Dog Food Scams
There are two concerns when we talk about dog food scams.
1. The Source of Meat - If your dog is primarily eating kibble, make sure you buy a decent brand of dog food. It's no secret that many supermarket pet foods now contain some very dubious sources of meat in their dry kibble food. As sickening as it may sound, these sources include euthanized pets and road kill. They also use any kind of slaughterhouse by-product, including animals treated with hormones and other drugs which are not destroyed by the cooking process. This could be harmful to your dog.
2. The Meat vs Grain Ratio - The other issue with kibble is the amount of meat compared to grain. For the last decade, a lot of pet food manufacturers have turned to cheap grain ingredients to bulk up their product. In turn, the meat and protein content is reduced. This is very bad for your dog, who, in the wild, evolved to eat mostly raw meat and bones, with a little vegetation found in the belly of their prey. In domesticated dogs, we should try to replicate this diet where at all possible. A mostly grain diet is woefully inadequate.
Read The Label: The Baddies
When browsing the dry dog food brands, don't make your choice based on price alone. Here's a list of ingredients to avoid like the plague:
Ingredients to Avoid in Dog FoodWhat's really in supermarket dog food?
Meat and bone meal - If you see the term "meat and bone meal" - stay away. You're looking at dog food which legally includes animals euthanized at the vet's office as well as road kill. If they were wearing chemical flea collars or had been treated with antibiotics or steroids before they died, those get ground up and added too. So does the plastic bag around the carcass. (Note: the exact wording is important: if you see "beef meal, lamb meal or poultry meal" this is GOOD. It simply means the meat has been ground up. When listed early on in the ingredients, it's usually a sign of a higher quality pet food.)
Meat by-products - This refers to any part of a slaughterhouse animal not deemed fit for human consumption. "Meat by-products" include intestines, chicken heads, duck bills, fish heads, chicken and turkey feet, hides, feathers and bone. The problem with by-products is they can include diseased and contaminated slaughterhouse meat and even dehydrated garbage. Some vets claim that feeding such slaughterhouse waste to your dog increases the risk of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases. What's more, the harsh cooking process also destroys the natural enzymes and proteins that would otherwise nourish your dog so it is of little benefit anyway.
Poultry by-product meal - This consists of ground and rendered parts of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, mostly exclusive of feathers. "Poultry by-product meal" is not required to include actual meat, and can include diseased and contaminated meat and harmful chemical additives.
Propylene Glycol - This is a synthetic preservative used to keep the kibble moist and has been identified by some vets to cause red blood cell damage in cats. There is little research into its toxicity or safety into the chronic use in pet foods.
Ethoxyquin - This is another chemical additive, listed as a pesticide by the Department of Agriculture. It is banned from human food because it is known to promote cancer of the kidneys, bladder and stomach. Yet shockingly, it is still used in some commercial pet foods.
BHA & BHT - These are additives used by American pet food manufacturers, yet are banned by most countries in Europe. BHA and BHT are known to cause liver and kidney dysfunction, plus bladder and stomach cancers. Disturbingly, manufacturers are only required to list the ingredients they add to the dog food themselves - so any BHA and BHT added earlier in the manufacturing process go unreported.
Mineral oxides or sulfates - Trace minerals in the form of mineral oxides or sulfates can't be digested by animals.