It took me only 60 seconds to read the ingredient list and longer to find it—hidden on the side of the bag. So where is the beef? The 7th ingredient listed right after rice flour. Remember this: the first three ingredients generally account for 90% of what’s in the bag.
While Purina can claim that Beneful contains beef (simply because it is listed somewhere on the label), you would be a fool to buy their buzz: “contains meaty chunks with real beef.” What they don’t mention are the actual protein sources they have chosen to use: ground corn, chicken by-products, and corn gluten—the first three ingredients listed on the label. For flavor, they add sugar and sorbitol, ingredients #11 and #12, and to engineer the food to make it look like meaty chunks, artificial dyes (Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 2) are added to this witch’s brew!
Isn’t food chemistry amazing? And with the help of slick TV and Internet ads, pet food companies can sell hog food to dogs as long as there is an ample supply of stupid consumers. Ignore advertisements and learn to read labels. Don’t buy hype.
For a quick lesson in how to market and sell anything, visit:
To stay ahead of the pack, you simply must learn how to read pet food labels. I tell my clients it’s required reading before buying any pet food. You need to look beyond attractive packaging and even name brand favorites like Science Diet and Iams. These pet industry giants put their profits into clever advertising, not quality ingredients. In fact, after reading my take home points below, your dog may be dining on your leftovers tonight!
Here are some take home points found in How to Feed Your Dog if You Flunked Rocket Science:
- Protein is the single most important ingredient in selecting your dog’s diet. So, choose only the best quality of commercial foods or prepare your own diet at home. Look for commercial diets that list the source of animal protein (such as chicken, turkey, salmon, rabbit, duck, and venison) as the first and second ingredients.
- Meat meals can be inferior sources of protein, depending on how they are manufactured. If used, they should be listed as the 2nd or 3rd ingredient.
- Grains do not add much in the way of useful protein and should be considered primarily as a source of calories for active dogs. Carbohydrates from grains should be restricted in overweight dogs, as they can contribute to obesity.
- Avoid all brands that list any meat by-products or grain by-products such as wheat and corn gluten, gluten meals, and wheat middlings. NO by-products, period!
- Look for natural preservatives like vitamin C and Vitamin E—avoid artificial chemicals such as BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin. Added color dyes and artificial flavors are NOT acceptable. These are attempts at making poor quality products look and taste better—fooling you to buy them and your dog to eat them!
FYI: According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pet-food labeling, terms such as “gourmet,” “premium”, and “natural” don’t have any official standing. Foods labeled as such aren’t required to contain any different or higher-quality ingredients or to meet any higher nutritional standards than any other complete and balanced pet food. And the famously secretive pet food industry is no different than, say, Coca-Cola when it comes to protecting its recipes, ingredients, and manufacturing processes. It is, after all, a multibillion-dollar business.
And remember—home prepared diets are always an option any time you choose to prepare a meal for yourself or your family. Just cook a little extra for members of your furry family. Good sources of protein are chicken meat, lean ground turkey meat, fish, eggs, and cottage cheese.
For examples of honest premium pet foods—see my picks of the litter:
Frozen Raw Diets:
Nature’s Variety: naturesvariety.com
95% meat, organs, and bone; grain-free; and contains small amounts of fruits and vegetables. Organic available
Natura Pet Products: naturapet.com
EVO—Grain-Free kibble, made from human-grade food sources
Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Company: evangersdogfood.com
Great selection of 100% canned meat diets. Organic available
Check out the ingredient lists posted on these websites and compare with the diet you are feeding.
Now that you are a bona fide pet food label detective—you can find the real deal. Pass up bargain pet foods—don’t bargain with your dog’s health!