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Your Dog’s Food: The Ugly Truth


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I meet lots of caring, committed dog owners … who unwittingly feed their dogs or puppies dreadful food.   Crafty manufacturers do not make it easy for us to decipher their ingredients labels. So, here are some pointers to help you analyse those labels and sort the good, the bad and the truly ugly! (Image above from

Dont believe the hype

Buyer beware:  Dont be fooled by advertising hype. If the advert focuses on pretty pictures rather than the quality of the product or how its produced consider why? What are they avoiding? Manufacturers make an art form of camouflaging the gunk and filler ingredients they use.  Check the label does it contain “meat meal”?  Do you know what that actually means …?

What is Meat ‘Meal’?

‘Meal’ refers to slaughterhouse remnants.  The stuff that is not fit for human consumption.  Think ground up beaks, toenails, hooves, eyeballs, brain – ugh!   Meat ‘derivatives’ or ‘rendered’ meat are other terms for the same ghastly stuff.  If your dogs food has that in it, throw it out!

Read more about the horrors of meat meal here:

Proper meat/fish

A good quality pet food should have a meat/fish percentage that’s at least 50% – preferably 70% or higher.  And I mean proper meat/fish – ie human grade meat (not meat meal/derivatives) – proper protein to nourish your dog.  NB: Most dog food brands barely get above 20%.  

Cheap ‘fillers’

Beat pulp, maize, corn meal, wheat middlings, poultry digest, brewers rice – these are all filler ingredients.  There is no need to put that gunk in your dog’s food.  Manufacturers add it to increase bulk and decrease the quantity of proper meat/fish they can get away with.  For manufacturers – it adds bulk and reduces costs.  It’s a farce.

But My Vet sells it …

Interesting!  There are many wonderful Vets out there but remember they are trained medically not nutritionally.  It’s also possible that the Vet practise may be receiving an incentive from pet food sales reps.  Royal Canin and Hills Science Plan are two common offenders.  Take a look at their ingredients; it’s not nutritious and definitely overpriced. A total con.

The Labels Game – Your Turn!

Now you have a better idea of what is and what is not required in your dog’s food, take a look at these popular brands’ ingredients labels.  We’ve highlighted in red the dodgy stuff!

KIBBLE (dry food)

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Kibble: The good, the bad and the truly revolting!


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Raw food: Good, better best!

Less gunk = less poop!

I’m shocked by the gunk some manufacturers put into pet food. Every day clients tell me their dog or puppy wont eat their food. Then we look at what’s in it – and its clear why.  No wonder so many puppies don’t bother to finish their food or graze slowly.  They’re trying to tell you it tastes awful and they’ll only eat it if absolutely desperate.  Change the food and, hey presto the pup wolfs it down!   And guess what? Another advantage of feeding better quality food is that your dog’s (ahem) poop, is less smelly, there’s less of it and its easier to pick up – yay!

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How to get it right

  1.  Read the label carefully.  Reject anything with meat meal/derivatives.
  2. Don’t be fooled by sexy advertising jargon. Good quality products speak for themselves.
  3. Buy the best quality food you can afford.  It’s cheaper in the long run, fewer stomach upsets, joint problems, allergies, behaviour issues. 
  4. Avoid the following brands. These foods are predominantly meat ‘meal’ and filler.  NB: These brands aren’t the only offenders just the ones I most commonly see causing problems.
  • Bakers
  • Cesar
  • Harringtons
  • Hills Science Plan
  • Iams
  • Pedigree Chum
  • Royal Canin

Book help for your dog?

If you’d like impartial advice about feeding your dog a healthy diet, contact Joyful Dogs. We’ll help you suss out the good from the bad pet foods so you know how to feed your dog the best quality food for your budget.

Call 07717 894414 to find out how Joy can help you train your puppy