Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Foods

Dogs aren't just mere pets in anyone's home, they are also part of the family. That is why pet owners should give the best for their dogs including the best dog foods for their diets. And we also cover what ingredients should not be in dog food.

While a lot of dog foods are available in the market, there are also harmful dog food ingredients that appear to be better than it actually is. Take note, you cannot just easily trust any brands.

The good news is you can actually cut all those brandings and false marketing stuff and get straight to the ideal and healthy food for your dogs that won't compromise the health.

What are the bad ingredients in dog food?

Here is the most common pet food ingredient list that humans should avoid in feeding their dogs:

1. Raw eggs

You might think that a raw diet is safe since it is commonly practiced by several pet owners. But most veterinarians don't agree with this practice because raw foods, including meat and fish, can have a higher chance of containing bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, which are the common reason for food poisoning. 

2.Corn or Corn syrup

Digestive sensitivity is one of the common problems of dogs. That is why corn should be avoided as much s possible since it is notoriously hard to digest. Also, corn syrup is another sweetener that gives a higher chance of obesity, diabetes, or weight gain. Just like with humans, too much sugary food intake is never good for our health. 

Take a look further below from this article why sweeteners are bad for your dogs.

3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

This is the most common food flavoring in every food yet it is considered to be very harmful to dogs. It is usually used to enhance flavoring in low-quality ingredients, as well as being the top of the list of the most common allergens both in humans and pets. 

Most brands add a label to MSG in different names like protein isolate, texturized protein, natural flavors (like the chicken flavor), hydrolyzed protein, soy extracts or concentrate, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, disodium inosinate, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, or yeast extracts.

4. Vegetable oil

Vegetable oil is primarily made from soybean oils and corn that contains excessive fat that can lead to arthritis, joints, hip problems, pancreatitis, and obesity. Vegetable oil along with butter, bacon fat, and grease can do more damage to your dog, especially on the skin and coat health.

To get the best source of fat for your dogs, stick to Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids taken on a very specific amount recommended by your veterinarian. These healthy fats can be taken from olive oil, salmon, flaxseed, and chicken fat. Low-grade, processed oils can be damaging and has low nutrition. 

5. Fillers

Filler ingredients are the additives that usually causes bulk in pet foods. These fillers contain no nutritional value, hard to digest, and can cause digestive issues, hence unnecessary for your dog's diet. These are the common filler ingredients found in dog foods:

  • Soybean meal

The American Kennel Club suggests that soybean meal should not be part of any dog food because it has four times the risk of experiencing bloat. Aside from that, soybean along with oils or fats could lead to allergic reactions. 

  • Cereal by-products

Hair loss, itching, and other symptoms affecting the fur and coat are the few signs of the dogs' allergic reactions and food intolerance to cereals. It can lead to long-term, serious consequences. Cereals include wheat, oats, rye, barley, maize, rice, etc.

  • Citrus pulp

The citrus pulp is the fleshy part of citrus fruits like lemons, lime, and grapefruits. They are very edible to dogs however, most dogs do not prefer eating them because of their flavor - acidic and tart. The psoralen compounds, aromatic oils, and the citric acid content of these fruits can be toxic to dogs and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light if consumed in excessive amounts. 

6. Unnecessary additives

Just like human food, manufacturers, and food companies also add a huge amount of unnecessary additives to dog foods to enhance the color, taste, and nutritional profile. Unfortunately, these toxic ingredients can also bring damage and allergies to your pets.

  • Salt

If your dog eats too much salt, it is likely to make your dog rather thirsty. Meaning, your dog may stop from time to time at every fire hydrant while walking. Salt is no good for dogs because it can also cause sodium ion poisoning, as well as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. High temperature, vomiting, and diarrhea are some of the few symptoms of consuming too much salt. 

  • Sweeteners

Pet food sweeteners like refined sugar, corn syrup, xylitol, and artificial sweeteners cannot be easily digested. These sweeteners are commonly found in dog treats to make them more appealing in taste and color. These mentioned sweeteners can cause a high risk of obesity for dogs. 

  • Artificial food colorings

The cancer-causing effect is the most common in food colorings. Dogs need not have food coloring on their plate. If you ask about what food color is bad for dogs? It should be the red 20, yellow 5 and 6, and blue 2. All FDA-approved food colors are considered to be safe, however, food allergies due to food color usually happen both in humans and dogs. 

  • Copper sulfate

Dog food must not contain more than 7.3 mg of copper per kilo. The excessive amount taken can accumulate in the liver and can lead to overdose. Most manufacturers use this ingredient to supplement copper's content in pet food that can improve the dogs' brain, kidneys, heart, and bones. 

  • Carrageenan

Inflammation and toxicity are the most common negative effects that dogs can have from Carrageenan. It has been known to irritate digestive systems, especially the intestines. Scientists proved that this ingredient is toxic and highly inflammatory to the system and can be highly effective in causing colitis, colon cancer, IBS, etc.

8. Protein ingredients

The Association of American Feed Control Officials requires a minimum amount of 18% of protein on a dry basis for adult dog food. However, risky sources of protein should not be fed on dogs such as:

  • Animal fat

Animal fat is very low-quality in dog foods. This is usually labeled as "rendered fat". The Food and Drug Administration's regulation for animal fat in pet food allows it to be sourced from dead meat, diseased, non-slaughtered, or euthanized animals, which is a very loosely regulated ingredient.

  • Animal by-products

Animal by-products are sourced from an animal carcass after all the bones and meat are removed. This ingredient can have little to zero nutrition because it is heavily processed. Healthy animal by-products are still good for your dogs but make sure it is properly labeled using the animal parts such as kidney, liver, or heart.

  • Animal digest

This ingredient is sourced from the waste of the animal stomach. It has the same loose regulations from animal fat and can be very poor in quality. This ingredient is usually added as an artificial flavoring but contains little to zero nutritional value to your dogs.

9. Onions and Garlic

Raw, powdered, dried, or cooked onions and garlic are considered to be toxic for dogs. These ingredients can kill their red blood cells and may lead to anemia. Excessive intake of these ingredients can show signs of poisoning such as breathing problems, vomiting, and weakness. 

10. Chocolates

Theobromine content in chocolate can cause toxicity to dogs leading to vomiting and diarrhea. It can also cause tremors, seizures, heart problems, and death. All kinds of chocolates are harmful to the dogs but the most toxic ones are unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolates.

What is the most important ingredient in dog food?

1. Lean meats

Generally, all types of meat protein are good and healthy for dogs. But lean meats with higher nutrients like salmon, kangaroo, and beef are the healthiest food to feed your dog. Organ meat in small portions is also good to add more nutrients to their system. 

2. Electrolytes

Just like humans, electrolytes are essential in the dogs' body to preserve water balance and helps electrical impulses in their muscles and nervous system, as well as balancing blood acidity, and allowing important body process to occur. Older, sick, and weak dogs can benefit from this to replace whatever may be lacking in their nutrients. Electrolyte water can easily be made at home, just mix these:

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tbs honey or agave nectar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut water

3. Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids like Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain your dog's strong immune system and cell growth. Their appearance will show if they lack in these if you see dry, flaky skin and dull coat.

Dogs under 15 lbs should get 1 gel cap every other day; 15 to 30 lbs should get 1 gelcap daily; more than 30 lbs should get 1 gelcap per 30 lbs daily.

4. Healthy fats

Flaxseed oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, fish oil, and olive oil are good sources of healthy fats for your dogs. These are essential in your dog's diet since it can enhance proper cell function and improving your dog's coat and fur. 

5. Vitamins

Vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and choline are essential in boosting your dog's complete and balanced vitamin intake. Aside from getting it from natural sources, you can also add it as a supplement as recommended by your veterinarian. 

What is the best dog food recommended by vets?

1. Instinct Raw Boost Mixers 


Instinct Raw Boost Mixers guarantees pet owners that their product is grain-free, made from real chicken, all-natural, and freeze-dried raw. unlike other processed dog food, this product is only made from a few natural ingredients like Chicken (including Ground Chicken Bone), Chicken Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Chicken Heart, Dried Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Dried Chicory Root, Annatto (color), Apple Cider Vinegar, Mixed Tocopherols (for freshness), Rosemary Extract, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product.

This product has benefits that every dog needs such as better digestion, improves skin and coat, increased energy and vitality, relieves from food sensitivities, improves weight, and suggested for every picky eater. 

Products from Instinct are available in different flavors depending on what your dog needs: Gut Health, Blends, Kibble, Specialty Recipes, Dried Meals, and Original.

2. Taste of the Wild Dog Food


Taste of the Wild's dog food is one of the best selling pet supplies because of its high-quality ingredients. The product's number one ingredient is the high-amount protein, which is perfect for developing lean strong muscles. It also has added vitamins, minerals, fruits, and vegetables to act as superfoods and antioxidants to enhance good skin and coat. 

Ingredients from the Taste of the Wild is sustainable and comes from trusted sources. It is made without grain,  corn, wheat, fillers, and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives added. Optimal levels of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids supports your dog's healthy skin and a shiny coat

3. Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat


Diamond Natural's dog food is formulated to enhance with superfoods and guaranteed probiotics for proper nutrition and a healthy digestive tract. It is also a high-quality protein-made with wild-caught salmon and zero grains, which is designed for all life stages and for dogs who have food-related skin sensitivities. It also has an optimal amino acid profile for lean, strong muscles. 

Diamond Natural has premium ingredients with minerals and vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids for your dog's skin and coat, and other hypoallergenic ingredients. Few of which are Salmon, fish meal, potatoes, lentils, peas, pea flour, fava beans, canola oil, dried yeast, flaxseed, tomato pomace, dried chicory root, kale, chia seed, pumpkin, blueberries, oranges, dried kelp, coconut, spinach, carrots, papaya, and more.

Julia is an animal volunteer and a Vet Tech she helps us with research and product evaluation. She also have worked in technical roles that help her sift through the marketing smoke screen. She is passionate about all animals and often helps out at shelters.