella, etc.) and toxins (heavy metals, etc.) If moisture penetrates a dry food bag, then harmful bacteria and mold can flourish.

Bulk Fillers

Unfortunately, many pet food companies use grains such as corn, wheat, and rice as the main ingredients because they are a cheap way to fill up a bag but will little nutritional value. These bulk fillers are often responsible for pet obesity and chronic symptoms of indigestion, such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. When you see pet food labels list grains as its first ingredients, don’t purchase it. Chances are, it has very low nutritional value to your furbaby. Feeding natural food for pets is the way to go.

And finally, let’s talk about the healthy. What is the best pet food? How do you choose the right pet food for your furbaby?


Read Labels

Have you checked the ingredient list on your pet’s food lately? What is the order of the ingredients on the pet food label? If it’s something you don’t understand or can’t pronounce, why feed it to your furbaby? It pays off to know what you’re feeding your furbaby.

Choose the best protein sources

The first ingredients listed should be a form of high-quality protein such as chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, or venison. Pets need to convert good quality protein into energy for their health and survival. Pets benefit more from animal based protein rather than plant based because they lack enzymes to metabolize protein from a plant source. Quality pet food will list the specific protein source on the ingredients panel (e.g. Chicken (20%)).

Go Organic

An increase in awareness of the dangers of commercial pet food has led to the development of organic pet food. Organic means no conventional pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics, and synthetic fertilizers were used to grow the ingredients in the pet food. It is also processed without ionizing radiation or food additives. Pet foods can be labeled as:” 100% organic” (only organic ingredients), “Organic” (at least 95% organic ingredients) and “made with organic in ingredients (at least 70% organic ingredients).

Know the Source

All-natural pet food brands made in the USA guarantee the best quality, safety, and nutrition standards. Most commercial dog and cat food is made with lower-quality ingredients considered to be feed-grade instead of human-grade.

giving treats for big dogsSource: @crescentsiberian

Meeting our pets’ nutritional requirements, but doing so with substandard quality and potentially toxic ingredients, can cause both short and long-term health consequences. It’s not so much asking yourself “What is the best pet food?”, but instead, look for quality pet food that will give your pets a complete and balanced meal to support his health and day-to-day needs.

Know your furbaby’s nutritional needs and what to look for in every pet food label. With so many options available in the market, decoding pet food labels, pet food ingredients and facts, and soliciting for the pet diet and nutrition tips can take some time but it will be all worth it. For your pet’s sake, offer a diet of human-grade, whole-food-based, and all-natural ingredients early in life.