If the dog food ingredients list is labeled meat by-products and includes corn, grains, flavors, additives, and artificial ingredients, that is a red flag for the dog food brands to avoid entirely. The ingredients mentioned above are cheap to grow, maintain, and harvest which makes the dog food obviously cheap compared to other reputable brands on the pet food market.
Unfortunately, most pet owners fail to understand the adverse effects such unhealthy dry dog foods have on their pooches. While the results may not be immediate, they will manifest when your canine buddy starts to get sick suddenly leading to diseases like cancer, obesity, and more.
Today, we shall reveal all these red flags and tell you the naked truth about what you have been feeding your pooch. Let us look at what dog food brands not to buy.
Table of Contents
Why You Should Avoid a Dog Food Brand
You should avoid these dog food brands because they do not offer the required nutrients (if any) that your canine friend needs to thrive.
The commercial dog foods you find on shelves and see in ads with alluring packaging bags and colors are prepared differently. Most of them contain ingredients from unidentified or dubious sources. These fillers and empty calories are used to substitute natural proteins with substantial nutritional value to your dog’s diet.
In fact, some dog food brands even include human foods that are unsafe for your pooch and give false but persuasive nutritional value they have on your pooch. Before you know it, their pockets are full while yours are being emptied terrifically trying to fight for your dog’s life.
4 Main Ingredients in Dog Food Brands to Avoid
Here are the major ingredients that you will find in low-priced, substandard dog foods that make the brand worth avoiding:
- 4-D meats & meat by-products
While a few dog food brands will use human-grade ingredients and others premium ones, others will use meat by-products from unidentified sources just because it’s not human food. Meat by-products include slaughterhouse waste like organs and bones after human edibles are packed.
Some people will argue that these left-overs are a good protein source, but it does not match the nutrients of real meat. 4-D meats, on the other hand, are even worse as it refers to meats from “dead, dying, diseased, or disabled” animals. It sounds disgusting, right? I know!
- Artificial ingredients
Artificial or synthetic ingredients are used in cheap dog food brand recipes to prolong the shelf-life of the products or adding flavor. These chemicals are just fillers with no nutritional value to your dog’s diet and life.
There are natural and healthy preservation alternatives but these brands avoid them to cut on the production cost and increase returns. So, avoid these brands as they avoid premium ingredients.
If you did not know, dogs do not have molars in their dental formulas to aid in grinding grains such as rice and wheat. And just like artificial ingredients, such grains (and more) are added to cut the cost of production.
Even worse, almost all of them are GMOs which means that the chemicals used in cultivation can feature in your dog’s diet. Do I need to state the obvious? Your dog will develop health issues as he ages.
Just like grains & synthetic ingredients, corn is thrown into the mix to cut the production costs. They too are cultivated in the same way as grains and used as a protein alternative to natural meat. Do you see any nutritional value in a corn-filled diet? No!
Corn should not be fed regularly to our canine friends and while there are no immediate effects, your pooch’s health will worsen as time goes by.
Do you need rocket science to comprehend that? I doubt. So, which are these dog food brands to avoid? Let us blow the whistle on these brands so I will not have to say ‘I told you so!
List of 10 Dog Food Brands to Avoid
So, what are the dog food brands to avoid and why? Here are the 10 culprits that we shall unmask today so if you have a bag in your house shelf you have to get rid of right now! Check out this list of dog food brands to avoid.
- Kal Kan Complete Adult
- Purina Dog Chow
- IAMS Dog Food
- Twin Pet Dog Food
- Kibbles ‘n Bits
- Ol’Roy by Walmart
- Beneful by Purina
- Gravy Train
- Cesar Filets
10 Dog Food Brands to Avoid
In this review, we shall look into the ingredients that make these dog food brands to avoid so you can shop smarter and choose premium brands instead. When you see them being promoted, shout out to your neighbor, family, and friends not to be blurred by the marketing clichés.
Kal Kan Complete Adult
The reason why Kal Kan Complete Adult features at the top of the list is that its recipes contain NO healthy meat-based protein. In its place, Kal Kan uses corn as the first ingredient in its formula which is a red flag to your dog’s health. Corn farming also uses chemicals – that’s GMO.
To make matters worse, the dog food brand uses bone meal and soybean meal which are nothing but grind bone & cartilage and soy oil by-products, simultaneous. How do you even know from which animal the bones came from? It could be any of the 4-Ds.
Purina Dog Chow
Purina is a reputable dog food brand. But unfortunately, its Dog Chow dog food in its line of products contains whole grain corn as the first ingredient. Do you sense digestion issues? Now, add poultry byproduct meal, bone meal, and meat meal to the mix and your pooch is in danger!
As if that is not enough, Purina dog foods are colorful which means that artificial colors are used to make it more enticing and palatable. This is a dog brand to avoid for puppies, adults, and seniors. If you love your pooch, stay away from this dog food brand.
IAMS Dog Food
IAMS dog food uses chicken as the first ingredient, which is a terrific protein source with loads of benefits to your dog’s health. Things, however, gets ugly from here with fishy ingredients such as corn meal and chicken byproduct which makes it a dog food brand to avoid. Read about IAMS dog food recalls here.
In addition, this dog food includes sorghum (with similar nutrient content to corn meal) and beet pulp which is a high-fiber byproduct with risks of weight gain. Now, blend all these with the litigious byproduct that has unspecified sources.
Twin Pet Dog Food
Yet another dog food with corn as the first ingredient, Twin Pet Dog Food is a dog food brand to stay away from. While the dog food includes meat byproducts, it allures to promoters of a plant-based diet. Meat byproducts are a red flag to any dog’s diet compared to real meats ingredient.
Even worse, this dog food brand includes huge quantities of wheat middling that is cheap, inferior spin-offs of processing cereal grains. Some plants have nutritional value to a dog’s health, but they also need meat to thrive well. So, this dog food brand is bad for your pooch.
Kibbles ‘n Bits
Produced and promoted by Big Heart Pet Brands, Kibbles ‘n Bits is a dry dog food brand to avoid completely. Why so you may ask? The first ingredient in this dog food is corn which is a red flag and contains no natural meat in the recipes. Instead, the formula uses meat byproducts like bone meal.
Add artificial food preservatives and additives to the mix and you have the crystal clear clarity of double-trouble health problems for your dog. Meat meals are a substandard ingredient for dog food, so this is a dog food brand to stay away from.
Ol’Roy by Walmart
Like almost all the other worst dog food brands to avoid on the list, Ol’Roy by Walmart uses corn as the first ingredient in its recipe which is bad news for your dog. Instead of featuring healthy protein sources, this dog food uses meat meal and soybean meal.
Even worse, Ol’Roy dog food formulas use citric acid as a food preservative which is linked to teeth problems and digestion disorders. Are you convinced now?
Beneful by Purina
A dog food brand from Nestle Purina Petcare global, Beneful has chicken as the first ingredient and protein source. What makes it a dog food brand to avoid, however, is that it is filled with wheat, soy, and corn. And as we saw above, these ingredients, in due course, result to sizable digestive issues and health disorders.
Although Purina includes meat as the first ingredient, the chicken and by-product sources in this dog food brand are dubious which raises an eyebrow. Besides, the brand is known for its colorful look which means artificial food additives are included in the formulas.
Blend the fillers above with synthetic additives to the real meat and you have real health trouble.
While Gravy Train includes a small red meat in its dog food recipes, the inclusion of suspicious meat byproducts and poultry byproducts overrides the benefits of real meat so avoid it totally. In addition, the dog food includes significant amounts of cornstarch and soy making it worse.
As if that is not enough, Gravy Train includes synthetic preservatives and additives which is why it should be a brand to avoid. Don’t be blinded by the red meat content. There are better options!
A dog food brand to avoid for small dog breeds, Cesar Filets recipes are crafted using unhealthy meat byproducts which are unsafe for your dog’s overall health and digestion. On top of that, the dog food brand uses very high amounts of salt in its dog foods.
This wet food can lead to substantial health risks as your dog nears the golden age due to high sodium content. Common risks linked to excessive salt intake includes aggravate heart disease symptoms and increased blood pressure. So, keep off from this dog food brand completely.
Pedigree is a dog food brand with a huge line of products promoted towards pups, adults, and senior pooches. Why you should avoid it is because its recipe contains whole grain corn as the first ingredient which is not easy to digest for dogs and is also a common allergen.
As you can assume, the Pedigree dry dog food brand is fairly affordable and convenient. In addition to corn, the dog food includes artificial flavors which are also unsafe for your dog’s health. Pedigree may not be as detrimental as other dog foods on the list, but that does not make it any better either. Pedigree has also had several recalls
FDA Dog Food List
The FDA named 16 dog food brands that have been associated with canine heart disease. This is after over 500 reports featuring dog foods promoted as grain-free have been linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy. Read the report here
This condition comes after dogs consume certain dog foods which contain a high proportion of lentils, potatoes, peas, among other legumes as the first ingredient. The dog food brands below are categorized by the number of cases associated to them, ranging from 67 to 10.
Dog food brands to avoid FDA:
- Taste of the Wild
- Earthborn Holistic
- Blue Buffalo
- Nature’s Domain
- California Natural
- Natural Balance
- Nature’s Variety
- Rachel Ray Nutrish
Although semi-moist, wet, and raw foods were featured in the investigations, most of these cases were linked to dry dog recipes. The FDA has not prompted pet owners to keep off from these dog food brands. Instead, the FDA urges dog parents to work closely with their vets as the analysis continues.
Is Purina Pro Plan a good dog food?
Yes, Purina Pro Plan is good dog food. This is because the formula uses meat from identified sources as the first ingredient plus few grains.
Is Purina Beneful food for dogs?
No, Purina Beneful food for dogs is not good for dogs. While it offers different meat flavors as the first ingredient, there are lots of fillers including the reputable colors which means additives are added to make is enticing. These colors are a problem to your dog’s health.
Are there cancer-causing dog food brands?
Yes, there are cancer-causing dog food brands on the market, especially if they contain BHT and BHA. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared these preservatives as suspicious as they contain compound that cause cancer.
Which dry dog food brands to avoid?
All the dog foods brands mentioned above are dry dog food brands to avoid. That is because they contain limited to no meat, synthetic ingredients, unidentified meat sources, and a lot of whole grains. The foods have not been graded as ‘complete & balanced’ by AFFCO.
Which are wet dog food brands to avoid?
The dog food brands to avoid include Purina Mighty Dog, IAMS Proactive Health Senior wet dog food, Royal Canin puppy canned dog food, and Pedigree wet dog food. These foods have no specified meat source as the first ingredient, are not accredited as ‘complete & balanced’ by AAFCO, contains artificial substances, and includes only whole grains and veggies.
Dogs thrive on an excellent diet which means that you have to pay close attention to if you want to improve your furry friend’s life expectancy. Besides, nutritious dog foods made with premium ingredients boost your dog’s health despite having a high price tag.
Now that you know what dog foods to stay from, think of the mantra ‘cheap is expensive’ when thinking about dog food. Your canine buddy is a member of your family who deserves to eat the best there is on the pet foods market.
Take time and pick the premium option there is and remember to read the ingredients list. Make sure your dog gets everything he needs!
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com