Every time I hit the bottom of the dog food bag I head to Petsmart or Costco, and start reading through the labels… I check my phone for recalls, look to see how high corn is listed on the ingredients list and try to figure out how much of the necessary protein and nutrients my pups would be getting from each brand.
Spring Naturals provided these tips for deciphering and demystifying dog food nutrition labels to choose the best food for your dog, and they’re super helpful.
Here’s what they recommend:
1. Determining what YOUR dog needs
Just like people, pets’ nutritional needs aren’t always the same. Monitor your dog’s general condition and temperament and take note of any variations in her daily routine. Is your dog sick, stressed, or prone to digestive problems? Be sure to bring these symptoms to your veterinarian’s attention and find out if a change in diet could alleviate them. Then, if you decide to make the switch to a different brand, mix the new food in gradually larger proportions to your dog’s current diet over the first six to seven days.
2. Protein is the priority
Make sure the first ingredient is meat. Red meat, poultry and fish are packed with an abundance of protein which dogs require daily to thrive. When reviewing ingredients, it’s important to know that the way ingredients are listed directly correlates to how much is included in the recipe. So make sure meat and other healthy ingredients are listed at the top.
** And remember, corn, potato, soy, cottonseed hulls, peanut hulls, and grains are all considered inexpensive “fillers.”
3. Doggy allergies
Be wary of certain grains. Does your dog have a dull coat, itchy paws or chronic digestive issues? Some of these problems could be caused by food allergies. Dogs can be sensitive to grains commonly found in pet foods, such as wheat, gluten, corn or soy.
** Spring Naturals offers its recipes in a grain-free variety.
4. Where the…
Know where the product is made and sourced. A product’s country of origin matters, because there are many parts of the world, like China, where food safety and quality control aren’t prioritized as heavily as they are in the US. What to do: scan the label for evidence that the ingredients have been reliably sourced and that the food has been produced in a trustworthy facility.
5. Keep it natural
Review the package for evidence that the product doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. Also look for a clear statement explaining why this product is a sensible choice for your pet. Spring Naturals recipes are based on the company’s “Whole Food Nutrition” philosophy that a balanced blend of real meat, poultry or fish combined with whole vegetables, whole fruits and wholesome grains is a more balanced and better way to nurture your pet.
6. Hold the sugar
Many pet food companies use meat, poultry or fish meals as the primary protein source, so they need to add ingredients to bind the dry kibble together. A few things they use for this are wheat, soy, tapioca, white rice, brown rice or potato starch – products that tend to be high in simple carbs and starches, and in return, have a higher glycemic index (can cause spikes in blood glucose levels). Good substitutes to look for are chickpeas and/or eggs.