Are you the type of person who checks the ingredients of the food you’re buying at the grocery store? Are you just as diligent when you’re feeding your pet?

Whether you’re new to pet parenthood or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s important that you stay aware of the ingredients in the food you’re feeding your dog. There are many common red flag ingredients in popular pet foods, so we’ve put together a handy guide to reading the labels and making sure your dog is getting what they need and staying away from what they don’t.  

Since certain ingredients are better for your dog than others, here are some great ingredients to keep an eye out for.

What To Look For
Seeing ingredients such as blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate or raspberries indicate that the food is likely rich with antioxidants. These ingredients help to boost the immune system of your pet and accelerate healing processes. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from flaxseed and salmon oil help contribute to a shiny coat while mixed tocopherols and Rosemary extract act as natural preservatives in food. When you’re looking at food for a senior dog, salmon oil and turmeric together provide anti-inflammatory properties that support your pet’s mobility. If you’re looking at food for puppies, it’s a good thing to check that there are omega-3 fatty acids to help support the normal cognitive development in your young pup.

Another thing to look out for is whether your pet food uses natural ingredients that are familiar to you. Would you eat each individual ingredient in your dog’s food? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track.

What To Avoid
Recognizing what not to feed your pet is just as important as knowing what you should feed them. There are certain qualities in many popular dog foods that should send up red flags and it begins with puppy food. When you’re double checking your bag of puppy food, you’ll want to avoid recipes that discourage a healthy weight-gain for your growing puppy. This is the stage of their life when they require food that is rich in healthy fats that will help to support their high energy levels and growth. As your puppy becomes an adult, it’s important to transition them off of puppy food and avoid feeding them excessive calories. It is equally as important to select the right recipe for their breed size. A large breed adult dog’s nutritional requirements differ from a regular or small breed adult dog’s needs.

Another thing that you’ll want to consider is how specific the ingredients are. For example, “animal fat” is not specific enough, “poultry fat” is better, but your best best is to see something like “chicken fat” so you know exactly what animal the ingredient is coming from. A general rule is the more defined an ingredient is, the better!

Unless you’re transitioning your pet to a new food, it’s important to avoid combining pet foods. Pet foods are created to have the optimum levels of nutrition that your pet needs. If you begin mixing pet foods then your dog may not be absorbing the right balance of nutrients that they require to support optimal health.

Brought to you by Nutram. Nutram is the creator of dog and cat foods produced with Optimum Combinations™ of holistic and natural ingredients that come together to better your pets’ health. Find out more about transitioning your pet’s food at