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- Ingredients: What to Look for & Avoid

What to Look For...
    The first ingredient should be a specific meat, meat meal, or fish meal (chicken meal, lamb meal, beef meal,  mackerel meal, etc) and at least one more in the first 4-6 ingredients.
    Potato-free and grain-free kibbles are less likely to cause food allergies.

Try This: Compare the Following Three kibbles

Using Healthy, Unhealthy, and Filler lists on the right (and common sense), scan down the product ingredients lists below until you no longer find meats.  In some cases, you can't even get started.

Remember, like all ingredient labels, ingredients are listed in order of most-to-least weight (before processing). 
Oh, and remember that these products are intended to feed a carnivore the same thing, every day.

So, which one is Healthiest for your dog?
This is easy.  Right?

 Orijen Adult
Pedigree Adult
Boneless chicken
chicken meal
chicken liver
whole herring
boneless turkey
turkey meal
turkey liver
whole eggs
boneless walleye
whole salmon
chicken heart
chicken cartilage
herring meal
salmon meal
chicken liver oil
red lentils
green peas
green lentils
sun-cured alfalfa
butternut squash
spinach greens
Red Delicious apples
Bartlett pears
licorice root
angelica root
marigold flowers
sweet fennel
peppermint leaf
summer savory
Enterococcus faecium
Vitamin A supplement
Vitamin D3 supplement
Vitamin E Supplement
zinc proteinate
dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product

ground whole grain corn
meat and bone meal (source of calcium)
corn gluten meal
animal fat (source of omega 6 [preserved with BHA & citric acid])
soybean meal
natural flavor (source of meatier flavor)
chicken by-product meal
dried plain beet pulp
ground whole grain wheat
brewers rice
potassium chloride
dried peas
Vitamin E supplement
zinc sulfate
choline chloride
niacin [Vitamin B3]
dried carrots
BHA & citric acid (a preservative)
blue 2
yellow 5
yellow 6
d-calcium pantothenate [source of Vitamin B5]
riboflavin supplement [Vitamin B2]
red 40
pyridoxine hydrochloride [Vitamin B6]
copper sulfate
potassium iodide
Vitamin A supplement
thiamine mononitrate [Vitamin B1]
Vitamin D3 supplement
Vitamin B12 supplement

ground yellow corn
chicken by-product meal
corn gluten meal
whole wheat flour
animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols
soy flour
rice flour
propylene glycol
tricalcium phosphate
phosphoric acid
potassium chloride
animal digest
mono and dicalcium phosphate
dried carrots
sorbic acid (a preservative)
dried tomatoes
calcium propionate (a preservative)
L-Lysine monohydrochloride
choline chloride
Vitamin E supplement
zinc sulfate
ferrous sulfate
yellow 5
manganese sulfate
red 40
Vitamin A supplement
blue 2
copper sulfate
Vitamin B-12 supplement
calcium pantothenate
thiamine mononitrate
garlic oil
yellow 6
pyridoxine hydrochloride
riboflavin supplement
Vitamin D-3 supplement
menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity)
calcium iodate
folic acid
sodium selenite

    Healthy Ingredients.  Specific meat meals are actually better choices than the plain meat.  For example, turkey listed alone is before cooking whereas turkey meal is the turkey after cooking (less moisture and therefore more by weight). 
    Unhealthy Ingredients.  These are just plain unhealthy - Avoid.
    Filler Ingredients.  These are cheap, readily available, take up space, help bind everything together, and then get pooped out.  They are poor sources of protein (vegetable instead of meat).

Healthy Protein Ingredients
  • Turkey & Turkey meal
  • Chicken & Chicken meal
  • Lamb & Lamb meal
  • Beef & Beef meal
  • [Named] fish & fish meal
  • Other [named] meat and/or meat meal (buffalo, deer, etc.)
  • Eggs
Unhealthy Ingredients (avoid)
(most are linked to descriptions)
Filler Ingredients (avoid or minimize)
* = Often cause of food allergies
  • Corn*, wheat*, soy*, oats
  • Potato*, rice, barley, peas
  • [any] Starch, bran, or flour
  • [any] Pulp or pumace
  • Cellulose