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Choosing a poor-quality, bad dog food for your pet can have disastrous effects on his health, both in the short term and the long term. For this reason, it is just as important to know what are the bad dog foods and what to avoid as it is to know what to look for in your dog’s food.

The pet food industry is rich in money and scam; it’s full of controversial things which forces pet owners to be vigilant when picking the best dog food for their pets.

So, how are we supposed to know which dog foods are healthy and which are bad dog food products that we should avoid?

It’s time consuming, but doing your research to find accurate information based on facts as well as advice written by experts is the first step we should all take. This article will save you some time in research, but you should not stop here.

Familiarize yourself with your dog’s specific nutritional needs

The best place for you to begin is by finding out everything nutrition related that applies to your individual dog. There’s a lot of evidence-based resources out there written by experts that will help you learn how to spot good quality healthy dog food and how to research the best types of food for your dog’s specific needs.

For example, athletic and working dogs have different nutritional needs that your average couch potato pet. There’s a science-based guide on how to feed canine athletes which explains all the differences. Similarly, if you have a puppy with food allergies, research dog food that will meet his nutritional needs without causing his allergies to flare up.

Once you have a few good ideas, it’s time to consult the experts and find the evidence to chose claims. Your veterinarian or a trained canine nutritionist will be able to help you select the right food for you pet. No matter what type of food you choose (canned, kibble, raw), you can always use expert’s input on what are bad dog foods and what’s good.

There are many variables that can help determine which food a dog should eat and which ones are the worst dog food brands. These variables include your dog’s:

  • breed
  • weight
  • activity level
  • age
  • health condition

Your vet will be able to help you choose a food that will give your dog the proper nutrition that he requires, while keeping him at an ideal weight. They’ll also be able to give you advice on a food choice that will help with any health conditions your dog may suffer from. Diet can have a positive effect on skin condition, dental health, cardiovascular health, digestive health, and virtually any other health condition that your dog may have.

RELATED: What Dog Food Is Good for Dogs and Why?

15 Things You Should Know to Avoid Choosing Bad Dog Food

Things You Should Know to Avoid Choosing Bad Dog Food

1. Look out for words like “platter”, “dinner” or “entrée”

In order for a food to be labeled as a “platter”, “dinner” or “entrée” it must contain at least 25% of the ingredient named in the title. For example, “Turkey Dinner Dog Food” must have at least 25% turkey.

This does not mean that other proteins are not present in the food. Pay particular attention to dog foods with “platter”, “dinner” or “entrée” in the title when looking for a quality dog food or single protein source food.

2. Organic doesn’t mean organic

When human food is labeled as organic, it must meet certain specifications as laid out by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Unfortunately, the National Organic Program has not yet found a way to include pet foods in the current guidelines for organic foods. This is because pet food manufacturers cannot feasibly produce organic foods.

As it currently stands, the AAFCO says that pet foods may not state that they were produced under organic standards or exhibit a USDA organic seal on the packaging under N.O.P rules. Alternately, the N.O.P says that stating that pet food is 100% organic, made with organic ingredients, or is just organic, is not necessarily a lie.

These labels do not claim organic certification or production.

It’s all very confusing, but what does it really mean? It means that no one is really too sure whether pet foods labeled as organic are actually organic by traditional standards. Don’t rely on the wording of a product – for example, “Organic” – to sell you on a bad dog food.

RELATED: How To Read Dog Food Labels Accurately

3. Prescription dog food isn’t always better

Prescription foods are frequently recommended by veterinarians for specific ailments. These foods have specific nutritional limitations, but it does not mean that they contain higher quality ingredients.

In fact, often veterinarians are paid to promote specific prescription foods which is why they do so. Instead of blindly accepting a prescription food, look at the ingredients and find a healthier alternative if the ingredients are not quality.

READ MORE HERE: 16 Things You Didn’t Know About Prescription Dog Food

4. Single ingredient doesn’t necessarily mean one ingredient

A pet food company can claim a food to be a “single ingredient” food so long as 95% of the food (not including water) is comprised of that single ingredient. This means that technically a food advertised as “Soley Beef Dog Food”, can include 95% beef and 5% “other” ingredients. If you are truly seeking a single ingredient food, it’s best to consider home cooking or raw feeding.

5. What it means for a food to be made with an ingredient

A pet food company can claim a dog food is made “with” an ingredient so long as just 3% of the food is made of that ingredient. For example, “Beef with Tripe” dog food, need only contain 3% tripe.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something that should push you to pay more attention to the ingredient label of your dog food. It is best to choose a dog food with a single high-quality protein source rather than a food “with” an ingredient.

6. Celebrity endorsements don’t mean quality products

Celebrities are endorsing big brand pet foods left and right, but these endorsements do not translate to quality. Keep in mind that celebrities are paid to endorse products and very few have any training in veterinary medicine or nutrition.

Look for nutrition and ingredient quality rather than celebrity faces. Don’t purchase a pet food simply because it features a celebrity’s face.

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Things You Should Know to Avoid Choosing Bad Dog Food

7. Random quality testing isn’t ideal

These days, most companies perform quality testing on their pet foods, however, these testing processes differ based on each manufacturer. Pet food manufacturers who perform random testing are less than ideal because they do not test every batch of food they produce before shipping.

Choose a pet food manufacturer who tests every batch of their food before shipping to avoid a higher likelihood of tainted food consumption. In light of the countless recent recalls on bad dog food, you can never be too careful!

8. Avoid manufacturers who use questionable meat products

Very few pet food companies use USDA approved meats. It is not necessary to seek these manufacturers out, but make sure to avoid manufacturers who use “4-D” meats. 4-D meats are meat from dying, dead, disabled or diseased animals.

Legally, any pet food manufacturer can incorporate this type of meat in their products UNLESS they export their products to Europe.

Avoid purchasing from manufacturers who are not APHIS EU certified. These foods have not been approved for European export and may possibly contain unhealthy meat products.

9. Natural isn’t what you think

“Natural” pet food sounds quite desirable, but it can actually be quite deceiving. Natural ingredients are anything that is sourced from an animal or plant or that has been mined. That is to say, natural ingredients are not necessarily healthy ingredients. Understanding things like these claims and what every marketing gimmick means is important.

For example, diseased meat products are natural, but certainly not healthy. Instead of looking for “natural” dog food, concentrate on looking for foods with high quality and healthy ingredients.

10. The secret behind premium pet foods

There are no regulations that must be met in order for a company to claim a food as “premium”. Dog foods that are labeled as “premium” or any variation of “premium” are not necessarily better than any other food out there.

In fact, in most instances, the term is simply used as a selling point to dupe consumers. Instead of looking for pet foods labeled as “premium”, look at the ingredients in the food and whether it is nutritionally balanced.

RELATED: Expensive Dog Food Brands – Are They Worth the High Cost?

Things You Should Know to Avoid Choosing Bad Dog Food

11. Regular recalls should be heeded

A number of pet food manufacturers have been guilty of issuing recalls on their foods due to contamination. Pay particular attention to a pet food company that has issued multiple or regular recalls.

This pattern shows lax quality control and a failure to learn from prior recalls. Avoid purchasing bad dog food from pet food companies with multiple recalls in their history.

12. Avoid dog food brands with limited information availability

Dog food companies that are secretive about what is contained in their foods or who use evasive language like “meat meal” should be avoided. When companies hide or refuse information, they are not looking out for the good of the consumer or the health of your dog.

A good dog food company will be happy to provide full disclosure of what is in their food. Research ingredient labels thoroughly. Know exactly what is in your dog food and if you cannot obtain that information, find another brand of dog food!

13. Skip dog foods sourcing ingredients from poor quality controlled countries

Skip dog foods sourcing ingredients from poor quality controlled countriesDog food companies that source their ingredients from countries with lax regulations on quality control, should be avoided. Lax quality control can often result in tainted ingredients being incorporated into final food products.

Even if tainted foods aren’t used, subpar ingredients almost always are. Avoid purchasing bad dog food that sources ingredients from countries with poor quality control, like China. Instead, stick with dog food brands who source from the U.S., Canada and New Zealand.

READ MORE: How to Read Online Dog Food Reviews to Pick the Best Dog Foods

14. Steer clear of companies that incorporate concerning ingredients

Certain ingredients such as BHA, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, dyes, and artificial preservatives should be avoided. Certain types of artificial dyes have been linked to cancer and have no purpose for your dog’s nutrition. Additionally, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (synthetic vitamin K) has been linked to various illnesses including vitamin K toxicity, weak immune systems, allergies, and hemolytic anemia.

Quality dog food brands will not include harmful and toxic substances like these as they have safe alternatives or no purpose at all in a dog’s diet. Avoid feeding your dog harmful substances in bad dog food by making sure that you recognize every ingredient on the ingredient list of his food.

15. Expensive doesn’t mean good quality

Many pet parents believe that just because a dog food is expensive, it has to be a good quality food. This is simply untrue. Unfortunately, many companies take advantage of this myth and overprice bad dog food to make more profit from buyers.

Often, this approach is paired with a deceptive name like “premium dog food”. Expensive dog food can sometimes mean quality, but that isn’t always the case.

How do you know if an expensive dog food is also a quality dog food?

Take a look at the ingredients as well as other claims being made on the bag. Look for quality ingredients and pet food bags that avoid deceptive terms in advertising like “completely organic”, “premium food” or “all natural”.

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