What do dogs eat? Dog Nutrition 101

What Do Dogs Eat? What Should Cats Eat?

Dog Nutrition 101

Ingredients in Pet Food to Avoid

What To Look For On The Pet Food Label

Wondering what do dogs eat? What should cats eat? Dog nutrition and cat nutrition begins with a simple principle that you can follow---READ THE LABEL! Buyer beware:  most pet foods and treats are manufactured to make a profit---not with your dog or cat's nutrition needs or health in mind.  


What do dogs eat? A good dog or cat food should contain meat, poultry or fish clearly identifiable in the first ingredients. It should contain familiar ingredients such as turkey and carrots.  Dogs and cats should eat a healthy balance between protein, fiber, fats (especially Omega 3 fatty acids such as flax seed and fish oil) and a limited amount of carbohydrates. Even if a pet food says it is “organic” or holistic, it may be filled with soy and flour, which can contribute to a variety of problems including allergies and urinary tract infections.

What Do Dogs Eat? What To Feed Your Cat or Dog

Dog Nutrition 101


Cereal grains such as corn, corn gluten meal, ground corn, wheat gluten, wheat flour or any other flour can cause inflammation and an allergic response in many pets.  A basic principle of dog nutrition is to avoid these grains.  Many brands include too much of them in an effort to boost the protein level and minimize the cost of expensive animal proteins.  Examples include:  Nutromax, Pedigree,  Bil-Jac, Royal Canin, Science Diet and many more.  Try to find brands that stick with the basics and keep grains to a minimum.  For optimum dog nutrition and cat nutrition, other ingredients to avoid:

Meat and Poultry by-products — Byproducts are much less expensive and digestible than the muscle meat found in higher quality brands. Ingredients vary from batch to batch but can include heads, feet, bone, etc.–not the steak and chicken breast you are seeing in the commercials. For example, chicken by-product meal is made of slaughterhouse waste.  It is the remains after all of the prime cuts have been removed.  Sample brands that contain these:  Fancy Feast, Purina Pro-Plan, Science Diet, Eukanuba, Cesar, Bil Jac and many others including a number of prescription veterinary diets.


Sugar--Sugar is included to disguise the taste of low quality ingredients and to entice your pet to eat more.  Sugar can contribute to inflammation, infections, gum disease and should not be included in a pet's diet.  Sugar is most likely to appear in treats although it is found in pet food brands such as Beneful.  Sample treats that contain sugar:   Milk-Bone Drumsticks, Petrodex Cat Dental Treats, Pup-peroni, MarroBone,  Canine Carryouts and many more! 


Food Coloring and Dyes--Many treats are colored to look like their "fresh" food counterparts.  For example, some treats will be dyed to look like carrots and colored orange.  Some treats are dyed red to look like real meat or bacon---don't be fooled.  They are just food dyes "painting" a picture of what your pet should be eating. Sample brands that contain this include:  Beneful, Fancy Feast Dry Cat Food, Chef Michael's, Purina Dog Chow, Meow Mix, Friskies, Pup-peroni and many more.

Brewer’s Rice — A processed rice product that represents the milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the whole grain rice. This is a lower cost rice product that lacks the nutrients found in its counterpart whole brown rice.  Sample brands that contain these:  Hills Prescription Diets, Royal Canin, Purina Pro-Plan, Science Diet, Eukanuba Adult Maintenance, Fancy Feast


Peanut Hulls, Beet Pulp, Soybean Hulls, Soybean Mill Run — used as an inexpensive filler with little or no nutritional value. Provides fiber and is often used in “reduced calorie” pet foods so that the dog or cat feels satiated. It is better to use green beans, canned pumpkin or other natural sources of fiber.  Sample brands that contain these:  Royal Canin, Purina Overweight Management (OM), Eukanuba Weight Control, Nutro Max Adult Weight Control

Wondering about your dog's nutrition and wanting to be sure what your dog eats is appropriate? There are many high quality pet foods offering superior dog nutrition and cat nutrition available today. Some pets may require a special, “prescription” diet and there are pet nutritionists and holistic veterinarians available who can help you develop a natural alternative. With just a little extra effort in reading labels and becoming educated about the benefits of pet nutrition, you can greatly help your pet to live a longer and healthier life.  Dogs and cats should eat a hypoallergenic protein diet that is low in carbohydrates, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as fish oil, and plenty of fresh vegetables for fiber and extra nutrition.