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Dog Food Ingredients

Here is a list of common ingredients you will find in dog food. While it is not exhaustive yet, we will constantly be adding and updating to make sure you have the most up to date information available.

For a list of herbs that are good for dogs, visit our Herbal Ingredient Guide.

Alfalfa Meal

Alfalfa is a perennial flowering plant that is closely related to peas. It offers a high percentage of protein compared to other plant-based ingredients. While some might think that Alfalfa is used primarily as a filler, it offers nutritional benefits. Alfalfa is abundant in Vitamin K, which is essential to maintaining healthy blood and bones. It also provides Calcium, Vitamin C, Copper, Manganese, Potassium, and Beta-Carotene. Alfalfa does not offer a complete source of amino acids, so dogs still require a meat-based protein in their diet.

Althea Root

Also known as marshmallow root, this flowering plant has many medicinal properties. It works as a demulcent meaning it helps soothe and coat the tracts of your pet’s body. This root can aid in the relief of kennel cough, stomach ulcers, and ward off infections.

Animal By-Product Meal

Animal By-Product Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. It shall not contain extraneous materials not provided for by this definition. This ingredient definition is intended to cover those individual rendered animal tissues that cannot meet the criteria as set forth elsewhere in this section. This ingredient is not intended to be used to label a mixture of animal tissue products. The nutritional value of by-product meals versus meat meals is insignificant.

Animal Fat

Animal Fat is a by-product of rendering, the same process that used high temperatures to make meat meal. The quality can be judged by how it is described on the ingredient label. Look for fats and oils that are clearly identified by their source. Fats are necessary for your dog’s overall diet and health.         


Apples are a good additive to your dog’s food or as an individual treat as long as the seeds and core are removed. They contain vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, and are a great source of fiber. Some vets believe that vitamin C help with joint diseases. Like all fruits, apples should be fed in moderation.

Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Product, Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Extract, Tirchoderma longibrachtum Fermentation Extract, Pineapple Extract

These are enzymes. Enzymes are proteins naturally present throughout all healthy bodies. Enzymes speed up various processes carried out by cells in the body. Certain enzymes are required to digest the different types of foods pets eat. Protease digest proteins, amylase digest starches, cellulase break down fibrous foods, and lipase digest fats. They support the digestive system of dogs and cats.


Barley is a whole grain that is being used in dog’s feed to replace other grains, such as corn and rice. Barley is fiber-rich and contains the lowest glycemic index. Barley is a good option for diabetic and obese dogs when feeding grains.


Basil is an herb that is known for its digestive properties, typically aiding the digestion process and the expulsion of gas. Basil also contains the antioxidant monoterpenes, which has been associated with positive cardiovascular health.

Beef Cartilage

Beef cartilage contains type II collagen and proteins. It can aid in joint pain, arthritis, cell damage repair, and immune health.

Beef Kidney

Beef kidney is considered to be “offal,” or the organ meats from animals. Organ meats are extremely nutritious, more so than muscle meat. It is a great source of vitamin A, B vitamins, and iron.

Beef Liver

Beef Liver, like kidney, is very high in vitamin A, B vitamins, and iron.

Beef Lung

Another offal product, beef lung is a nutritious ingredient to add to your dog’s diet. It is high in protein and iron to promote healthy cell reparation and brain function. Like most organ meats, it is an important source of vitamin B12 and other vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Lung is rich in potassium which promotes healthy heart, nerves, and muscles.

Beef Meal                                                                                      

Beef Meal is a concentrated protein powder that is the end product of the rendering process of the beef meat. It does not include animal by-products such as bones, feathers, beaks, feet, or other body parts. Meal is a more concentrated source of protein in your pet’s food than using just beef. The rendering process takes out all of the water and moisture that is in muscle meat.

Beef Tallow

Beef Tallow is a rendered form of beef fat that is made up of triglycerides. It is used as a high energy and vitamin source and enhances foods texture and flavor.

Beef Tripe

Tripe is the edible offal from a cow’s stomach. Green tripe is the untreated contents of the stomach’s lining. It is high in protein, probiotics, enzymes, calcium, and phosphorous. Most people shy away from tripe because it sounds disgusting, but if left unbleached and unprocessed, can offer many benefits.

Beet Pulp

Beet Pulp is the pulp left over from sugar beets once the sugar has been removed. While the pulp is extracted from sugar beets, the left over product is low in sugar. It offers a source of high fiber and low protein. Beet pulp helps maintain your dog’s gastrointestinal health by absorbing excess water and waste from the digestive tract and when fermented the fiber provides energy.


Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits. It is converted into vitamin A and help with vision. It is also an antioxidant to help prevent disease and infection. Sources of beta-carotene are carrots, liver, eggs, sweet potato, spinach, and broccoli.

Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product (Probiotic)

Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product is a probiotic that is added to your dog’s food to aid in healthy digestion. It comes from a lactic acid producing. Gram-positive, non-motile, anaerobic bacteria.


Biotin is a B complex vitamin that helps the body convert food into energy. It helps keep your dogs’ skin, coat, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy. It can be found in meat, fish, eggs, but in higher concentrations in leafy green vegetables, yeast, and liver organ meat.

Blue 2

Blue No 2 is a synthetic dye. It is also called indogo blue or indigotine. It is a petroleum product that causes the same effects to dogs as it does to humans. Artificial colorings have been linked to hyperactivity, cancers, and abnormal cell development.


Blueberries are an excellent fruit to give your dog. They are considered a ‘superfood’ for your dog containing antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals.

Brewer’s Rice

Brewer’s rice is the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice. It is a processed product that is stripped of the nutrients contained in whole ground and brown rice. It is a low quality grain adding to the carbohydrate intake but offering no other nutritional value.

Brewer’s Yeast

Brewer’s yeast is a single-celled organism responsible for fermentation. It is also used as a dietary supplement and probiotic. It is rich in B Vitamins, antioxidants, and promotes healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver function. It can also help reduce anxiety due to the high levels of B vitamins. Past studies have shown that it can be used as a flea repellant.


Broccoli is safe for dogs to consume. It is high in fiber and vitamin C.

Brown Rice

Brown Rice offers important nutrients to your dog. Whether you choose to feed grain free or use a food with brown rice, your dog will still be digesting carbs. Brown rice is a healthier grain that foods that use corn. It is full of natural fiber, an excellent source of carbohydrates, and vitamins D and B. Rice also contains calcium, iron, and riboflavin.

Butternut Squash

Squash is another nutritious vegetable to feed your dog. Squash is high in vitamin A, an essential vitamin for a healthy immune system, vision, and reproduction. It also contains vitamin B6, vitamin E, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and folate.

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is the carbonic salt of calcium. It is found in the shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. It is added to dog food as a source of calcium, a preservative, and color retention agent. Calcium is essential to the building and maintenance of bones and teeth.

Calcium Iodate

Calcium Iodate is an inorganic compound composed of calcium and iodate anion. Both calcium and iodine are essential minerals for your dog’s health. Iodine is naturally found in seaweed and ocean fish. It helps regulate the thyroid which controls and excretes hormones and maintains a healthy metabolism.

Calcium Pantothenate

Calcium pantothenate is a source of vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid. It is found in meat, vegetables, eggs, milk, and cereal grains. It helps your dog metabolize and utilize the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that they consume for energy.

Canola Oil

Canola oil is a vegetable oil derived from a variety of rapeseed that is low in erucic acid. While canola oil is considered safe due to its low saturated fat and high monounsaturated fat content, it has been a controversial ingredient. Some studies have shown that this low erucic acid oil has caused health issues in animals. It is also a modified and processed ingredient. If you have been feeding it to your pet, low amounts will not harm them.


Carrots are a superfood for you dog. They are a low calorie, high fiber snack that is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, iron, manganese, and beta-carotene. They can also act as a dental treat to help prevent plaque buildup.


Chickpeas are a healthy ingredient for your pet. They have been most popular in grain free foods as an alternative carbohydrate source. While chickpeas are an alternative carb source, they also contain proteins and fiber. Protein is essential for dogs to repair, maintain, and grow muscles and cells. However, chickpeas are an inferior protein source to animal or fish because they lack certain amino acids and harder to digest and absorb. Chickpeas also contain lecithin, potassium, and magnesium.

Chicken Cartilage

Chicken Cartilage is connective tissue that is used as a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which support mobility by slowing the degradation of the joints.

Chicken Fat

Chicken Fat is the fatty acids that have been extracted from the chicken’s tissues. It is a by-product of meat meal production. The fat not only improves the palatability of your dog’s food but also high in Omega-6 Fatty Acids and is vital for bodily functions. It can be used as a concentrated energy source and is a better source of calories because it is twice as caloric dense than protein or carbohydrates.

Chicken Flavor

Chicken flavor is anything that is flavored with chicken that can be detected when eating it. Flavor, however, can come from a number of sources such as, the chicken itself, chicken by-products, or other artificial flavorings. Anything can be deemed natural, except artificial flavors. According to the FDA, pet foods contain digests, which are materials treated with heat, enzymes, and acids to form concentrated natural flavors. Only a small amount of ‘chicken digest’ is needed to produce chicken flavored food.  When you chicken or beef flavor on your bag, make sure it is from a trusted source.

Chicken Meal

Chicken Meal is the dry rendered (cooked) product from a combination of clean chicken flesh and skin. It is called meal because of the way it is ground up. It does not contain organs, feathers, feet, heads, etc. Most shy away from the word ‘meal’ on an ingredient label, but meal is actually more nutritious. It is used in pet food because the moisture content (10%) is much lower than actual chicken breast (70%) and the protein value is much higher. Chicken Meal also contains linoleic acid. When you see ‘meal’ make sure it is preceded by the specific type of protein (chicken, beef, lamb, etc.), not just meat meal. This will ensure you are getting a higher quality.

Chicory Root

Chicory Root is root of a plant. It is a rich source of inulin, a water-soluble fiber. It is not digestible and can be used to replace dietary fat or sugar, resulting in a lower calorie food. It is used as a prebiotic and probiotic to keep a healthy digestive tract. Chicory stimulates good bacteria in the gut to ward of disease, decrease inflammation, and discourage harmful bacteria.

Choline Chloride

Choline chloride is an organic compound containing quaternary ammonium salt and an alcohol. It is a source of B vitamin choline that is naturally occurring in eggs, liver, fish, meats, soybean, and wheat germ. It supports the communication between nerve cells, which in turns supports your dog’s liver function and cell metabolism. Your dog’s body cannot store choline chloride so it must be replenished daily.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is a natural preservative derived from citrus fruits. Citric acid is used instead of artificial preservatives.

Cobalt Carbonate 

Cobalt carbonate is an inorganic compound that is used as a component of dietary supplements since cobalt is an essential element. It is the standard source of cobalt and is used to vitamin B12 synthesis.

Coconut Meal

Coconut Meal is the residue after the extraction of coconut oil and is used as a protein supplement. Coconut possesses anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. Coconut meal can also help normalize the digestive system.


Copper is an essential mineral for dogs and humans. However, just the ingredient copper is not descript, indicates oxide form, and is hard for your dog to absorb. Copper is needed for your dog’s body to absorb iron, bone formation, protein metabolism, and prevent blood clots.

Copper Amino Acid Chelate

Copper amino acid chelate is a better form of copper. Chelates are a metal ions that are used in food supplements for quick and easy absorption. Copper is needed for your dog’s body to absorb iron, bone formation, protein metabolism, and prevent blood clots.

Copper Proteinate

 Copper proteinate is the best source of copper. Proteinates are a type of chelated mineral that has been chelated with short-chain peptides and amino acids. Minerals are bound to amino acids making them more bioavailable. Copper is needed for your dog’s body to absorb iron, bone formation, protein metabolism, and prevent blood clots.

Copper Sulfate

Copper sulfate has been the standard use for copper in dog food over the years. However, there are claims that sulfate is poisonous and toxic to pets. Copper is needed for your dog’s body to absorb iron, bone formation, protein metabolism, and prevent blood clots, but chelated forms are the best use.

Corn (Ground/Whole)

Corn is a grain and vegetable. It is not easily digestible and does not have a low glycemic index compared to other dog food ingredients.  Unless the kernel is first refined into a meal or flour then cooked, it cannot be fully digested. Corn does not offer a high nutritional profile that is rich in vitamins and minerals. Corn was not in dog’s diets until the invention of kibble. It was used to raise the calories but keep it cheap.

Corn Germ Meal

Corn germ meal is the by-product of oil extraction from corn germ obtained from the corn processing. It contains protein and a slow release starch. Corn has been known to be a filler ingredient and cheap source of carbohydrates. Corn germ meal is only a by-product that is rich in protein. The protein found is not a complete source of amino acids.

 Corn Gluten Meal

Corn gluten meal is the dried meal from corn after the starch has been removed and the germ has separated from the bran. It is a protein residue that has been stripped of carbohydrate value. Gluten is a plant-based protein concentrate and meat substitute. It is used to make the protein content seem higher, without adding nutritional value. It is not a true gluten-which is made from wheat and other cereal grains.

Cracked Pearled Barley                Cracked pearled barley is barley that has been dehulled by machine brushing and the bran has been removed. Barley adds protein, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals.


Cranberry is a fruit that is high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Cranberries are mainly used to treat bladder and urinary tract infections. Due to its anti-adherent properties, bacteria cannot stick to the linings and walls of the urinary tract organs. Try adding cranberries to your dog’s diet or making some homemade biscuits. Feed in moderation due to sugar content.

D-Calcium Pantothenate

Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin and, for many animals, an essential nutrient.  Animals require pantothenic acid to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It also shows up as vitamin B-5, pantothenate, and pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid helps the body metabolize macronutrients.   It also can enhance stamina, and is involved in the production of neurotransmitters. Pantothenic acid may help prevent and treat depression and anxiety and is useful for normal function of the intestinal tract. Pantothenic acid deficiency causes fatigue, nausea, and can cause headaches in people.

Dicalcium Phosphate

Dicalcium phosphate is another term for phosphorus. It is important to maintaining health kidney function, helps muscles contract for motor functions, and combines with other enzymes in the body to aid on bodily functions. Phosphorus also important to the transfer and storage of energy. It is found abundantly in proteins; either in a high quality kibble, a raw diet that is protein rich, or through supplements.

Diatomaceous earth

DE is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. DE acts like tiny pieces of glass on a microscopic level killing fleas, ticks, and other harmful insects and their larvae. It can either be applied topically to your dog’s skin, on carpet and beddings, and even in the garden. Not only can it be used topically, but it can be ingested as a natural dewormer. It is also full of magnesium, silicon, calcium, sodium, and iron.


Methionine is one of the 10-plus essential amino acids that are required by both cats and dogs. DL is the supplement that is added. It is usually added to diets that contain minimal amounts of meat proteins because amino acids are not usually found complete in plant based sources.

Dried Egg

Dried egg product is simply real egg that has been dehydrated. Eggs offer protein, immune-boosting properties, antibacterial qualities, and antioxidants. They also contain many essential vitamins and minerals.

Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product

 Enterococcus Faecium is a stomach bacterium that is used as a probiotic pet foods.  This bacterium is normally found in the digestive systems of many animals including dogs, cats and humans. Probiotics are generally defined as a living organism, often bacteria, which are used to promote digestive and overall health. Enterococcus Faecium (and probiotics generally) are purported to provide several benefits to a pet including aiding digestion and helping to maintain a healthy mix of bacteria in the stomach (which can be helpful when switching diets or after antibiotic treatment).  Probiotics are often used to treat pets with inflammatory digestive diseases, to counteract stress related stomach disorders, and to treat diarrhea.

Ferrous Sulfate

Ferrous sulfate is an iron supplement. It's added to all sorts of things, from human foods and supplements to fertilizers, dyes and processed food for pets, including dogs. Ferrous sulfate is also known as iron sulfate and is commonly called green vitriol because of its bright green color in its natural state.  Iron helps your dog's body produce red blood cells, which are vital for transporting oxygen. Iron is also important for digestion and it strengthens your pup's immune system. While other ingredients in your dog's food, like chicken, beef, lamb or fish, may contain iron, adding ferrous sulfate ensures that your dog gets enough of this important nutrient.

Fish Meal

Fish meal is a fine, dried powdered form of both the fish meat and bone. It is an excellent source of amino acids, fats, and vitamins and minerals. Fish is also a source of omega-3s. Fish meal is much denser than fresh fish. The water content is only around 5-7%, while fresh fish’s content is about 70%. 

Fish Oil

Fish oil is derived from the tissues of oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, black cod, herring, and tuna. Fish oils contains EPA and DHA, both essential fatty acids that contain Pmega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supports healthy, skin, coat, joint, kidney, heart, and immune system.

Flax Seed (Ground/Whole)

Flax seed comes from the plant, flax. It was primarily used in textiles, but the crop’s benefits are now being used in all sorts of foods. It has many health benefits like being high in Omega-3s and fiber. It contains lignans, which improve cardiovascular health. Flax also has anti-inflammatory properties that ease symptoms of arthritis, lower blood pressure, improve kidney function, and help maintain healthy skin and coat.

Flax Seed Oil

Flax seed oil is the product of cold-pressed flax seeds. It has the same health benefits of ground flax seed.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is an essential B vitamin for dogs. It is found naturally in citrus fruits and liver . It plays a role in amino acid and nucleotide metabolism and in mitochondrial protein synthesis.


Fructooligosaccharides are plant sugars that occur in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and cereals. They are produced commercially by partial hydrolysis of chicory inulin (an oligosaccharide found in chicory root), or from sucrose (sugar) using an enzymatic process. It improves the digestibility of various food components and may improve the absorption of dietary calcium, iron, and other minerals. Dogs don’t digest grains, fruits, and vegetables as effectively as humans or herbivores and therefore may not find full benefit from the oligosaccharides contained in the foods they eat. FOS is carried directly to your dog’s large intestine, where it is needed.


Garlic can be added to your dog’s diet. The benefits range from antibacterial properties, flea and worm control, and supporting the digestion and immune system. Raw garlic is the best form to give your dogs and should be fed in moderation.

Gluten Meal

Gluten is what’s left over from certain grains (wheat, barley, rye and other wheat-type cereal grains) that’s had all its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it. The rubbery protein residue that’s left is the gluten. Think of gluten as a plant-based protein concentrate and meat substitute that does not add nutritional value.

Grain Sorghum

Grain sorghum is a cereal grain that grows like corn. It is being used as an alternative to corn and wheat. Dog food containing sorghum provides many health benefits to your beloved companion animals. Not only is it whole grain, gluten-free and high in antioxidants, it is also rich in B1, niacin, iron, zinc, dietary fiber and B2. Using sorghum in pet food does not cause an insulin spike.

Green Lipped Mussel

Green Lipped Mussel is a shellfish found of the coast of New Zealand. They are sustainable and environmentally friendly. They contain a quality source of protein with over 18 amino acids. The Omega-3 concentration is higher than salmon and other fish oils. To read about GLM and all the benefits it can offer, click here.

Green Peas

Green peas are an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber for our canine companions. This protein-rich legume boosts energy levels in dogs and is gentle on the digestive system. High-fiber foods can also help dogs maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol. Peas are packed with vitamins, including A, B1, B6, C, and K. Vitamin K can improve bone health. Peas are also high in lutein, an antioxidant nutrient that supports eye, skin, and heart health.                  

Green Tea

Green Tea is an extremely versatile herbal supplement rich in Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). EGCG is an antioxidant that has been reported to lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of cancer and inhibit blood clots associated with heart disease.


Inositol is a vitamin-like substance that is found in many plants and animals. Because dogs can produce this internally by breaking down sugars their bodies do not need to rely on dietary intake to provide daily requirements. Inositol is not considered an essential dietary vitamin, but it is added to aid in the utilization of glycogen via the oxidation of fats in the body.  Common names for Inositol include Vitamin B-8 Myo-Inositol, and Lipositol.


Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants. Inulins are dietary fibers that are classified and known as fructans.  Chicory is a common source for commercially utilized Inulin. It is somewhat sweet and can be used to increase a food’s sweetness even though it is a relatively low calorie alternative to other fats or sugar and it can be used as a prebiotic to aid digestion. Inulin is a low calorie carbohydrate and fiber source with about 25% less calories than sugar and about 10-12% less calories than fat.  Inulin can increase calcium absorption and can be characterized as a prebiotic, which is a substance that feeds the healthy bacteria in the body’s intestinal system.

Iron Amino Acid Chelate

An amino acid chelate is a mineral that has been combined with an amino acid to create a compound that can be easily absorbed. Iron is an essential mineral that dog’s need, but by itself cannot be fully absorbed. Iron is needed to synthesize blood, form red blood cells and hemoglobin, and for numerous enzyme functions in your dog’s body.

Juniper Berries

While juniper berries do have benefits such as being a source of vitamin C and cobalt, gastrointestinal issues, and digestion problems, juniper is large doses can be toxic to dogs. Make sure to consult with your vet before providing your dog with juniper berries.


Kelp is a form of seaweed that has been used for its rich abundance of iodine to balance thyroid disorder. Kelp is 25% protein and 2% fat and full of bio-available vitamins and minerals such as iron to support circulation. Kelp provides nourishment, boosts the immune system, aids in hormone balance, tissue repair, and aid in digestion. Kelp absorbs minerals from the ocean through the plant tissue versus through root systems.

Krill Oil

Krill oil is made from a small crustacean. It contains astaxanthin, an antioxidant, that aid in elimination of free radical. Krill also supports the health of the liver, ocular, respiratory, cardiovascular functions. Krill oil contains Omega-3 lipids that act as an emulsifier to help your dog absorb minerals.


L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate is a source of vitamin C.


L-carnitine is a B-vitmain source that is needed to supplement poor meat source diets.

L-Lysine Monohydrochloride

L-lysine monohydrochloride is a source of lysine which is an essential amino acid found in meat.

Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Bifidobacterium Bifidium Fermentation Product, Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product

Lactobacillus refers to a group of lactic acid-producing, friendly bacteria that make up many of the 400 normal probiotic species in the human body. Lactobacilli provide many benefits, including the inducing growth factors and increasing the bioavailability of minerals.  It also strengthens and stabilizes the mucous membrane that protects internal organs and decreases intestinal vulnerability.  It reduces undesirable bacteria by producing lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, helping to promote healthy immune function.

Lamb Liver

Lamb liver is a great alternative to chicken and beef. Liver offers vitamin A, B-vitamins, iron, and CoQ10.

Lamb Meal

Lamb Meal is clean young sheep flesh, cooked and dried to remove moisture.  ‘Meal’ ingredients are cooked and dried ingredients. The mealing process preserves the nutrients. Lamb meal provides essential amino acids, minerals (especially calcium and phosphorus) associated with healthy muscle and bone development, and energy. It is a highly digestible protein ingredient, and an excellent alternative protein source for pets that are sensitive to beef or chicken. When you see lamb meal on dog food packaging as the first ingredient you are getting a higher level of nutrients than just lamb.             


Lecithin is a fatty substance found in plants and animals. It is produced naturally in the body. Lecithin is added to dog food as an emulsifier, allowing oils and water to mix and to keep fats from separating. It acts as a preservative and can act as a moisturizer.  It is a source of choline, which is essential to every living cell in the body and is one of the main components of cell membranes.

Lentils/Lentil Fiber

Lentils are legumes- plants that contain edible seeds that are surrounded by a protective outer skin. They are high in fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. Lentils are usually used found in grain free dog foods, which increases the starch level, but reduces the protein. Lentils do offer benefits such as they are a prebiotic starch that ca help aid in the digestive system.

Linseed Meal

Linseed meal is the by-product of extracting the oil from flaxseeds. It is used as a protein supplement and is a good source of selenium.

Manganese Amino Acid Chelate

An amino acid chelate is a mineral that has been combined with an amino acid to create a compound that can be easily absorbed. Manganese is needed to produce energy, metabolize protein and carbohydrates, and to make fatty acids. Manganese is an important part of many enzymes and plays a role in the health and maintenance of bone and cartilage in joints.

Manganese Oxide/Manganese Proteinate/Manganese Sulfate

Manganese is an essential mineral for all animals, needed for bone growth and proper thyroid hormone production. It contains a wealth of antioxidants. Manganese also helps your pets to digest and absorb proteins and carbohydrates, and aids in the activation of enzymes that help your pet utilize the fatty acids in their diet.  Manganese can help slow the aging process.


Meat is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals, poultry, and fish. It refers primarily to the muscle tissue and can be accompanied by fat, sinew, skin, and nerve. It is what you would see for human consumption in the store. When an ingredient label uses a single meat, not meal or by-product, you can assume that it does not make up a good portion of the overall protein content of the dried food. It weighs much more before it has been cooked and extruded due to the moisture content. Meat does not include bone. To use the generic term "meat" on the label, it can only be from cattle, pigs, sheep or goats. If it comes from any other mammal, the species must be identified, so you can rest easy that if any other species was used, it would have to be declared. Also, if the muscle is from non-mammalian species, such as poultry or fish, it cannot be declared as "meat" but must use the appropriate identifying terms.

Meat and Bone Meal

Meat and Bone Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach, and rumen contents. Meat and bone meals (whether animal source specified or not) may have a lower nutritional value. It is not considered a better quality dog food ingredient.

Meat By-Products

Meat by-products are the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs.
Some by-products, like udders and lungs are not deemed "edible" by USDA for human consumption, but they can be perfectly safe and nutritious for animals. When it the label states ‘animal or meat’ and not the specific type of meat it is coming from, it is not a trusted source. It is the lowest quality by-products.

Meat Meal

Meat Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added bone, blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach, and rumen contents. The rendering process is designed to destroy disease-causing bacteria. Meat meals can be of high or low quality. To avoid choosing an inferior product, steer clear of meat meals that include ‘by-products’ and fails to identify the specific source of meat. Meals are a more abundant source of protein than whole meats. Whole meats have a much higher moisture content.

Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex

Menadione is also known as vitamin K3, a synthetic version of vitamin K. Dog’s need very little vitamin K and most of that is produced by the gut bacteria. However vitamin K is needed for the blood to clot.


Millet is a whole grain that is easier to digest than wheat. It is high in phosphorus, B-vitamins, and iron. It is a healthy source of carbohydrates for dogs.

Mixed Tocopherols

Mixed tocopherols are a natural source of vitamin E and used as a preservative to prevent oxidation in food.

Natural Flavor

AAFCO defines natural flavoring as "materials treated with heat, enzymes and/or acids to form concentrated natural flavors." It also insists that any natural ingredient must be obtained from an organic source such as plant or animal material. However, AAFCO does not specifically determine what plant or animal material can be used, opening the door for potentially unhealthy and unsavory ingredients.


Niacin is one of the essential B vitamins, B3. It is naturally found in meat, poultry, and fish. It helps make up enzymes and is needed to help your dog properly metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It is insoluble so your dog’s body does not store the excess and is needed daily for proper functioning.

Oat Fiber/Oat Meal/Oat Groats

Oat Fiber is derived from Oats, a type of cereal grain that is commonly used in livestock feed.  Oat Fiber is often extracted from the outer casing of the oat grain. Oat Fiber provides fiber, which helps move food through the digestive tract slowly, which further helps to optimize the absorption of nutrients.  Oat Fiber can improve stool quality. Oat Fiber contains protein and is rich in vitamins and minerals. Oat Meal contains linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that helps support the health of your dog’s skin and coat.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil is the liquid obtained from cold-pressing olives. It acts as a superfood containing monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents free radical cell oxidation, can help prevent cognitive decline, and improve your dog’s skin/coat.


Parsley is a natural source of Vitamin C, A and K. Vitamin C helps to provide immune support. Vitamin A is important for the development of your pet’s vision and immune health. Parsley is one of the best natural sources of Vitamin K you can give to your pet. Vitamin K helps maintain a healthy blood clotting system and promotes liver health. Parsley is also rich in folic acids and antioxidants. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help promote good kidney health and antimicrobial properties that promote good urinary health.

Peanuts/Peanut Butter

Peanuts are loaded with protein, vitamin B-6, vitamin E, niacin, and healthy fats. However make sure your peanuts are dry or raw and unsalted and that your peanut butter does not contain any added sugar. Feed both in moderation due to their high fat content.

Peas (Whole)

Whole peas are considered a high-quality addition to dog food. Peas provide carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin K, and manganese. They are also a significant source of protein; however animal proteins are preferred due to their essential amino acids. Peas also have a lower glycemic index compared to other vegetables.

Pea Fiber

Pea Fiber is a replacement filler for beet pulp and corn. It is a functional fiber versus a dietary fiber. Used in small amounts can be beneficial, however too much can have an adverse effect on digestion.

Pea Protein

Pea Protein is the by-product on pea processing and is the pure plant-based protein from peas. It is a cost effective way to increase the protein content in food. It is usually found in grain free foods. Just like peas, there is some nutritional value, but not a quality source to base your dog’s food off of due to the inadequate essential amino acids.

Pea Starch

Pea starch is the starch derived from yellow field peas. Pea starch makes up about 40% of peas and when refined is a neutral white powder. It provides a similar nutrition to starchy vegetables like potatoes. It is used as a thickening agent to keep kibble in a uniform shape, but it also has essential nutrients. However, high levels of legumes in dog foods, especially grain free diets, to replace the carbohydrate source, has been linked to DCM.

Potassium                                                                                                             Potassium Chloride is a source of potassium, an essential mineral. It helps your dog maintain their fluid balance and control nerve and muscle functions.


Potatoes should never be fed raw. They contain solanine that can be toxic to dogs. Potatoes have been added to dog food to replaces grains as a carbohydrate source, but they do have a high glycemic index raising blood sugar and insulin levels. Potatoes do provide a source of potassium, which is vital to maintaining healthy blood pressure. Plant-based protein from vegetables does not contain the full range of amino acids needed for the repair, maintenance, and growth.

Potato Protein

Potato Protein is high in protein. It is a by-product in the form of a protein-rich liquid that is derived from Potato processing. This liquid is then processed further by heating the liquid and filtering leaving a protein-rich powder. It is a far cheaper source of protein than higher-quality and more biologically appropriate ingredients like meat or fish. Therefore pet food brands often use Potato Protein, or other similar plant-based protein by-products, to inflate the overall protein level in a dog food formula without splashing out on the more premium ingredients. In addition, the protein contained in potatoes is less digestible to dogs as their digestive systems have evolved to digest animal-based protein.

Potato Starch

Potato Starch is most commonly used as a binding agent in dog foods that do not contain traditional binding agents. In the past starch from grains such as Wheat, Corn or Oats were used as binding agents. But due to the pressure to move away from grains in dog food Potato Starch has been pushed as a viable alternative. However,

Poultry Digest

Poultry digest is a material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed poultry tissue. Poultry digest is a palatability enhancer made by reducing (cooking down) chicken meat and fat into a concentrated liquid or dry product. It refers to the digestive process, not the ingredients or pet’s digestive tract.

Powdered Cellulose

Powdered cellulose is made by cooking raw plant fiber, usually wood, in various chemicals to separate the cellulose, and then purified. It helps stabilize food, lowers fat content, and increases fiber. However this is not an ingredient you want to see on a food label. Unnecessary fillers and excess fibers can interfere with your dog’s ability to digest nutrients.


Pumpkin offers benefits to dog’s urinary health. Digestive system, and treats diarrhea. It can also be a good addition to a dog’s diet who is overweight. It contains a soluble fiber, vitamins A, E, and C, and potassium, and iron. The fiver also acts as a prebiotic. Either feed fresh or canned pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie fillings.

Psyllium Seed Husk

Psyllium Husk is used for its fiber content and cardiovascular benefits. It also contains mucilage, which has emollient properties, to help with digestion. In dogs, it is used as a bulk-forming laxative to treat diarrhea, constipation, and anal gland issues to help your dog express their glands more naturally.

Pyridoxine Hydrochloride

Pyridoxine Hydrochloride is a form of vitamin B6, an essential micronutrient for animals. It is used to support the proper metabolism of protein.         

Red 40

Red 40 us an artificial food dye. It has been tainted with cancer causing contaminants and linked to ADHD, and hyperactivity.

Riboflavin Supplement

Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is a coenzyme responsible for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates into energy. It is also involved in production of red blood cells. It can combine with other minerals to trigger the production of antibodies to fight disease. It can be found in egg yolk, poultry meat, beef, fish, and pork.

Salmon Oil

Salmon Oil is a naturally derived product of salmon. It is rich in Omegas-3 and 6s that support a healthy immune system, heart health, anti-inflammatory, healthy skin and coat, and cognitive function.


Salt is a form of sodium. Sodium maintains the cellular environment and prevents cells from swelling or dehydrating. Sodium is also important for maintaining proper nerve and muscle cell function. Dogs might need a low salt/sodium diet if that have kidney, liver, or heart issues.

Sarsaparilla Root

Sarsaparilla is a detoxifying herb excellent for skin conditions, especially those that are irritated, scaly, or eruptive. It is also an anti-inflammatory good for arthritis and helps to lower fevers and aid kidney function.


Sodium Tripolyphosphate

Sodium Tripolyphosphate is a dental additive, used to reduce calcium build-up. Also known as STPP, sodium tripolyphosphate provides phosphorus that basically replaces calcium in the structure of tartar, causing the tartar to weaken and crumble.

Sorbic Acid

Sorbic acid is a natural preservative that is found in citrus fruits, berries, and stone fruits

Soybean Meal

Soybean meal is a commonly-used plant protein ingredient because of its high nutritional value and consistent supply. Soybean meal contains anti-nutritional components that limit its application in pet food. The most important anti-nutritional factors are antigens, trypsin inhibitor activity, oligosaccharides and lectins. Soy antigens can generate antibody production in the bloodstream, initiate inflammatory reaction, damage intestinal surface, reduce the absorption of nutrients and negatively impact the welfare of animals.

Spelt Flour

Spelt flour is an ancient whole grain. Spelt provides carbohydrates, fats, and antioxidants.


Spirulina is over 60% protein and has a high concentration of beta carotene, vitamin B-12 iron, trace minerals and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid). It also contains number of unique phytonutrients like phycocyanin, polysaccharides, and sulfolipids that enhance the immune system, possibly reduce the risk of infection, cancer and autoimmune disease. It is rich in natural carotenoid antioxidants that promote cellular health and reduce the risk of cancer. It has cleansing chlorophyll which helps detoxify the body of pollution.

Sunflower (Meal, Oil, Ground)

Sunflower supplies your dog with antioxidants and copper. Sunflower is rich in omega-6s, which is an essential fatty acid that helps stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain the reproductive system, and promote a health immune system.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates and contain potassium and B vitamins. They also provide phytonutrients and carotenoid antioxidants which gives them their orange color. Antioxidants help provide protection against potentially cancer-causing free radicals.

Tapioca Starch

Tapioca is a starchy vegetable, extracted from the root of the Cassava plant. It is present in dog food as a source of carbohydrates and a binding agent. It is usually used in place of grains, peas, and potatoes. It does not contains many vitamins, but is a good source of iron, manganese, and calcium. However, the glycemic index is high.


Taurine is an amino acid associated with growth, eye health and cardiac health. It’s essential in the diet of cats as cats cannot produce taurine the way dogs and humans can. Recent studies have shown that extra taurine is imperative for cardiovascular health in dogs, especially in large and giant breeds. It can be found in hearts.

Thiamine Mononitrate

Thiamine mononitrate is a synthetic stable nitrate salt form of vitamin B1. It is found in grains, yeast, and animal organ meats. It is needed to help your dog metabolize energy.

Tomato Pomace

Tomato Pomace is the dried pulp of tomatoes after the juice has been removed. Tomato pomace provides a very good blend of soluble and insoluble fiber types. When added to a pet food these fibers provide food for the good bacteria and help maintain a consistent stool quality.


Turmeric is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and liver protecting herb that helps to lower blood sugar, increase digestion and circulation, and regulate and balance hormones. Turmeric also inhibits cancer and tumor growth.

Valerian Root

Valerian Root potent herb used to calm nerves, decrease anxiety and aggression, and to relieve tension, restlessness, and pain. Valerian has also been used to alleviate separation anxiety and help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in epileptic animals.

Vegetable Glycerin

Vegetable glycerin is used as a binder and sweetener. It does not offer any nutritional benefits, but is generally considered safe.

Vitamin A Supplement

Vitamin A is needed for good vision, growth, fetal development, immune function, and cell function. It is added to commercial dog food to ensure your dog receives adequate amount.

Vitamin B-12 Supplement

Vitamin B-12 promotes a healthy nervous system and is involved directly in the production of myelin, a protective tissue that coats the nerves in the brain. It is necessary to prevent diseases such as exocrine pancreatic deficiency.

Vitamin D3 Supplement

Vitamin D plays a role in calcium and phosphorus regulation and prevents osteoporosis. Dogs, unlike humans, cannot get the adequate amount of vitamin D from the sun because of their coats.

Vitamin E Supplement

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin required in pet diets. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which helps to maintain health by protecting the body’s tissues from free radical damage. Free radicals are damaged cells that contribute to diseases and ailments. Vitamin E is also used as a natural preservative in the form of mixed tocopherols.

Yellow 6

Yellow 6 has been reported to cause allergies and is linked to hyperactivity in children. Some studies have shown that it has caused adrenal gland and kidney tumors in animals. It is also linked to skin issues, asthma, and chromosomal damage.

Yucca Schidigera Extract

Yucca can be added to pet food as an extract, where the plant is shredded, dried and ground. It might also be added as a juice from the leaves. Yucca is primarily added to pet food to help reduce the odor of their waste.