In today's pet food market, lots of companies are turning towards limited ingredient list dog treats. This change has been a decade in the making, as more and more scientific studies show that highly processed chemical foods are detrimental to a dog's health. Plus, more people are checking labels, and they are disturbed when they don't know what they are feeding their dog!
With that in mind, here is an overview of why limited ingredient treats are better for your dog, how they can also help you, and what to look out for when purchasing your dog food.
Why are unreadable ingredients bad?
If you look at an ingredients list on any food, human or dog, it usually starts out with some foods that you can pronounce. But as you keep reading, the "foods" get more obscure and you likely can't pronounce many of them. Ingredients like "beta carotene", "malodextrin", and "xanthan gum" are slowly creeping into nutrition labels.
Not every unpronounceable ingredient is bad. Riboflavin, for example, is just a scientific name for Vitamin B. But when a food contains a long list of these strange ingredients, it's likely that the food product isn't natural. Sadly, these unnatural food products are a lot more common than whole foods, especially in the dog treat market.
If you think about the history and evolution of your dog, he started out as a wolf, living on the land and eating as a carnivore. These new packaged foods represent a shift away from those natural foods that your dog is built to survive from. That's what people are so upset about; many dog foods aren't really natural dog foods at all.
What's so great about limited ingredient lists?
Limited ingredient lists, on the other hand, are a lot shorter than these chemical laundry lists, and they often have 100% real food. If you can read a nutrition label in ten seconds and pronounce all of the ingredients, it's a limited ingredient list.
These types of dog treats are a lot better for your canine because they more accurately reflect the dog's natural food habits. And since the ingredient lists are so transparent, it's also likely that they have a nice balance of meats and carbs.
There are also many ways that limited ingredient lists can help you as a pet owner. When you have access to the nitty-gritty details of what your dog is eating, and you can understand all of it, it's much easier to plan their diet accordingly. That knowledge allows you to give your dog a good balance of different types of foods.
Plus, when you can read the ingredients list for yourself, you no longer have to rely on packaging to tell you what's healthy for your dog. To state the obvious, pet food companies have a vested interest in people buying their foods! They aren't going to let you know when a dog food is unhealthy. Instead, they might even add some nutritional labels to try to convince you to buy the product. But if it's a limited ingredient dog treat, you can read the packaging and decide for yourself. Knowledge is power, after all.
Take caution against these industry tricks
What good is buying a limited ingredient dog food if you don't know how to interpret the label? Before you invest your money into this type of food, make sure you know how to properly read the label and get valuable information from it.
The main thing to remember when reading a pet food label is that the most prominent ingredient always comes first. If a dog treat is 50% sugar and 25% Vitamin C, the sugar will come first in the list and the Vitamin C will follow.
You should also get familiar with which ingredients are most important to your dog, and which ones will hurt them. Make sure you take note of which foods your dog seems to have an aversion to, and avoid pet foods with similar ingredients in the future. Everyone knows that dogs can't have chocolate, but your dog may have some other foods that it can't tolerate. When you switch to limited ingredient lists, your dog will be exposed to new foods, so this is a really important precaution to take.
Above all, beware of the practice of ingredient splitting. Sometimes, pet food producers take advantage of the label and split up the main ingredients to make them look less common. For example, if a dog food is 50% corn and 25% meat, they may split the corn up into parts on the label to make the meat look more prominent. As a result, the label may list meat first, but corn is actually the most common ingredient if you add up all its instances.
To avoid falling for this trick, be sure to read the entire label and not just the first item. If you see six different corn products, it's probably a case of ingredient splitting. Lots of pet food producers are getting busted for this practice, so don't worry--you won't have to deal with it for long.
Above all, the movement towards limited ingredient list dog treats marks the start of an era where dogs are happier and healthier. It also makes it easier for humans to feed their dog the right nutrients and keep their beloved pets healthy! As long as you take caution and educate yourself against potential pitfalls, limited ingredient lists will get you well along the way towards a healthier pet.