I want to feed my dog the healthiest diet possible. But knowing what is best for Kelly isn’t always easy. I mean, perhaps homemade food, or other options, are healthiest (we’ll explore this in later posts) but is commercial kibble really BAD? And what exactly is in that food?

Most commercial dog foods include a form of animal protein (such as meat or chicken), vegetable protein (such as corn), cereal and grains, and fat. Among the labels I read, I found Chicken, Lamb, Beef, Liver, Potatoes, Carrots, Brown Rice, Dehydrated Eggs, Corn, Corn Syrup, Wheat Flour, Wheat Bran, and Whey. But…there are some other ingredients that don’t sound quite as familiar.

Here, from the (AAFCO) Association of American Feed Control Officials are definitions of some other common dog food ingredients:

* Animal Digest— material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue.

* Chicken Meal –chicken which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.

* Corn Gluten – that part of the commercial shelled corn that remains after the extraction of the larger portion of the starch, gluten, and term by the processes employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup.

* Meat By-Products – the non rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hooves.

* Lamb Bone Meal – (steamed) dried and ground product sterilized by undecomposed bones with steam under pressure. Grease, gelatin and meat fiber may or may not be removed.

* Soybean Hulls– consist primarily of the outer covering of the soybean.

So, what did I learn by investigating dog food labels?

1. To select a higher quality dog food, look for whole chicken or other lean protein source listed first in the ingredients. (The first product is the largest amount.)

2. Choose food that is low in fat.

3. Make sure the food is certified by the AAFCO.

4. Know what your dog is allergic to and read the labels to make sure that product isn’t included.

What about you? Do you feed your dog commercial kibble? Is convenience the main factor in choosing this type of food? Tell us what you think.

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