Originally Posted by greenmagick
Actually, I have heard that you want a meat meal to be first. If just the meat is listed it includes water weight so once its turned into kibble, it would drop down on the ingredient list. You dont want meat by products to be your first ingredients, but meat meal is good.
I could be wrong on that.
This is correct. 70% of meat is water, and they list ingredients by weight. So, if it says "chicken" as the first ingredient, and say they put in 10 pounds of chicken, what you really get is 3 pounds of chicken, and 7 pounds of water that is cooked off in the kibble making process. This means in a food with ingredients like- Chicken, Rice, Barley... there is likely more rice and barley in the finished product than there is chicken, because they are counting the water weight of the chicken. If, however they use chicken meal, that just means its been processed to lower the water content- normally it is ground and dried. 10 pounds of chicken meal in a food is 10 pounds of actual chicken protein that your dog is getting.
I avoid foods that only list whole meats. Meals are a must. So-
Chicken, Rice, Barely = not much chicken
Chicken meal, rice, barley= more chicken
A common thing to find is foods that go like this-
Chicken, chicken meal, rice, barley - in this case, the chicken is ok because it is immediately followed by a meal
The one thing you want to watch for is to make sure it is a NAMED meal- it should say "chicken meal" or "turkey meal" - Poultry meal is low quality and can contain any number of birds from unsavory sources.
For red meats it should say " beef meal" or "lamb meal" - "meat meal" or "meat and bone meal" are low quality products that can actually contain all sorts of nasty things
Also avoid "animal fat" or "poultry fat" which has the same issue. "Chicken fat" is a good ingredient.
The other thing to look for is by-products- you don't want them. Avoid "animal by products, chicken by products, chicken by product meal etc etc. If it says "by products in any form, you don't want to feed it to your dog.
There are a few other things to look for- artificial coloring is to be avoided, as are sugars and syrups near the top of the ingredient list, and two perservatives called "ethoxyquin" and "BHA" or "BHT" which are known carcinogens.
Allergy wise, avoid foods with corn, wheat, soy, and beef for sure. Chicken is a fairly common allergy as well. And I've heard avoiding sorghum is a good idea.