Do you know what’s in your pet’s food?

No, like really know? 

Have you read the ingredient list and thought I’m not really sure what that is, but why would they put something in the food that doesn’t help my pet’s health? 

The more I learn about pet food and what these companies can get away with, the more upset I get. 

This is why we focus heavily on food and how it impacts your pet’s health. 

Food is medicine and the foundation for health.

When we feed our pets poor-quality food, their chance of developing disease and cancer increases tremendously. 

Your pets now have a 1 in 2 risk of developing cancer. 

There are great companies who genuinely care, and then there are companies that are great at marketing to draw pet parents in but make food with cheap ingredients that harm your pet’s health over the longterm.  

How to Read Pet Food Labels

Grab your pet’s canned food and dry food and turn around the bag to check out the ingredient list to follow along.

Looking at this ingredient list, would you feed this to your puppy?

Do you think these ingredients lead to optimal health?

Let’s discuss a few things that stand out that we haven’t discussed in our previous blog pet food posts.

Are there artificial flavors?

The first ingredient to look for is “natural flavor” or it may be listed as “natural chicken flavor”. Also, look for “animal or chicken fat.”

These ingredients are used to enhance the taste of the food. 

Most animals will NOT eat the cat and dog kibble when it is first extruded from the machine. 

The companies have to spray flavoring onto the kibble to make it tasty again. 

However, companies are allowed to consider these natural flavors proprietary, meaning they are not required to disclose what is used to make the flavoring or how it’s made (ie what chemicals are used).

If your pet experiences food allergies, itchy skin, or inflammation in general, we have no idea the source and the quality of the source this flavoring comes from.

It could be a combination of beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and who knows what else.  Not what you want if your dog or cat has a food sensitivity.

Are there unnamed proteins?  

The second ingredient to look for is unnamed proteins, like “meat meal”, “animal” or “poultry” products

These types of protein indicate the cheapest and lowest quality source. 

Many of the higher grade pet foods don’t use these anymore, but it’s important to look for. 

Animal grade meats are the meats that were discarded from the human side, because they were not high enough quality, meaning the meats were diseased, had cancerous growths, or were in general poor quality meats. 

Not what you want to be feeding your pet. 

One of the most common reasons pet foods are recalled is due to pentobarbital.  

This is the drug that’s used to euthanize pets.  You definitely don’t want this in your pet’s food.

Check for artificial colors and preservatives. 

Finally, are there any artificial colors or preservatives listed? 

Preservatives are necessary to extend the shelf-life of foods and slow down oxidative changes and fats going rancid. 

Bad preservatives you want to look for include: 

  • Ethoxyquin – This is a pesticide and has been linked to cancer.  Unfortunately, ethoxyquin is sometimes used in some meal products so it can be hidden from the ingredient list.

  • Propylene glycol – This is an ingredient used in anti-freeze.

  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – Both of these chemicals potentially cause cancer.

  • Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) – This is a form of butane used to make varnish and resins. This causes neurological disorders, contact dermatitis and can predisposed your pet to cancer.

  • Sodium Metabisulphite – This is a bleaching agent.

Foods should be using natural preservatives, however, the food doesn’t last as long on the shelf. 

Here are some natural preservatives you’ll want to see in your pet’s food instead:

  • Mixed tocopherols (vitamin E)

  • Forms of vitamin C (like ascorbic acid)

  • Rosemary

  • Sage

  • Clove

There are many little things that add up in pet foods to serious health implications over the long-term for your pets. 

By increasing your knowledge about what’s going into your pet’s bodies through food, you can help them live a longer and healthier life. 

60% of pets will develop cancer, but you can help change that by questioning if the foods on the market are the best for your pet, and learn how to pick the best pet food

Together we will create the change needed for our precious pets!

To learn more about pet nutrition and what may be hiding in your pet’s food, head here: Do You Know What’s in Your Pet’s Food?


1. Grab your FREE PDF on the Top 5 Ways to Optimize Your Pet’s Health!

Sign up for your free guide to receive simple steps that you can implement today to help your pet achieve optimal health and reduce the risk of disease. Happier pets and fewer vet bills! Click here to get your guide!

2. Join our 21-Day Gut Health Challenge for even more help!

Your dog’s gut health is more important than ever to make sure they stay happy and healthy.  If you want to learn even more on how to help your dogs feel their best, make sure to check out our guided challenge to give you the tools and education you need to optimize your dog’s gut health now.  Learn more about gut health here!

*Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. The information contained in is strictly for educational purposes. Therefore, if you wish to apply ideas contained in, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. Please consult your veterinarian for medical advice for your own pets. Dr. Katie Woodley cannot answer specific questions about your pet’s medical issues or make medical recommendations for your pet without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

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