We have compiled a list of low quality ingredients commonly used in the heavily advertised national brands found in your grocery store, big box or large pet specialty stores. You should avoid these ingredients. The ingredients listed are normally not harmful to your pet, but are low quality and in many cases benefit your pet very little. At All Paws, we are picky about the foods we offer our pet parents. We do not allow any of the ingredients listed here in the foods we carry. AAFCO, the governing body responsible for establishing and regulating standards for all animal feeds including pet foods requires manufacturers to list each ingredient in order to their repective percentage (high to low) of the total content of the overall product. We have defined these ingredients so you can make informed decisions about the food you feed your pet.
Corn Gluten/Corn Gluten Meal[+]
Corn gluten is an inexpensive by-product of human food processing which offers very little nutritional value and serves mainly to bind the kibble together. It is not a harmful ingredient, but it should be avoided simply for its poor nutritional value. When you see the word “gluten” think protein. Brands that use corn gluten or corn gluten meals obtain protein found in corn. While corn in a suitable and digestible source of protein and fat; it is a low cost, low quality ingredient. Protein found in muscle and organ meat and are superior, more digestible and more beneficial to your pet. Your dog and cat are carnivores. They thrive on quality protein, meat based diets.
Wheat Gluten/Wheat Gluten Meal[+]
Like corn gluten, wheat gluten is normally an inexpensive by-product of human food processing and used primarily as a binder. It has little nutritional value. Wheat gluten is a very common binder used in the vast majority of treats found in the big box. Wheat and wheat gluten are the most common food allergens in dogs.
Brewers rice is a cheap filler. Period. Not to be confused with whole grain, brown rice – an acceptable binder when used in moderation. Brewers rice is used as a inexpensive binder and source of fiber and offers virtually no nutritional value to your pet. It has become a very common, low quality ingredient used by the national brands. Since pet owners have become aware of ingredients like corn and wheat, manufacturers are replacing one cheap ingredient for another. Brewers rice is a processed rice product missing most of the nutrients found in whole grain rice. Contrary to what pet food manufactureres want you to believe; brewers rice is not a quality ingredient.
Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6[+]
Your pet could care less about what their food looks like. Artificial colors are used for your benefit, not your pet. Artificial colors are not good for your pet and should be avoided. Artificial colors have been linked to tumors in dogs.
Many brands found in the big box or large pet supply chains contain animal fat. Animal fat is a low cost ingredient. Do not accept any ingredient where the source is not identified. “Animal” can be anything and come from anywhere. And it usually does. When the source is not specified; it is not required to originate from slaughtered livestock. Do not accept any ingredient with non-descript sources like “animal” , “poultry” , or “meat”. Rendered animals can be obtained from any source. Although it can derive from anywhere, animal fat is quite often refuse from the restaurant industry.
Another cheap, inferior ingredient. Like animal fat, the product source is not defined. It can come from anywhere. It can be one of the 4-D, turkey, chicken, geese, buzzard, seagulls, misc birds euthanized at shelter.
Powdered Cellulose or Cellulose[+]
A personal favorite ours. What exactly is powdered cellulose? Powdered cellulose is a fancy name for paper. Dried wood is the most common source for cellulose. This is without a doubt the cheapest fiber you can get. It is cleaned, processed into a fine powder and used to add bulk and consistency to cheap pet foods. This ingredient has absolutely no nutritional value. Defining powdered cellulose as a cheap ingredient is an understatement. You would be surprised which well known, heavily advertised brands use this ingredient.
Peanut hulls is a close second to powdered cellulose as the cheapest fiber found in pet foods. You may ask yourself why would any manufacturer use peanut hulls in my pet’s food. That is a good question. The only explanation we have ascertained is the simple reason it is cheap. Has no nutritional value whatsoever and is used as a cheap filler and source of fiber.
Animal digest is the true mystery meat of pet food. It is used as a flavoring agent (a very cheap flavoring agent) of low quality foods. Animal digest is a cooked down broth made from unspecified part of unspecified animals. This non specified ingredient can come from anywhere…and it usually does. The animals used are obtained from any source so there is no control over the quality of the ingredient. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, roadkill and even euthanized dogs and cats.
BHA and BHT are preservatives used to preserve fats and oils in pet foods. It has yet to be definitively proven to be a carcinogenic in animals, but ongoing studies suggest they very well could be. Most pet food manufacturers no longer use the controversial ingredients.
Beef and Bone Meal[+]
A very low quality by-product made from beef parts which are not suitable for human consumption. It can incorporate the entire cow, including the bones after the quality cuts have been removed. This is an inexpensive ingredient used to boost the protein percentage.
Chicken By-Product Meal[+]
Chicken by-products are much less expensive and digestible than the chicken muscle meat. The ingredients from batch to batch can vary greatly (head, feat, bones, etc) as well as the quality. The nutritional values are inconsistent. By-products consist of any parts of the chicken other than meat.
Poultry By-Product Meal[+]
Poultry by-product can be obtained from any part of any slaughtered fowl. It can be heads, feet, bones or organs. Once again, the source is not defined so it can come from anywhere. The quality consistency varies from batch to batch because of origin varies.