Pet Food in Grocery Stores: How Healthy Is It?

Adult cat sitting on numerous grocery store shopping carts

Your pets are a part of your family. Of course, you want what is best for them. The generic pet food you can pop in your cart when shopping is convenient and usually cheaper than food you could buy at the pet store. But, is your dog getting a good deal? Should convenience trump quality when purchasing food for your furry friends?

Why is reading pet food labels important?

Feeding your four-legged friend a good quality, well-balanced diet is an essential part of providing a good quality of life for them. If your pet is healthy from the inside, they will lead a happier and more enjoyable life. If you take the time to read the labels, you will usually find supermarket pet foods lacking nutritional value. With some exceptions, pet food products available in grocery stores are attractive because they are convenient and usually less expensive than buying from a specialist pet store. 

Woman reading pet food labels in grocery store

What pet food ingredients to look out for:

Not all pet food ingredients are created equal. Some provide very little nutritional value while others simply act as fillers and preservatives. Let's look at some pet food ingredients that may cause concern.

  • Meat is an essential component of your canine's diet. However, there are certain meat products that you should avoid. Meat meals and unspecified meat products may contain poor quality meat from questionable sources. If you choose a pet food listing meat meal as an ingredient, ensure that the type of meat is specified (i.e., chicken, beef, turkey).
  • Like meat meal, rendered fat may come from dubious sources. In addition, poor-quality animal fats may contain many toxins. Animal fat, in moderation, is good for our pets. However, you want to select pet food with a clean, healthy source of fat. Look for named fats such as chicken fat, coconut oil, pork fat, or beef fat in the ingredients list.
  • Preservatives are necessary to give a food a reasonable shelf-life. Artificial preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and ethoxyquin are very harmful in the long run. Sodium nitrite is another preservative that you want to avoid. Opt for natural preservatives such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), tocopherols (vitamin E), and rosemary.
  • Many pet food manufacturers make use of corn or peas. They might sound like healthy items to include in an ingredients list. However, the proteins contained in these items are not as bioavailable as those in animal protein sources. Choose pet food where corn or peas are not too high up on the ingredients list.
  • Fillers such as white flour, corn syrup, and cornmeal have little to no nutritional value for your pet. Instead opt for filler ingredients such as whole grains, brown rice, or sweet potato.
  • Artificial food coloring is there for the pet parents, not for the pets! It is unnecessary and can be harmful.

The importance of good pet nutrition

Adult Dog refusing to eat gross kibble food

Dogs and cats are carnivores. Therefore, meat should always be the first item on the ingredients list. Supermarket pet foods are often bulked up with cereals, grains, or carbohydrate-rich vegetables like potatoes to keep prices down. These items may not be harmful, but they should not make up the bulk of their diet. 

Low-quality foods might be more affordable in the short term. However, they can lead to nutrient deficiencies and sub-optimal health. This, in turn, could lead to extra trips to the veterinarian and pricey vet bills.

Take the time to read pet food labels

Each pet is unique and will require different combinations of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Pets that struggle to maintain a healthy weight should consume a diet with a lower carbohydrate component. However, active pets will require a different balance of macronutrients. 

Hip dysplasia and joint mobility issues are commonplace with large breed dogs. Foods supplemented with vitamins and minerals to support their condition will help them lead a happier and more comfortable life. In addition, micronutrients such as iodine can aid pets with hypothyroidism.

Quality Food = Quality Life

Make an extra stop and visit Pets-on-Broadway for the best quality pet food. Our in-store experts can help you to interpret your pet food labels and give great advice about the ideal food for your four-legged friend. Unlike grocery store clerks, we can answer in depth questions about pet food nutrition. 

At Pets-on-Broadway, the focus is on educating customers to make informed choices about the products that they buy for the well-being of their pets. So, please visit us online or at our store, 2762 NE Broadway, and ask for guidance on making the best selection for your furry friend.

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