1. Meat Byproducts
Avoid any generic ingredient like this. What kind of “meat” did this come from? We don’t know the source.
“Meat byproducts frequently include waste parts as well as rejected meats,” according to Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM.
And Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, says, “There could be something beneficial thrown in, like the heart or gizzard, but because there’s such potential for undesirable pieces and parts in ‘byproducts,’ it’s better to avoid them altogether.”
2. Animal Fat
Next on the list of the worst dog food ingredients is animal fat.
“Again, there’s no animal specified, so it’s anyone’s guess where the fat came from,” says Dr. Becker.
Not to mention, the chemical additives and preservatives used to process animal fats may cause chronic allergies and skin problems. With a premium dog food, you’ll get higher-quality fats.
3. Animal Digest
This is a common ingredient in the big-brand dog foods, and Purina calls it a “high-quality” ingredient. No, really — they actually say that. Which leaves me baffled, because animal digest is something I’d never want to see in my pet’s food.
“Animal digest is a boiled concoction made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals,” says dog nutrition expert Tracie Hotchner, author of The Dog Bible.
“The animals used for this broth can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination,” she adds. “Ingredients can come from restaurant and supermarket refuse, the dead, diseased, disabled or dying (‘4D’) animals raised for human food, other farm animals, rodents, pets euthanized at shelters and so on.”
But ethoxyquin “should never be fed to any pet,” according to Dr. Becker.
Iams responds that “all studies conducted to date prove that ethoxyquin is safe for use in all animal foods when used at approved levels,” but I have to ask the obvious question: What happens when our dogs eat it every single day, meal after meal?
5–6. BHA and BHT
Last on the list of the worst dog food ingredients are BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), which have been linked to cancer.
“You should look for natural preservatives, such as the herb rosemary or vitamins E or C, instead of chemical additives like these,” says Dr. Selmer.
Even though there is more and more evidence now that these chemical-based preservatives may harm your pet’s health, it is still normal within the industry to slip them into various dog foods. “These chemical additives and preservatives may lead to aggressiveness, mood swings, hyperactivity, and regurgitation after meals or skin allergies,” says Dr. Selmer.
My opinion? There are so many dog foods out there that have better quality ingredients, so don’t even bother with products that have any of those 6 ingredients listed above.