For several weeks now the news has come alive with stories of lawsuits claiming that pets are getting sick and even dying from eating Purina’s Beneful dog food. While the court has yet to decide if Purina is guilty in this case, savvy dog owners have known for a long time that some dog foods are better than others.

The dog food industry is largely unregulated, and the quality of your pet’s food can range from, cancer-in-a-bag to food, to those that are of a higher quality than what we owner’s eat for dinner. Beneful is rated by independent dog food reviewer, Dog Food Advisor, as just 1 out of 5 stars, the lowest possible rating. Dog Food Analysis, another independent reviewer, also rates it the lowest possible 1 out of 6 stars.

The reason for this is pretty simple: It’s made out of garbage.  In fact, letting your dog eat out of your personal garbage can would probably be a lot healthier and less risky than feeding the bottom of the barrel foods, like Beneful.

A good dog food uses ingredients that are high quality, simple, and appropriate for a meat loving predator like the dog. You can check the quality of your dog’s food at http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/ .  Or just look for the following two ingredients on your dog food bag.  If either of these are listed, you need to change foods.

1. ‘Meat’ or ‘Animal’ anything. For example: Meat Meal or Animal Fat

If your dog food has an ingredient that labels their protein as ‘meat’ or ‘animal’ anything, run away screaming. If your food doesn’t specify what specific animal it came from (chicken, pork, lamb etc.) then it could be from anything.  By anything, we are talking about, Euthanized cats and dogs (warning, seriously gross picture in the link.), roadkill, partially decomposed carcasses or anything that was once upon a time living. Feeding your dog decomposed/diseased/euthanized animals could result in serious health complications or even death. Ann Martin wrote a book called Food Pets Die For  back in 2008, so this is obviously not new information.

2. Grains of any kind.

Dogs do have the ability to break down starch with varying degrees of success, but the grade of grain commonly used in dog food is not the kind you want going into your dog’s stomach. Animal grade grains may contain aflatoxins, toxic insects, and other contaminants. Often the grains used in dog food aren’t even whole grains, but are the leftover remnants after all the nutrition has been sucked out of them for the human food products. While there are some dog foods out there that contain human grade grains, you’ll need to do some homework too figure out which ones commit to this type of quality.

There are hundreds of other ingredients that are not great for your dog, but typically when the two ingredients listed above are not included in your dog’s food the other ingredients follow suit. A manufacturer that is willing to put money into a grain free recipe with good quality meat in it is unlikely to spoil their efforts with BHA, a preservative thought to cause cancer, or propylene glycol, a cousin to ethylene glycol (antifreeze).

We are actually very happy that the lawsuit against Purina’s Beneful has made so many people aware of it’s extremely poor quality. Cute TV commercials and colorful pictures of meat & vegetables on the front of the bag can be very deceiving. We understand that not everyone sits around reading dog food labels and searching the internet for canine nutrition information like we do. Please feel free to tap into our knowledge and love for canine nutrition. We are more than happy to help you find a new food for your dog. Better nutrition means better health and hopefully a longer life.