First of all you should simply read the label thoroughly, making sure to read every item on it rather than just giving it a quick scan. The ingredients are listed according to weight, from the biggest weight to the smallest. It is important that you are aware not only what the ingredients are, but in what quantity they are present. Here are some points to note:-
If meat is listed as the first ingredient, you cannot assume that the quantity of it was measured before the meat was rendered.
Animal by-products are added as a cheap (and low quality) alternative to whole meat.
The best quality dog foods contain no animal by-products.
If the moisture level is more than 11%, then the dry matter food base is of poor quality.
The best quality dog foods have a moisture content of 10% or less, which is the ideal proportion.
If the first ingredient is beef or chicken meal, this is a good sign, because these have a higher protein content than whole meat.
Meal means that the meat has been baked before use, which removes the bacteria and any toxins present.
Chicken meat has a high water content. Consequently the proportion of chicken in dog food can be misleading, because you don’t know how much of that stated chicken content was after baking, which as well as removing unwanted substances also drives off water.
If the label gives a proportion of chicken meal rather than ‘chicken’, then you are actually getting more chicken because of the unwanted matter which has been driven off in the baking process.
Being aware of the ingredients in your dog’s food is the only way to really know what he is getting, especially given the many different forms in which these foods are sold today.
Always remember that your dog will not remain healthy, and in fact can even become ill, if you do not feed him a healthy diet, or if your chosen foods do not contain the ingredients he needs.
If your dog starts lacking energy and losing playfulness, or his behavior becomes poor, then he could in fact be unwell. Another sign of good health and proper nutrition is the coat, which in a healthy dog should be thick and shiny.
Do not be fooled into thinking that you are doing well by spending less on your dog. This is only the case if you are also sure that you are giving him a proper nutritional diet, which is essential for good health. If you do not choose wisely, then you and your pet will suffer for it. If you do select well, however, then he should be both healthy and happy.