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The Essential Guide to Dog Food

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The Essential Guide to Dog Food

By PetMD

These days we often hear reports about dog foods that can harm our pets. In 2007, over one hundred dog food brands — including some well known brands — were recalled due to a tainted ingredient which was imported from China, making some dogs sick and killing others. More recently, salmonella has become a concern for various dog food items.

As responsible dog owners, we need to know how to read complicated dog food labels. Or better yet, feed our dogs with a healthy, well-balanced meal made at home.

So, what is a healthy diet for your dog?

Whether you buy canned food from stores or prepare your dog’s meals at home, you have to ensure that the following ingredients are included in your dog’s diet: protein, carbohydrates and fiber.

The most important ingredient is protein. In the past, dogs primarily survived on a diet of meat. This ensured that they consumed large quantities of protein, essential for energy. Fortunately, your dog is not as picky as you are when it comes to the cut of meat or the part of the body the cut comes from. In fact, it is the cuts of meat that we are least likely to eat that are best for dogs and therefore, they cost much less at your local butcher or grocery store. Ask for green tripe (the lining of a cow’s stomach), liver, heart, kidneys; all of these parts are high in concentrated nutrients and form an important piece of your dog’s lifetime development. Eggs and legumes are other sources of protein easily found at the store.

Image Credit: Jordan Batch / via Flick

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Nicolas, selected from petMD

petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit


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2:02PM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

My Dad used to make a "dog stew" for all his dogs that had all kinds of things in it. I wish I had watched a little more closely to how he prepared it, but off falls from the butcher was the main ingredient.

9:25AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

9:58AM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

thanks for the info!

8:51AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

My daughter has a Shiba that has been eating raw chicken (necks included) for the past 12 years. He has no tarter, a beautiful lush coat and amazes the vet when he goes for shots at how healthy he is. Dogs are carnivores and feeding all that dried crap is not what they need. He also gets an egg a week. Read the labels! Even our local supermarket has started stocking raw meat for pets. It's what they need.

6:40PM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

I can't believe there isn't one mention of reading labels on dogfood. They are nearly cryptic: minimums & maximums & percentages with no guide as to what you're looking for in crude protein or moisture. This article was not helpful at all, considering the title.

6:58AM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

Thanks for the info.

6:28AM PDT on Apr 6, 2012


5:40AM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

I don't have a dog, but thank you anyway.

3:50AM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

thank you

12:09AM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

I use Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance (carried by Petco). Very junk free, and even has LID line (Limited Ingredients Diets) for those who can't eat certain foods.
Of course, my dogs will never say no to a bit of chicken or egg or red meat..

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