Dos and don’ts of dog food ingredients

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Dog owners have been offered an eight-step guide to the pet food ingredients they should prioritise, as well as those they should avoid.

The team behind raw dog food subscription service Bella & Duke have revealed four harmful ingredients often found in many store-bought, processed dog foods, whilst highlighting four properties owners should look for when choosing pet food.

In order to help their pets live longer and healthier lives, dog owners should avoid grains and starch, instead opting for food containing anti-inflammatory omega 3 rich fats and high grade quality meat.

Bella & Duke ’s in-house nutritionist Rowan Sanderson commented: “Whilst dogs will eat pretty much everything, not everything is actually suitable for a dog’s digestive system.

“Just like with humans, the wrong diet can affect your dog’s blood sugar, create inflammation, and lead to serious health issues – so it’s your responsibility to make sure you know exactly what your pets are consuming and how it could affect them long term.

“We’ve summarised four of the most common ingredients that either serve little-to-no purpose when it comes to your dog’s health, or are actually quite harmful, whilst highlighting four properties owners should try to look for when choosing pet food.”

Four properties and ingredients to look for:

1. Anti-inflammatory Omega 3 rich fats

Many plant-based fats touted as Omega 3 or health success stories are very misleading. Sunflower, canola and vegetable oils have leaked into the pet food supply chain, but dogs struggle to make omega 3 fats from plant sources. Instead, look for foods that include quality animal sources of omega 3 fats which a dog can actually use.

2. Minimal processing and quality testing

You should opt for a pet a food that’s undergone minimal processing and thoroughly tested for bacteria, so you can rest assured knowing that the food your dog is eating is healthy and whole. Choose food that’s processed quickly, to ensure it retains the maximum number of nutrients.

3. Human grade quality meat

As the old saying goes, you are what you eat – and this applies to your four-legged friends too. Human grade meat in dog food will be loaded with the quality protein for building your dog’s new cells, along with vitamins, minerals and a host of other health benefits.

4. Antioxidant rich berries, vegetables and other super foods

Whilst dogs may not have evolved eating berries or other super foods, studies are showing a decrease in cancer rates amongst dogs that eat these regularly. They also contribute to building a better microbiome in your dog, the healthy bacteria that protects it form illness.

Four properties and ingredients to avoid:

1. Grains

Grains are simply not meant to be consumed by our pets – be it cats or dogs. Grains create inflammation and leaky gut, which can lead to a host of other symptoms including itchy skin, arthritis and are even linked to epilepsy.

2. Starch

Dogs are carnivores, which means they thrive on a meat-based diet. Yes, they have evolved from wolves and may now look like distant relatives, but their digestive system is largely the same. Contrary to some opinions they can digest some vegetables and benefit from this, excess sugar or starch (which breaks down into sugars) is linked with pancreatitis – an epidemic in the modern dog world. The UK alone has seen levels rise by over 900% in the last five years.

3. Artificial colours

Artificial colours make things look more visually appealing but serve absolutely no nutritional purpose. They’re also been linked to hyperactivity as well as several damaging biochemical processes within the body. Artificial colours can be in anything but are particularly present in processed food, such as pet food.

4. Vegetable oil

Vegetable oil often contains high levels of rancid omega 6 fatty acids. While these fatty acids are essential in balance with omega 3’s, pets eating a processed commercial diet often have way more of these essential fatty acids than is healthy. Since omega 6 EFAs are responsible for inflammation, these excess fats can exacerbate arthritis, hip and joint problems, and many other medical conditions.

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