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Some dog food manufacturers are more careful and responsible about the ingredients they use in their product than others. Unfortunately, one way you can determine which companies are using quality products and which ones aren't is by the price. Generally, the higher the price, the better the quality of food.
Low-Quality, Off-Brand Dog Foods vs. High-Quality, Brand-Name Foods
A number of companies sell dog food under a variety of brand names you probably never heard of. There's a reason dog-food commercials tout certain brands while other brands fly under the radar. It all boils down to money. The better companies, the ones with the higher sales records, have the money for marketing, promotions and commercials. They have the money because, in general, they are putting out a product that is demanded by the public because it's a good product. You've heard of the big brand names in dog food. There is a difference among those dog foods, the off-brands and the much higher-priced, somewhat-elusive brands sold only at high-end dog supply stores.
At the Low End
Some dog food manufacturers use what is known as "Four-D Meat." Four-D refers to dead, diseased, disabled or dying. It correlates to the state of being the animal is in just prior to slaughter. The problem with this process is that nobody is asking why an animal is dead prior to slaughter. There are no checkpoints to determine what diseases a diseased animal may have. A disabled animal could very well be disabled due to an infection, cancer or a fight, which would result in putrefied sores and oozing of pus. A dying animal is not checked by any vet to determine if the animal is dying from cross-species diseases that can be passed to dogs who consume this meat. Furthermore, as disdainful as Americans find the practice, it is perfectly legal to include dead zoo animals, road kill and euthanized cats and dogs, as well as horses, in with the Four-D meats.
Mainstream Dog Foods
The high-quality, brand-name dog food companies deny using Four-D meats or the slaughtered remains of pets, horses or zoo animals. Many of them use corn as the first ingredient; it's cheap and affords a little nutrition. Then there's poultry byproduct meal. This is slaughterhouse cast-off of parts you wouldn't want to eat, such as chicken feet and beaks, undeveloped eggs and organs. Also, there's gluten, which is essentially a filler. Next is animal fat. The exact animal is not specified, and it could come from discarded restaurant grease and slaughterhouse waste.. Other ingredients typically include wheat, soybeans, artificial coloring and flavoring, and animal and bonemeal, made from the animal's tissue and bone.
Top O' The Line
The higher-priced dog foods such as Blue Buffalo, Taste of the Wild and Solid Gold do not use filler or suspicious meats in their products. The first ingredient is always an animal you recognize such as duck, bison, salmon, chicken, beef and pork. Other ingredients are wholesome, nutritious elements added to make a balanced diet. These ingredients include barley, brown rice, chicken or fish fat, and vegetables like potatoes and yams. There are also vegetarian dog food companies that put out a quality product using plant-based materials high in protein.