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Unhealthy Dog Food Ingredients Fooling Us? Misleading Dog Food Labels

Bites dog food
Never judge a package by its cover.
Inside the container, there may be none, or extremely little, of the food shown in the outside photo.
Ask Frank Lucido, Californian, owner of 3 dogs:
All three fell ill from the Purina Beneful food (which led to a lawsuit against Purina).
Surely the little pups did not show the “healthy smile” that the food packaging speaks of.
Unhealthy Mastiff food

Unhealthy Dog Food Ingredients For Your Tibetan Mastiff

Believing you are buying “superfoods”, “vet recommended”, or “breed specific”? Really? 
Imagine that you grab a pet food package and carefully look at it.
It is your favorite pet food. The large, colorful letters speak of delicious ingredients. You recognize the brand name, and it makes you feel safe.
Now turn the package and read the ingredient list. Slowly.
It is an endless list, don’t you think? Do you believe that a long list like that is healthy for your dog?
But then you say “hey! I can read things like salmon, trout, sweet potato, beef, lamb, and even kale and quinoa. Isn’t that healthy?!”
Do you believe what you see? Do you believe that the major pet food producers, out of the goodness of their hearts, “show you the truth and only the truth”?
I hope not.
How can they name ingredients that are not truly there?
Is that even legal?
According to the regulations governing pet food packaging, the said answer is YES.
They are allowed to mislead you.
In the USA, packaging designers have legal ways to take advantage of your trust.
Let’s see how they do it:

Misleading Dog Food Labels

The sneaky term “with”:

Certified Food Therapy Veterinarian, Dr. Judy Morgan, explains this term on the packaging:

When the word “with” is used, it means the food contains no less than 3% of the named ingredient.
Example: If the package says “Dog Food With Salmon” it would be no less than 3% salmon.
3% salmon. Wow!
Perhaps you thought you fed your dog salmon? Actually you may have fed 97% of things not being salmon.

Another tricky word: "flavor"

At least, this one sounds a little more honest: “Chicken flavor” doesn’t mean there is actually any chicken in it.
That’s right. It’s not a lie! But may mean something nasty.
A “flavor” may be a food ingredient or even a chemical added to the food product to give it some specific flavor.
But the label says “natural flavor”? It means that the flavor is achieved in natural ways, right? Again, not quite.

The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), which governs the definition of ingredients in dog food, states that “natural flavoring is actually a set of natural ingredients treated with heat, enzymes and acids.”

Those ingredients must be obtained from plants or animals, but there’s no restriction on what plant or animal material can be used.
In other words, manufacturers can do pretty much anything with the “natural flavor”. And it may end up being something highly unnatural.
Those ingredients must be obtained from plants or animals, but there’s no restriction on what plant or animal material can be used.
Also, according to AAFCO, “Animal digest” can act as a “natural flavoring”. This means that stomach contents and even water from boiled waste products can be used to flavor dog food.
The bottom line is, pet food manufacturers are allowed to get their raw materials from a variety of resources, like human food leftover plants, leftovers from slaughterhouses, or even rendering facilities.
None of that is stated on the label you read.

High Cuisine and Gourmet Buzzwords

On dog food packages, you will also find seductive descriptions of dishes prepared with care. Just like the descriptions on the menu of your favorite restaurant.
But words like dinner, entree, plate and recipe have a different meaning to labeling regulators than the one you or I usually give them.
The use of any of those words implies that the food must contain 25% of the associated ingredient.
For example, “chicken dinner” states that the food must contain 25% chicken.
How would you feel if you order a chicken dinner at your favorite restaurant and find out that only ¼ of the plate is real chicken?
Not as bad as if you order something “with chicken” and – as we mentioned before – you find out that only 3% of the food on your plate is chicken.
But I believe you would still feel cheated?
unhealthy dog food ingredients for Mastiffs

When Your Dog Food Package Says "Complete And Balanced Nutrition"

Those sound like safe, assuring words when you seek quality food for your dog.
The AAFCO knows this and states that a “complete and balanced” pet food claim on a package must be justified for nutritional suitability.
So, any dog food labeled as “complete and balanced” should be OK for my dog, right?
No. Let me explain why.
The term “complete and balanced” on a dog food label implies that the ingredients used to manufacture the food provide all the necessary nutrients for a healthy dog’s diet.

But again, what the packaging implies doesn’t always correlate with facts:

The nutritional content of a food must be provided in a form that your dog’s digestive system can actually process.
Otherwise, even if necessary nutrients are present in the food, they will be naturally eliminated by your dog’s body.
Most of the dog food brands that are labeled as “complete and balanced” contain far less physically absorbable nutrients than necessary.
This diminishes your pet’s potential to stay healthy, caused by lack of nutrition.
Healthy Puppy Bites dog food

What about the pictures on pet dog food packages?

As you know, pictures have great power to deliver a message to a potential buyer. Way more powerful than words.
Now, do you actually read the text on product labels when you go to the supermarket, or do you decide what to buy just by looking at the packaging?

Healthy Dog Food Ingredients?

I hope you also read the text, because…
…most of the time, you make purchasing decisions subconsciously. Did you know that?
You are guided only by how nice a product package looks (that’s statistically proven and easy to measure).

In as early as 1896, you saw Uneeda Biscuit Company selling biscuits with a colorful illustration of a boy in a bright yellow raincoat.

That sold over 40 million of those biscuit packages each year at that time.
Coca Cola became popular not because of what it had to offer, but because of the shape of its bottle.

Take Tide Pods; when they were launched in 2012, it took the market by storm, primarily because of its colorful and innovative design.

Misleading Food Labels for giant dogs

Tibetan Mastiff Owners Getting Fooled By Dog Food Packages?

Over 7 out of 10 consumers agree that packaging influences their purchase decision. Various studies point to that one simple fact – colorful and beautiful packaging helps create a ‘positive’ buying experience.

Are you different? Let’s find out:

Let’s say you are browsing supermarket shelves, seeking something to feed your dog. You’re hungry and in a rush.
Suddenly, you see a picture of a filet mignon, surrounded by broccoli, potatoes, and peas on a dog food bag.
You know the bag contains kibble. You know it’s for your dog. But the picture is so compelling it makes you even more hungry.
The package triggers your body to believe that it contains all the elements of a delicious and healthy dish. And you buy it.

The only limitation for the use of images on dog food packaging is that the producer must not misrepresent the product entirely.

Exactly what does that mean?
It means this: If a dog food product contains beef – even if it’s only 3% – there’s nothing illegal about picturing a $100 premium-meat dish on the bag that makes your mouth watering with saliva.
If the entire package of dog foods contains just a few grams of blueberry, the package can legally display dozen of gorgeous blueberries, for the delight of your eyes.

Pet Food Packages Do Not Tell The Truth

Now you clearly see that the packages do not honestly represent the content. Far from.
Perhaps you also get this: Dog food packaging is not really ‘designed by veterinarians’ (as they may claim) or even be people concerned about you dog’s health.
Dog food packaging is designed with one key purpose in mind: To do whatever it takes to make you buy the product.
They win awards for doing that.
The “best” dog food package – from a marketing point of view – is the one that best compels dog owners.
Don’t let them fool you.
Be mindful’ when shopping or preparing food for your beloved pet companion.
Be sure’ about what is best for your dog or puppy. Read! Read all the labels, especially the small print.
Read everything and think until you fully understand what really is inside.
If in doubt, ask your trusted veterinarian, preferably one that doesn’t sell commercial dog food.

Or perhaps even better, read the Petsumer Report (petsumerreport.com) to find out exactly what ingredients is in your dog food.