Choosing Less-Processed Dog Foods

dogfood-bowlDo you sometimes grab a bag of dog food–like grabbing a burger for yourself–just because it’s easy? Today’s tip, the first in a series of weekly canine nutritional tips from expert Tracie Hotcher, looks at the price we pay for that dog food convenience:

Dry dog food in a bag is a “convenience food” that is representative of how we used to feed our children and ourselves before we discovered the downside of eating too much fast food. For ourselves, we have learned the dangers of eating pre-fab meals that are so full of chemicals that they can sit on a shelf for a year. Many of us have realized there is “no free lunch” and you pay too high a price with your health for eating highly processed foods – especially the carbohydrate-heavy ones and those dependent on corn. The highly praised documentary FOOD, INC. described the pervasive presence of corn in our food supply and habits and the need to reduce it. Most dog kibble that is not super premium is basically a corn-based food – more suitable for quick fattening of feedlot animals for the human food supply.

We’re all coming around to understanding that it’s worth the extra time and money to prepare real, whole foods in as natural a state as possible. The body can extract more nutritional benefit from fresh real ingredients (it’s called being “bio-available”). Where human nutrition is concerned we have been evolving in our understanding that there is a health price to pay for eating highly processed carbohydrates with chemicals, preservatives, synthetic colors and flavors, and ingredients we cannot even pronounce on the packaging. The same holds true for our dogs: the less-processed the food, the higher its food value and health benefits.

thThis Canine Nutrition Tip is from Tracie Hotchner, author of The Dog Bible and award-winning host of Dog Talk® on NPR station WLIU.  Canine Nutrition Tips are sponsored by Proportions, the whole food custom nutrition program for your dog. Visit to get a custom 2-meal trial for your dog, or to learn more about canine nutrition from the full Canine Nutrition University classes written by Tracie.

Author photo courtesy; photo © Ling Li

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About Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter is the founder and co-publisher of LT Media Group LLC. Along with her husband, John Bigley, she edits,, and has authored over 30 books on pets and travel.

  • This piece raises some great points about pet nutrition: Nutrition from whole foods, not chemicals, is best; high protein diets do most closely match what carnivorous dogs and cats have eaten for eons in the wild. However, not all dry pet food can fairly be compared to human junk food. Nature’s Logic makes the only full-line commercial dog food with nutrition from 100% natural ingredients. There are no chemically-synthesized vitamins, minerals, preservatives or other man-made ingredients in any of the forms, even in the bags of dry kibble. Convenient can be healthy, but pet parents do have to choose carefully among the many options available.