While most owners don’t realize it, the worst dry dog foods can make dogs sick and unhealthy over time. Cheap ingredients are used to make dog foods more affordable. Unfortunately, the inclusion of many unhealthy ingredients can lead to obesity, cancer and more.
Some ingredients are used as fillers to replace natural proteins. They add empty calories without much nutritional content. Other ingredients come from questionable sources and contain harmful additives or chemicals.
What are the worst dry dog foods?
Among the worst dry dog foods we can find the following ingredients:
Worst Dry Dog Foods
4-D Meat Products
A term commonly used on cheaper dry food labels is “meat by-products”. This often refers to 4-D meats, which are ingredients that are not considered fit for human consumption. They can come from a variety of different sources. Some include slaughterhouse waste, roadkill, and even slaughtered shelter pets.
While not fit for human consumption, they technically meet the requirements for canine consumption. As a result, many inferior manufacturers use 4-D meats as a protein source.
Because these meat products come from a variety of sources, manufacturers do not have to provide specific details. Instead, they fall under the general term “meat by-products.”
Corn is another ingredient commonly used to help keep costs down. Corn and similar crops are very inexpensive to grow and harvest. They are a filling substitute for natural meat protein.
Unfortunately, dogs are not meant to consume corn on a regular basis. While it may seem fine at first, a lifetime of eating corn can be detrimental to a dog’s health.
Like corn, grains are often thrown into the mix to benefit production costs. Wheat, rice and other grains can be difficult for dogs to digest. Dogs do not have molars to grind grains.
In addition, these grains are often treated with a number of chemicals prior to harvest. These chemicals can transfer into the dog food formula and slowly cause problems as the years go by.
Preservatives, dyes and other synthetic ingredients.
Unfortunately, many synthetic chemical ingredients are used in cheaper formulas. These ingredients are used to extend the shelf life of a product or make it more appealing. In most cases, these ingredients are unnecessary.
More natural alternatives exist to achieve the same results, but many manufacturers avoid them due to cost.
7 Worst Dry Dog Foods to Avoid
The worst dry dog foods you should avoid are:
While Beneful by Purina contains chicken as a protein, it is also full of corn, soy and wheat. These ingredients can cause significant digestive and health problems over time. It also has questionable chicken and poultry. In terms of chemicals, the formula contains numerous artificial colors.
2.- Kibbles N Bits
Once again, corn appears as the first ingredient. There is also meat and bone meal, soybean meal and wheat flour. Notably absent is any natural source of muscle meat. In addition, the formula contains numerous synthetic dyes and hydrochloric acid or preservatives.
While chicken is the primary protein source for Iams, it also contains chicken-derived feeds. It also includes corn meal and whole grain sorghum. Another potentially hazardous ingredient used in the formula is dried pulp. It is used as a sugar filler and can cause weight gain.
Worst Dry Dog Foods
Purina Dog Chow
The main ingredient in Dog Chow is whole grain corn. There is also unfavorable poultry by-product meal, meat and bone meal, whole wheat and soybean meal.
Purina also used four different dyes to achieve the color. Overall, the use of corn, grains and dyes in dry dog food makes it a poor choice for puppies.
This dog food formula is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. The main source of protein is chicken meal instead of healthy chicken.
There is also ground corn, wheat, corn gluten meal, brown rice and grain sorghum. It also contains sweetened beet pulp and citric acid. Overall, the formula can cause weight gain, digestive problems and more.
WalMart Ol Roy
This dry dog food contains no healthy protein source. Instead, it is full of ground corn, soybean meal, ground wheat and meat meal.
Corn is listed as the first ingredient, which means it has the highest concentration. Citric acid is also used as a preservative, which can cause dental and digestive problems.
7.- Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Dry Dog Food
The closest thing to a natural protein in Pedigree is chicken by-product meal. This ingredient is not excellent and can come from unwanted scraps from a variety of sources.
Whole corn meal and corn gluten are also used. A variety of synthetic colors are also used, making this formula an unhealthy choice for everyone.
How bad are the worst dry dog foods?
As a general rule, owners should avoid dog food formulas with ingredients they would not consume themselves. Who wants to eat dead, dying or diseased meats? This particular ingredient is especially harmful to dogs because owners will never know the exact source.
High-quality formulas contain natural proteins from healthy animals. However, 4-D meats are often full of chemicals, hormones, steroids and more.
Not only that, but these rejected and discarded meats can harbor potentially deadly extras. For example, sick and dying animals can contain all sorts of diseases. The same goes for roadkill that can harbor a host of bacteria and parasites.
Worst Dry Dog Foods
Even seemingly innocuous sources, such as expired meat from a grocery store, can be included in the formula without even removing it from the package. Because of the uncertainty with 4-D meats, dogs can be exposed to many harms.
Steroids, insecticides and growth hormones can affect the way they develop and grow, while chemicals and parasites can cause a variety of health problems such as cancer.
Corn and grains are bad for dogs because they are not designed to consume these ingredients on a regular basis. Dogs are carnivores to the core. They do not have the proper teeth to grind grains, which is why processed food with this ingredient is considered one of the worst dry dog foods.
As a result, many dogs can develop digestion problems. The influx of GMOs, insecticides and molds in corn and grain products can also cause allergy and cancer problems.
When it comes to synthetic ingredients such as dyes and preservatives, many options have been found to do irreparable harm. Many dyes have high levels of toxicity that can cause lung problems and death. Some preservatives are carcinogenic and are known to cause organ failure, stomach irritation, tooth decay and more.
How to avoid the worst dry dog foods and choose the right ones.
With the wide variety of dry dog foods on the market, owners can easily find an option that is healthy and beneficial for your dogs. Dry dog food is relatively inexpensive, especially when purchased in bulk, and can be stored fairly easily.
Not all dog foods are the same. To avoid a potentially dangerous formula, it is important to examine the ingredients and packaging. This will ensure that your canine companion is getting the nutrition and protein he or she needs.
Understanding the label of the worst dry dog foods.
One of the easiest ways to choose a quality dry dog food is to look at the label and choose an option that has the phrase “Balanced and Complete.” To legally print this on the packaging, manufacturers must follow government-imposed quality standards.
This government regulation ensures that the formula contains all the nutritional standards necessary to lead a healthy life. It also helps separate good dog food from regular treats and mystery foods.
Another thing to note is a “Declared Protein Content” chart. This chart will provide more information about the level of protein contained in the formula. For dogs, protein is key. They need high levels of protein to develop properly. To make the best choice, owners should choose a protein percentage that fits the particular breed.
These protein charts break down the percentage of various ingredient groups compared to weight. Owners can see how much protein, fat, fiber and other ingredients are in the dog food.
That said, it is also important to drill down into the list of specific ingredients because the protein chart does not distinguish between healthy ingestible proteins and protein sources that are not absorbed as well, plus, it is a good way to identify the worst dry dog foods.
The ingredient list is also organized to make it easier to understand. The various ingredients are listed in order of their percentage by weight. Typically, the first five ingredients will account for the majority of the formula.
The ingredients further down the list are in small amounts. They are often essential vitamins and nutrients that are sprinkled into the kibble after it is extruded and baked at high pressure.
As stated earlier, digestible protein is the most important ingredient to look for. In the ingredient list, look for formulas that have a single word that is easy to understand. A simple label of “chicken,” “beef” and other natural proteins are best.
With something as simple as indicating the type of meat, owners can be assured that the formula contains adequate protein sources.
Worst Dry Dog Foods
While they may not be prime cuts for humans, these meats are still high quality and contain important muscle meat. The best dry dog foods generally contain a variety of different types of meats within the first few ingredients.
Another acceptable type of ingredient is a meat meal. “Chicken meal” or “beef meal” contains ground meat and bones. While it may not look as appetizing, the meals still contain high levels of protein.
They also include a group of essential nutrients. Meal ingredients are not as good for natural muscle meat sources, but are acceptable in quality dry dog food formulas.
They are especially beneficial if used in combination with other natural meat sources. One thing to avoid is a meat by-product. They can include questionable sources such as 4-D meat.
Plant-based proteins have much less usable protein than meats. However, they are found in many dog food formulas. They can supplement meat proteins and provide a number of different nutrients. They do have carbohydrates, which can result in weight gain.
The key to choosing a healthy dog food is to go with plant-based proteins that are beneficial and easy to digest. These include sweet potatoes and peas. Types to avoid are grains such as whole wheat and soy.
Because dog food is processed for a long shelf life, many manufacturers include additives to help with preservation, flavor and more. As mentioned above, synthetic chemical additives should be avoided. There is no need to include synthetic flavoring if the formula contains a large amount of protein.
The same goes for dyes. In terms of preservation, it is good to look for natural alternatives. Options such as absorbic acid, which contains vitamin C, are natural and effective. It will not cause harm like chemical alternatives.
Finding a high-quality dry dog food for a canine companion is all about understanding the ingredients. While cheaper alternatives may be more cost effective, they do more harm than good. With questionable protein sources, such as 4-D meats, harmful corn and indigestible wheat, dogs are at risk for a variety of health problems, especially if you supply some of the worst dry dog foods.
Instead of worrying about digestion problems, cancer and poor development, owners should read the ingredient list and choose an option with healthy ingredients that can help the dog thrive.
6 Homemade Dog Food Options, Benefits & Nutrition
Making homemade dog food may not be realistic to incorporate into your daily (or weekly) routine, but that doesn’t mean your furry friend can’t benefit from a little of these recipes. In fact, in this post we only incorporate homemade meals to give you an idea of what you can provide for your dog from the comfort of your own home. Read on and learn more with us.
What are the benefits of homemade dog food?
Homemade dog food can benefit your canine companion in a number of ways, especially if you have a pet that suffers from allergies, gastrointestinal sensitivities or skin problems.
Highly processed foods also tend to lose nutritional value, while making dog food from scratch maintains more vital nutrients during the cooking process. With fresh food, you can know exactly what your dog is getting instead of reading the label and being confused by all the additives and preservatives included.
It’s also a good idea to keep these recipes on hand in case you run out of dog food. Treat your dog as you would any of the other members of your family by preparing nutritious food from reliable ingredients.
What nutrition guidelines should you follow?
Just like humans, every dog is different, so this is not intended to be a one-puppy rule for everyone. Serving size, your puppy’s weight, health conditions, size and activity level are all factors to consider when determining what is best for your dog.
In general, however, dogs need six basic nutrients to maintain a healthy, balanced diet: water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. A mix of these nutrients provides energy for your dog’s body to metabolize and grow. In addition to regular meals, you can also add a multivitamin such as Zesty Paws Multivitamin Chews to make sure your puppy gets the recommended balance of vitamins and minerals.
Here are the benefits of the necessary nutrients and why it’s important for your puppy to have adequate amounts of each (listed in order of priority).
Protein (chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, fish and cooked eggs) – Helps with the growth and maintenance of cells, tissues, organs, antibodies, hormones and enzymes.
Fat (from oil and meat) – Helps with the absorption of certain vitamins, protects and insulates internal organs and promotes good skin and hair growth.
Carbohydrates (rice, corn and beans): keeps the intestines healthy and supplies glucose to critical organs, including the brain.
Minerals, such as calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron, zinc, etc. – Provides dogs with structurally healthy bones and teeth, among other benefits.
Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K: promotes weight loss, eye and skin health, immunity and more.
Water accounts for 60-70% of a dog’s body weight, so it is critical that they stay hydrated, in addition to eating a well-balanced diet. Dehydration can lead to a number of health problems, so make sure they are also drinking enough water throughout the day.
Before embarking on a homemade dog food plan, consult with a veterinarian to make sure your dog’s diet sufficiently meets all of their nutritional needs.
Low Calorie Dog Food Recipes
A note about calories: all of the recipes below are better for your dogs than canned dog food or kibble, as they are made from natural ingredients with no additives or preservatives. That said, as a result, they are relatively low in calories, but should be consumed in moderation (serving similar portions to what they currently eat).
In the age of UberEats, DoorDash and having just about anything you can think of, we are fortunate to have the option of buying fresh, natural dog food that can be shipped to our doorsteps. It can be a great time saver and can be well worth it after adding up the prices of all the ingredients you’ll need to cook a recipe.
For example, Pet Plate ships frozen so you can store it when you want to treat your pup or serve it every day as part of regular mealtime. No dog will complain about these tasty homemade meals made with fresh, human-grade ingredients – and you can spend your time on more important things, like belly rubs and walks!
Our homemade dog food recipes
We’ve written down some of our favorite homemade dog food recipes.
Our homemade dog food recipes
We’ve written down some of our favorite homemade dog food recipes.
Note: Serving size is not included because portion sizes vary based on a number of factors, including breed, weight, activity level, age and health of your dog. A common recommendation is to feed your dog a comparable amount of ounces/cups to what you would generally feed kibble but check with a veterinarian to be sure.
1.- Doggy Style Beef Stew
A much healthier alternative to canned dog food, this homemade dog food recipe is loaded with fresh protein iron and vitamins and can be stored in the fridge for the better part of a week (or frozen and reheated later).
1 pound of beef stew
1 small sweet potato
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup green beans, diced
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Total: make about 4 cups (or 32 fluid ounces).
Nutritional information (per 1 cup serving):
Calories : 301
Protein : 36.7 g
Fat : 8.4 g
Carbohydrates : 17.4 g
Minerals and Vitamins : Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Potassium
Microwave sweet potato for 5 to 8 minutes until firm but tender. Set aside.
Cut the meat into small pieces, about the size of a nickel.
Cook the beef stew pieces in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove the beef chunks from the pan, reserving the drippings.
Dice the sweet potato.
Heat drippings over medium-low heat. Slowly add flour and water to drippings while whisking to create a thick sauce.
Add the beef, sweet potato, carrots and green beans to the sauce and stir to coat.
Cook until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.
Let cool and serve.
Store remaining stew in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
2.- Turkey, rice and vegetable mixture
This is another excellent low-calorie, low-fat homemade dog food recipe for puppies who may need to keep their weight down. With a good balance of lean animal protein, carbohydrates and healthy vegetables, it makes 12 cups of homemade dog food and can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Six cups of water
One pound ground turkey
Two cups of brown rice
One teaspoon of dried rosemary
One-half package (16 ounces) frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower
Total: 12 cups (or 96 fluid ounces)
Nutritional information (per 1-cup serving):
Calories : 97
Protein : 11 g
Fat : 4.3 g
Carbohydrates : 4.7 g
Minerals and Vitamins : Iron, Potassium
Place all the above mentioned ingredients in a bowl.
Stir with enveloping movements until all the turkey is diluted.
Wait for the mixture to boil and then put it on low heat.
The simmering time should not exceed 20 minutes.
Add the frozen vegetables and let it cook for five more minutes.
Remove from the heat and let it rest.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
3.- Easy Meat and Rice Crockpot Meal
We love this homemade dog food recipe for its nutritional value, quick preparation time (10 minutes) and easy cooking. It yields 12, cups and, like beef stew, can be frozen for future meals.
2 ½ pounds ground beef
1 ½ cups uncooked brown rice
1 (15-ounce) can beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups of chopped squash
1 ½ cups chopped carrots
½ cup frozen peas
4 cups water
Total: approx. 12 cups (or 88 fluid ounces)
Nutritional information (per 1 cup serving):
Calories : 400
Protein : 39.1 g
Fat : 7g
Carbohydrates : 44.2 g
Minerals and Vitamins : Iron, Potassium, Calcium
Add all ingredients with 4 cups of water in a slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low heat for 5 to 6 hours or on high heat for 2 to 3 hours.
Stir as needed and cool to room temperature.
4.- Pumpkin dog cookies
Looking for a digestive aid for dogs? Pumpkin is easy on sour stomachs and can help ease your dog’s digestive problems. These homemade dog food cookies are a great way to introduce an all-natural tummy aid into your pup’s diet.
1 can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oatmeal (optional if your dog is on a grain-free diet, add an additional 1/4 cup grain-free flour)
3 cups whole wheat flour, brown rice flour or gluten-free flour
3 tablespoons peanut butter (make sure it does not contain xylitol)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
5.- Grain-free dog food recipe: chicken jerky strips.
Don’t trust store-bought skins, which often have a ton of additives and preservatives? Homemade chicken jerky strips are a perfect replacement. This homemade grain-free dog food recipe is a much healthier alternative and very easy to make. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long!).
2 to 4 boneless, skinless, 3 oz. chicken breasts
Total: approx. 10-20 strips
Nutritional information (per 1 bar serving):
Calories : 33
Protein : 7.8 g
Fat : > 1g
Carbohydrate : 0 g
Minerals and Vitamins : Vitamin D, Potassium
Oven should be preheated to 200 degrees.
Trim all excess fat from the chicken breasts.
Cut into 1/8 inch thick strips with a paring knife.
Bake for 2 hours on a baking sheet until the strips are dry and hard.
Cool completely before presenting to your dog.
6.- Frozen banana treats
After a long walk in the hot sun, what dog wouldn’t love a refreshing treat? We love this simple recipe: yogurt, banana and peanut butter. It’s a frozen smoothie for your dog – need we say more?
4 cups plain yogurt
2 tablespoons peanut butter (make sure it does not contain xylitol)
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
Total: approx. 8 1 oz. treats
Nutritional information (per 1 serving):
Calories : 150
Protein : 8.5 g
Fat : 3.7 g
Carbohydrates : 19.5 g
Minerals and Vitamins : Calcium, Potassium, Iron
Puree all ingredients.
Pour into 4-ounce plastic cups (ice cube trays or toddler popsicle trays work well).
Freeze until firm.
Can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.