Optimizing Your Dog’s Health with Quality Dog Food

Written by
Emma Garcia
Published on
July 10, 2015
Updated on
February 26, 2024

As direct descendents of wolves, dogs are classified under the order Carnivora, or mammals that eat a meat-based diet. Animals like dogs (and cats) that need to consume meat-specific proteins to remain healthy have shorter small intestines than omnivores or herbivores. In fact, all carnivores possess a digestive system that evolved to digest and extract essential nutrients from meat. As a result, feeding them diets high in grains like corn and wheat can lead to malnutrition, immune system disorders and chronic illnesses.

Dog Digestion 101

Dogs have teeth made for meat-eating. Designed to grip, shred and tear captured prey, a dog’s front and back teeth are jagged and sharp, precisely adapted to accommodate his digestive abilities. Alternately, plant-eating animals have rounded, blunt-edged teeth suited for grinding leaves, stems, seeds and other types of flora. In addition, your dog has hinged jaws and cannot move his jaws sideways like herbivores can. This unique anatomical feature allows dogs to open their mouths widely in order to consume large chunks of meat.

A dog’s stomach is a highly acidic environment where chewed meat is broken down into chyme before entering the intestines. Chyme is a fluid that flows into the small intestines where all nutrients contained in the chyme is absorbed by the dog’s body. All waste products then pass into the large intestine. Electrolytes and water are assimilated here and intestinal bacteria break down undigested fiber that is later excreted by the dog.

Dogs consistently fed fiber, grains and vegetation will naturally suffer digestive problems due to their highly evolved physiology specifically designed to digest protein. With their simple, short digestive tracts, dogs are unable to ferment and absorb high-fiber, high-grain diets. Proteins consumed by carnivores must spend more time in their stomachs getting broke down by acids before moving into their shortened intestines. Omnivores and herbivores, on the other hand, have a lengthy intestinal architecture because plant-based foods spend little time in the stomach and more time in their intestines.

Why Commercial Dog Food Should Never Be Fed to Dogs

Let’s look at a well-known brand of dog food called Beneful to learn why feeding your dog some types of commercial dog food is bad for his health and well-being.

Although Beneful purports to be a “100% complete and balanced” dog food, a closer examination of its ingredients tells a different story:

    • Beneful is mostly grain-based, incorporating chicken by-product meal as the main source of its “protein”.
    • The first five ingredients listed on a bag of Beneful dry dog food are ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, animal fat, chicken by-product meal and whole wheat flour. These ingredients are nothing but “fillers” that make it easier and cheaper for Beneful to produce its dog food.
    • Although corn is an acceptable source of carbohydrates, dog owners do not know if corn grains used to make Beneful are the first-class grade of corn or if livestock feed grade has been used. In addition, many dogs develop an allergy to corn that can cause systemic infections.
    • Corn gluten meal is nothing more than an inferior and inexpensive source of essential amino acids that Beneful makers use to pad the “total protein content” amount to their dog foods.
    • Chicken by-product meal is derived from random chicken parts that has been deemed “unfit for human consumption”. Waste chicken parts used to make this component include chicken feet, beaks, entrails and undeveloped eggs.
    • Sources of animal fat have never been identified by Beneful. Consequently, animal fat included in its pet foods could come from diseased livestock and slaughterhouse waste.
    • Additional controversial ingredients found in Beneful dog food include propylene glycol (a moisturizer), non-chelated minerals and garlic oil, a substance linked to canine Heinz body anemia.

Unbelievably, 75 percent of all well-known dog food sold at supermarkets and department stores contain these ingredients. What’s even worse is that “off-brands” or brands sold for a few dollars less than popular brands are made using ALL filler products and possibly ingredients that are not regulated by the U.S. FDA.

Taste of the Wild

Now for some good news!

There are dog food companies that genuinely understand the importance of providing dogs with the kind of nutritious, protein-rich food their physiology demands. One of them is Taste of the Wild.

When you feed your dog Taste of the Wild, you are providing him with a grain-free food that:

  • Includes highly digestible, energizing carbohydrate components such as peas and sweet potatoes.
  • Contains ocean fish and/or salmon meal rich with adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids necessary for a shiny coat and strong immune system.
  • Offers antioxidant support by mixing raspberries, blueberries and tomatoes with ocean and salmon fish meal.
  • Gives dog owners a choice of dog food formulas that all incorporate lean meat–quail, turkey, venison, duck and lamb. In addition, makers of Taste of the Wild use purified water via reverse osmosis to process their foods.
  • Is preservative and antiobiotic-free.

Probiotics in High-Grade Dog Food

One of the best things about Taste of the Wild is its inclusion of high-quality good bacteria in their recipe. Probiotics are specialized bacteria that help stabilize the canine digestive tract and eliminate “bad” bacteria responsible for so many dog health problems. Taste of the Wild supplements their dog food with “good” bacteria like Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus acidophilus to help dogs digest, absorb and metabolize nutrients in food that passes through their intestines.

Although a variety of canine probiotic supplements in capsule form are available, dog owners should never feed their dog inferior dog food and think that supplementing this diet with probiotics will keep their dog healthy. Probiotics are formulated to stabilize your dog’s gut flora, reduce the population of “bad” bacteria and significantly improve functioning of your dog’s immune system. They do not provide the nutrients your dog needs to maintain optimal health of his cardiovascular, nervous, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems.

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