From Nature's Basket: Best Ingredients for Dog Food

From Nature's Basket: Best Ingredients for Dog Food

Just like tasting notes play a big role in the flavor of a good bottle of wine, so do the ingredients that go into dog food. That’s why to keep your pups healthy and happy, knowing what the best ingredients for dog food are is the key to choosing a brand your pooch will love.

In this easy-to-follow guide, we'll share the top ingredients to look for in dog food. We’ll go over things like lean meats, like chicken or turkey, that give dogs the energy they need. Plus, we'll also tell you about things to avoid, like artificial colors and preservatives, that aren't good for them. That way, you’ll know which brands are worth purchasing and which you might want to skip. 

What Are the Best Ingredients to Put in Dog Food?

Just like us, dogs need a balanced diet with different kinds of nutrients. Certain foods and ingredients contain the nutrients they need to stay healthy. A few ingredients that can provide dogs with the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need include: 

  • Real Meat: Meat helps dogs grow strong muscles and stay active. Look for dog food that lists real meats like chicken, beef, fish, or lamb. This means it's made with actual animal protein, not just leftovers.
  • Healthy Carbs: Carbohydrates give your dog energy. Brown rice, barley, and sweet potatoes are great choices because they also have fiber, which helps with digestion (and poop!).
  • Good Fats: Fats keep dogs’ skin and fur healthy and help them absorb vitamins. Look for named fat sources, like chicken fat or flaxseed oil, on the food label. These are much better than just saying "animal fat."
  • Fruits and Veggies: Carrots, peas, apples, and blueberries are often found in good dog food. These provide vitamins and fiber to keep your pup healthy.
  • Probiotics: Some dog foods have probiotics, which are like tiny helpers for their tummies. They can make digestion easier and help keep their immune system strong.

While not all dog foods will contain each and every ingredient on this list, these are a few top items to keep an eye out for. They help ensure well-rounded nutrition.

What is the Composition of Good Dog Food?

Good dog food is made up of a blend of proteins, fats, carbs, and water, as well as a few other key nutrients. 

A good dog food composition is one that balances these nutrients in proportions suitable for your dog's life stage, breed, size, and health condition. Always check the labels, consult with your vet, and monitor your dog’s health, weight, and energy levels to make sure their diet is supporting them to lead a happy, healthy life. 

Let’s take a closer look at what goes into dog food that’s beneficial to your pup’s well-being.

1. Proteins

Leading the pack—and for good reason—are proteins. Think of proteins as the building blocks for your canine companion. They are essential for cell regeneration, maintaining a healthy immune system, and promoting overall growth and repair in dogs. 

A high-quality animal protein source should be the first ingredient listed on your dog food label. For example, if you feed your dog chicken-based food, the first ingredient should be "chicken," not a by-product or a derivative.

2. Fats

Fats tend to get a bad reputation, but don’t be deceived—they are the primary energy source for your furry friend! Quality fat sources to look for include chicken fat, salmon oil, and flaxseed oil.  These not only supply your pooch with energy but also support their brain development, keeping their coats shiny and healthy.

3. Carbohydrates

While not a primary energy source in a dog's diet, carbohydrates help provide a balanced diet. Look for complex carbohydrates found in ingredients like sweet potatoes, legumes, or brown rice. These are better than simple carbohydrates since they provide sustained energy and are packed with dietary fiber for digestive health.

4. Fiber

Often overshadowed but equally important is fiber. It aids in maintaining a healthy GI tract. Fiber sources you’d want to see in your dog's food include beet pulp, chicory root, or pumpkin.

5. Vitamins and Minerals

These are usually incorporated in a balanced dog food to ensure your pup's health is optimally supported. Minerals like calcium and iron, along with vitamins A, D, and B-complex, are all important to your dog's overall health.

6. Water

Last but not least, we have water. Essential to life, it helps your dog maintain his body temperature, digest food, and eliminate waste. While dogs do get some water from wet food, they should always have a fresh water source available.

Are there Any Superfoods for Dogs?

Just like us, dogs have superfoods too! These are special foods packed with extra nutrients that help them feel their best. Adding these to your dog's diet is a great way to give them an extra boost.

Fish oil is a top pick for dogs. It's full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for their heart, skin, and even make their fur super shiny. You can find fish oil in salmon, mackerel, and other fish, or you can add it directly to your dog's food.

Blueberries are another great choice for dogs. They're full of antioxidants and vitamins that are good for their brains and overall health. Mixing blueberries with plain yogurt makes a tasty and healthy treat that your dog will love.

Pumpkin is also a superfood for dogs. It's packed with fiber for good digestion and vitamin A for healthy eyes. You can easily mix some pumpkin into your dog's regular food.

Remember, superfoods are like a bonus for your dog's health. They shouldn't replace their regular, balanced meals. Always talk to your vet before making any big changes to your dog's diet.

Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food 

Part of choosing the best dog food also involves knowing what ingredients are best to avoid. A few that you might want to watch out for include: 

  • Generic Meats and Meals: Dog food labels vaguely mentioning ‘meat,’ 'meat meal,' or 'bone meal' can be concerning. These generic descriptions often indicate poor quality meat or even meat from questionable sources. Always look for clearly specified meats like 'chicken,' 'beef,' or 'turkey.’
  • By-product Meal: By-products are essentially the leftovers once the human-grade parts of the animal have been removed. While not all by-products are harmful, they don't offer much nutritional value. Therefore, it's best to select dog foods where by-products aren't the main protein source. 
  • Corn and Wheat Gluten: Gluten is the protein part of corn and wheat. It’s often used as a cheap way to increase the protein content of dog foods but lacks the complete nutrition of animal proteins. Canines aren't designed to digest large amounts of grains, so high-grain diets can lead to health issues. 
  • Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Preservatives: Just like in human food, artificial additives in dog food can lead to a host of health issues, ranging from allergies and hyperactivity to more serious health concerns. 

The next time you're buying dog food, remember to study its label as closely as you would the description on a bottle of fine wine. After all, serving our pets high-quality food means more cherished years with our furry companions. 

Simple Additions for a Happier, Healthier Pup

Adding extra goodness to your dog's food is a simple way to make mealtime more exciting and boost their overall health. Just like we enjoy adding flavors to our own food, dogs can benefit from a few extra ingredients in their bowl.

Fish oil, full of omega-3 fatty acids, is like a superhero for your dog's skin and coat, making their fur shiny and healthy. Glucosamine, especially helpful for older or larger dogs, can help keep their joints healthy and strong so they can stay active and playful.

Apples and carrots can be a crunchy and healthy treat for your dog. Apples, with their vitamins and fiber, are good for their teeth (just remember to remove the seeds! ), while carrots, packed with vitamin A, help keep their eyes healthy and their vision sharp.

Blueberries and sweet potatoes offer an extra boost of nutrition too. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that help protect your dog's cells, while sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber and vitamins for overall health.

Bone broth, a superfood in itself, is full of nutrients that are good for your dog's joints, bones, and digestion. Plus, it's usually a big hit with dogs!

By adding these simple and healthy ingredients to your dog's food, you're giving them the best chance to live a long, happy, and healthy life. It's a small way to show your furry friend how much you love them.

Creating a Balanced Nutrient Profile for Your Pup

Dogs need a good mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in their food. Think of it like a balanced meal for yourself but with different proportions.

For example, a typical dog meal might have about 30% protein from sources like chicken or beef, 10-20% healthy fats like flaxseed oil, and 30-40% carbohydrates from things like quinoa or sweet potatoes. This balance gives them the energy they need to play and helps them stay healthy. 

However, just like you wouldn't want to eat the same thing every day, dogs also enjoy variety in their meals. Try different meats, vegetables, and grains to keep things interesting and ensure your dog gets a wide range of nutrients.

Still, remember that every dog is different, and different pooches will need different nutrition profiles. Puppies, older dogs, or dogs with special needs might have unique dietary requirements, for instance. As such, it's always a good idea to talk to your vet about the best ingredients in dog food for your furry friend. They can help you create a meal plan that keeps your dog happy, healthy, and wagging their tail!

Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy With the Best Dog Food

Navigating dog nutrition can be a complex path, like appreciating the subtleties of a complex wine. By choosing high-quality ingredients, adding healthy enrichments, and paying attention to your dog's individual needs, you're giving them the best chance to thrive. It's a small way to show your love for your furry companion and ensure they're by your side for many years to come.

We love to support brands that, like us, began as small ventures and have grown over the years. The Farmer’s Dog is one such brand that we truly adore. They've been a part of the Wags & Wine family for over seven years, nourishing three of our pups with their wholesome recipes. If you're curious to try their food, they offer sample packs, allowing your furry friend to taste a variety of flavors without any long-term commitment. There are several other great brands on the market with similar nutritious offerings, but The Farmer’s Dog has a special place in our hearts (this is not a paid shoutout and Wags & Wine has no affiliation with The Farmer’s Dog).

And speaking of showing love to your furry friend (and yourself!), you can get hold of that tasty bottle of wine and treat your dog to nutritious meals by subscribing to Wags & Wine today! We’ll send you a curated box of top-notch treats for your furry friend and hand-picked wines each month. Cheers to spending moments munching on treats and sipping on wine with your furry best friend!