There are many reasons to feed canned food to your dog. Maybe it’s to top their kibble, making it more appealing (I’ve done that), or to give their kibble “variety” (I’ve done that as well). Maybe it’s because it has more moisture (you’re right!) or is believed to be healthier than kibble, but keeps it affordable (not necessarily).
Whatever your reason, it’s fine. We all do what we can to feed our dogs the best we can with what we have to work with.
But do you know what you are looking for on the labels?
Some hard and fast rules:
No corn, wheat, or soy (highly allergenic as well as possibly GMO). After that it doesn’t matter if it’s grain free or not, you’re just swapping starches around. Do detective work to find out what works or doesn’t work for your dog (example – mine don’t do well with a lot of white potato). Every dog is different. Look for bright eyes and a soft coat.
Avoid Carrageenan (carcinogen, possible cause of cancer).
If possible, skip peas (pretty much in the same category as corn and soy).
Some oils that sound good, but probably aren’t are canola oil, highly processed and inflammatory to the body. And salmon oil cooked to the point of being rancid.
Let’s look at some labels:
This is a digestive care food and starts out looking fairly good.
Then we find starch (easily broken down into sugar) and sugar. Not the best form of foodstuff for a carnivore’s digestive tract. Dogs don’t break sugar down well, leaving poor digestion (possibly gas – eww) and blood sugar spikes. In time it could cause diabetes in your pet.
What does chicken liver “flavor” mean? You can bet it probably isn’t actual liver. Probably a nasty concoction designed to make you dog want to eat this food.
Soybean oil. Gross. Highly GMO (unless specified as non-GMO) and is an inferior protein source. Dogs don’t break it down well. Soybean has also been shown to promote thyroid issues. Just say no.
Cellulose is often something like wood shavings. A filler to make your dog feel like it’s full.
Egg whites need the egg yolks in order for it to be a balanced and beneficial food for your dog.
L-lysine and L-tryptophan tell you they have had to add in extra amino acids (protein building blocks) because the meat sources they put in don’t contain enough. The food isn’t balanced with just real food sources.
Okay. This is a product designed to be only sold by vets. In other words, you vet will prescribe it for your dog. You, thinking if the vet recommends it, it must be appropriate for your dog, will gratefully feed this to your pet … unless you read the label.
I would prefer a meal to a by-product. Almost anything goes in a by-product, but at least they name the meat source. If a meat source isn’t named, stay far, far away.
Rice four might as well be listed as sugar.
Ack! 2 sources of corn. This means corn could potentially be listed first on the label if they were added together. Although pet food companies want you to believe corn is a good protein source for your pets, it isn’t. Corn provides incomplete proteins that are hard for your dog to process. It mostly goes right on through and out the other end. Corn is also GMO and a cause for allergens in many dogs. Steer clear.
What does “natural flavors” mean? Anything. Even MSG.
Cellulose, we already covered, but beet pulp may as well be listed for the same thing. Filler.
Carrageenan. Just nope. Causes cancer.
Pretty much everything in here is just gross and I would never, ever feed this to my dogs.
This is a very low-end commercial product.
Even though it has many problems, I would feed it over that vet prescribed product.
Meals are better than by-product, and a few of the sources are not named, leaving them as questionable meat sources.
Vegetable oil is highly inflammatory and there is no need to add color unless you are trying to hide something.
Unfortunately, this also contains carrageenan.
If this is all you can afford, fine. But consider dressing it up with some of the extras listed below.
This is a very popular brand that just started selling in grocery stores.
It looks really good, doesn’t it? Here’s where knowing what your dog does best with pays off. Peas, sweet potatoes, brown rice, barley, and oatmeal are all starches. My dogs eyes would start to get goopy and their coats will start to feel dirty and coarse.
Unfortunately, it also contains carrageenan. 🙁
Oh, look! An organic one.
The peas and potatoes are a little off-putting, just because of how my dogs respond – and the fact that they are un-needed starches, but all-in-all, not bad.
The biggest drawback? It’s pricey.
Another good one with only chicken and a couple of other ingredients.
Personally, I could feed this in a pinch (don’t forget, I make my dogs their food).
Again though, it’s going to be a bit pricey.
Keep in mind:
Many cans are lined with a lining containing BHA. It has been the source of even human health concerns. It kills gut bacteria, leaving the digestive tract open for a bad bacteria invasion that causes inflammation, leaky gut, allergies, autoimmune disorders, skin, coat and weight issues, and even depression. Stay away from it and it’s cousin BHT.
A lot of companies who don’t use this in their lining will state on their can that it does not contain BHT.
If you can, add:
- some fresh veggies (broccoli, carrots, parsley) to their kibble. Puree with yogurt (see below), or bone broth (no onion) if they a fussy, like mine
- water packed sardines a couple of times per week
- full fat, plain, cultured yogurt (about a tsp per 10 pounds) a couple of times per week
- water packed mackerel instead of sardines
- a chilled, hard boiled egg a couple of times per week (I have a dog who won’t touch hot food. She acts like it is biting her. Haha)
Keep it simple.
Don’t get overwhelmed.
Do the best you can with your specific situation.
Live, Love, Bark,
What other ingredients concern you and why? Let us know in the comments.