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“What are we really feeding our dogs?”

A Word about Nutrition

By:  Mary Ann Robertson, CPDT-KA


            I will start this article with a disclaimer stating that I am not a nutritionist or expert in the field.  I have however always been interested in nutrition.  I even considered getting a Masters in the nutrition field, but then decided that I was ready to get out of school!

            How many of you read the labels of the food you eat?  Do you read the labels of your pet’s food?  There is a large spectrum of dog and cat food.  The terms can be confusing.  You probably know that sugar is not good for us or our pets, but did you know that beet pulp is a common ingredient in dog food and a source of sugar. Did you know that sugar makes dogs hyper just like kids?

The Whole Dog Journal has a great article in the February issue which reviews a lot of different foods.  They look at where it is manufactured and where they get their ingredients, types of protein, fats, grains and vegetables.  The food was eliminated for meat by-products, artificial ingredients and sweeteners.  They do not rank the food because different dogs have different needs but the list gives us a good starting place.

 Some of the things that you want to find on the label are good sources of protein such as whole or fresh meats or a single source meal (chicken meal rather than poultry meal).  These should be in the first ingredients listed.  Whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables and other foods will be another thing to look for because they have a better chance of surviving the food-making process with some of the nutrients intact.

Ingredients that should be low on the content list, or not there at all, include food fragments or by-products; such as brewer’s rice or wheat bran.  Most foods have these but you don’t want them at the top, as they are basically fillers.  Beware of meat by-products.  They could be highly nutritious, but most are not handled correctly and so the quality is usually lower.

If the food has generic fats or proteins (Animal fat), artificial preservatives or colors, propylene glycol, or sweeteners it is probably a low quality dry food.  Some foods that made the “Not Recommended” list in The Whole Dog Journal are Beneful, Gravy Train, Kibbles and Bits, Iams Lamb Meal and Rice Formula, Nutra Nuggets Adult Maintenance and Purina Dog Chow.  To see the complete list, visit their website at to subscribe for your copy.

Some foods that are approved by The Whole Dog Journal are California Natural, Canidae, Eagle Pack Holistic Select, Hund-N-Flocken (by Solid Gold), Innova, Merrick, Wellness, and many more.  For the complete list, feel free to stop by and take a look at my copy as well.

I have  some samples of a few premium dog foods that were recommended and you are welcome to come by and pick some up.  I also stock a small supply of dog food and more will be available by special order.  We have cat food also. 

I am including a link to some online articles if you would like some more information.  Many books are written on this subject and we don’t have the time or space to go too deeply into this fascinating subject, but I hope that I have peaked your interest to look further into the subject of what you are really feeding your dog.

There is also a grading system that you can use to check the food you are currently feeding. .

Liberty Hill Pet Resort

10401 Green Rd

Bealeton, VA  22712

540-439-PAWS (7297)