What Ingredients To Avoid In Dog Food

October 24, 2020 5 min read

As pet parents, we all want our dogs to be happy and to live their best lives. 

This can be done through various means, such as making sure your dog gets enough exercise, playing with them, and visiting the vet regularly. 

One of the absolute best ways to ensure your dog’s happiness is to provide them with nutrient-rich food that avoids highly processed ingredients. The most effective method of feeding your dog the right nutrition is feeding a raw diet, specificallythe BARF diet. But beware, many companies advertise as “raw dog food” or best kibble for your dog that uses harmful ingredients.  

Sick Dog

What Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food 


The first red flag you should notice when looking at the ingredients list on dog food is the phrase “feed-grade”. Almost 100% of kibble and wet dog food products are made with feed-grade ingredients rather than human grade. 

The term feed-grade means that the ingredients are not quality enough for humans to eat, but apparently are okay for dogs to eat….

There are many reasons an ingredient could be classified as feed grade. 

Feed grade ingredients have a higher allowance of the percentage of toxins that can be found in the product than in human-grade food. For example, mycotoxins, produced by mold, are allowed in a much high quantity than human grade products. 

To avoid feed-grade and to feed human-grade ingredients is tofeeddog food companies that source human-grade ingredients, like Cali Raw

Meat Meal with Byproducts

Another red flag is when the food is described or labeled as “meat meal” or “meat and bone meal with byproducts”.  

These types of products come from a process called rendering which is quoted to be able to include 

“dead animals from farms, ranches, feedlots, marketing barns, animal shelters, and other facilities; and fats, grease, and other food waste from restaurants and stores”. 


Many of the dead animals being used in these products contain another contaminant calledpentobarbital an anesthetic used to euthanize. 

This is certainly something you do not want to find its way into your dog! 


The next thing to be wary of in your dog’s food is chemicals and preservatives. These are common ingredients for dry dog food to keep a shelf life of over 50 years….

This means kibble fed dogs are being exposed to chemicals such as BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), Ethoxyquin, and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole). 

BHA has a bad reputation (deservedly so) because it is a reproductive toxin and a carcinogen. 

BHT is also a carcinogen and is notorious for causing kidney/liver damage. 

Ethoxyquin, a chemical commonly found in kibble, is illegal to use in human food but is acceptable to use in dog food?

Adding these preservatives just proves that kibble brands care more about convenience than quality. That makes you question what kinds of preservatives are being added to the food to have it stay “fresh” for so long. 

White Flour

This one may come as a surprise to you, but white flour is not good for your dog because it contains tons of carbohydrates.  

Dogs are not able to create insulin at the same rate that humans are. Therefore, they are not able to regulate their blood pressure as easily as us.

Since carbohydrates have a powerful effect on blood sugar in the dog’s body, they cause a spike in blood pressure which then drops below normal directlyCarbs also can lead to weight problems with your dog which leads to many other underlying health issues (diabetes). 

A healthier alternative to white flour would be whole grains or simply just keeping them on a grain-free diet. 

Artificial Colors

If you find your self shopping for dog treats and come across something very bright in color or unnatural looking, it is probably best to stay away from that product. 

Artificial colors have been linked to flaring up certain allergies and causing hyperactivity in dogs, making them very uncomfortable. The only reason the artificial coloring process is done is to attract the eye of the consumer. To make it stand out. 

However, dogs are mostlycolor blind so don’t think your dog would be pressed that their treatment isn’t bright pink! Try to stick to colors that are more natural-looking and stay clear of anything unnatural colors!


While corn is a whole grain, it does get quite a bad reputation when it comes to dog food. Corn is very hard for dogs to digest. 

Many kibble companies like to add corn into their formulas because it contains a good amount of protein. Unfortunately, the protein in kibble's corn doesn't provide any nutritional benefits for dogs. 

The corn is also highly processed to make the corn digestible in the product which diminishes any nutrition that the ingredient would've provided otherwise. 


Cellulose on the ingredients list is a good indicator that something healthy is missing in the formula. 

Recently, cellulose is a type of fiber that comes from wood and plant materials. Dog food companies have been adding cellulose as an additive and healthy fiber meant to help with digestion. However, this type of fiber which acts as a filler instead becausecellulose is almost entirely indigestible. 

Kibble companies love using cellulose as a filler because they can advertise it as a fiber and it has a similar consistency to fat and extremely cheap. But, they know it does nothing to help your dog digest its food. Cellulose acts as a binder or an emulsifier to stick everything together.  

There are not any healthy alternatives to cellulose you should be looking for. 

If your dog is eating a whole and balanced diet, they shouldn’t need any additional fiber in their diet since they should be getting enough already. 


Your dog wouldn’t like food with no flavor and their food must be appetizing for them to enjoy it. But, the flavors of your dog’s food should be natural and come from the ingredients, not artificially added. 

If dog food companies have to add flavoring to the products, it most likely is not of good quality and something your dog would not touch if it weren’t for the artificial flavoring. 

Products listed as “bacon-flavored” or “smoke-flavored” indicates that the product is trying to cover up something undesirable in the product or just make up for a lack of tasty ingredients.  

Artificial ingredients are never the same quality of natural ingredients, which is why we suggest avoiding flavored products. 

Good Dog Food Ingredients

The best way to steer clear of these ingredients, without spending hours reading ingredients lists to find the right food, such as araw food diet. Raw dog food, by far, has the least amount of additive, processed, or artificial ingredients in its recipe. Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger to switch your dog to a raw food diet. 

Healthy dog food will list their ingredients that are easy to understand. The protein ingredients would be named meats, such as chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon, or beef. When these ingredients are specified, the ingredients are usually less processed (or not at all with raw food) and usually contain more natural ingredients

If you are interested in high-quality raw dog food with human-grade ingredientscheck out this

Your dog will thank you with lots of kisses and tail wags! 

Read More: Foods That Dogs Can Eat