Dog Food Ingredients to Avoid

Reading a dog food label can be very confusing when it comes to figuring out what ingredients are safe or natural and which are hazardous to your dog's health. With pet food recalls happening on a consistent basis and smaller premium brands getting bought out by commercial companies, it is important now more than ever to understand what you are feeding your furry companions. I have compiled a list of common dog food ingredients that are non-human grade, poor quality, unnatural, and possibly dangerous.

Keeping these ingredients out of your dog’s diet can make the difference in your dog’s health.

Dog Ingredients to AvoidProtein Sources

Bone Meal: Protein sourced from rendered bones. A byproduct made from beef parts which are not suitable for human consumption.

Blood Meal: You have no way of knowing what type of animal the blood came from or what residues of hormones, medications or other substances are in this product. It has a better use as fertilizer than as a dog food ingredient.

Soybean Meal: Not only do soybean cause allergies for dogs, but contains little protein and overall a very poor quality ingredient.

Corn Gluten Meal: Some pet foods will have this type of protein as the main source replacing beneficial animal protein.

Chicken Byproduct: This ingredient gets its protein form chicken feet, beaks, and feathers.

Carbohydrate Sources

Brewers Rice: A processed rice product that is missing many of the nutrients contained in whole ground rice and brown rice.

Oat Meal: A food-grade fractionated grain, byproduct from human food processing, that is not as nutritionally valuable as the product obtained from whole oats.

Soy Flour: Much of the nutritional value is lost already during processing of the grain to flour. May contain particles of hull, germ, and the offal from the tail of the mill.

Potato Product: A cheap byproduct of human food processing that has been stripped of much of the nutritional benefits that whole, fresh potatoes offer.

Fat Sources

Animal Fat: The rendered animals can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination.

Lard: Very low in linoleic acid but very attractive to pets because it adds flavor. Used to make poor quality food more appealing and has very few nutritional benefits.

Poultry Fat: Rendered from poultry but there is no control over the quality or contamination.

Beef Tallow: Very low in linoleic acid and much cheaper for the pet food industry to use than a good quality vegetable oil or nutritionally rich chicken fat.


BHA: Banned from human use in many countries but still permitted in the US and can be toxic to healthy cells.

Ethoxyquin: Originally developed for a stabilizer for rubber.

Propyl Gallate: Used as an antioxidant to stabilize cosmetics.

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