The amount of meat, originally used in dry dog food, has been greatly reduced over the last decade and has been replaced with cheap and potentially harmful cereal and grain products by many lower quality dog food companies. Nutritionally, how each individual dog processes the nutrients that are in these products greatly depends on how easy to digest each of the particular grains may be.
The actual amount of nutrients your dog may get specifically depends on what the amount and type of filler in the brand you are feeding a dog. Dogs can usually absorb almost all of the carbohydrates in certain grains, such as white rice, but cannot digest many of the others like peanut shells.
As much as twenty percent of the nutritional value of other grains, such as oats, beans and wheat can be poor or lost completely. The nutritional value of corn and potatoes is also much less than that of rice. And some other ingredients used as filler in dry dog food such as, peanut shells, cotton hulls, feathers, etc. have absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever, and are only used to hold the dry dog food nuggets together or just to make your dog feel full! These fillers can be harmful to your dog and yet, there are many unscrupulous manufacturers who use them, anyway.
Because grain is necessary to hold the nuggets of dry dog food together, it needs to equal at least fifty percent of the total ingredients. If you are feeding a dog these foods every day, you could be giving him or her a hundred percent more grain than canines normally eat in the wild or that they actually need.
If you check the labels on cheap dry dog food bags, you’ll find two of the top three ingredients listed are usually some kind of grain product… ground corn, corn gluten meal, brewers rice, beet pulp, feathers and cotton hulls are some of the most frequently used. Why? Because these are much less expensive, “cheaper” ingredients than meat.
There was a huge recall by Nature’s Recipe in 1995 (they pulled thousands of tons of dry dog food off of the shelves) which caused them to lose approximately twenty million dollars. This all came about when consumers that complained their dogs were vomiting and had loss of appetite. A fungus that produced vomitoxin (a toxic substance produced by mold) was found to have contaminated the wheat in that brand.
Although it causes vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, etc., vomitoxin is milder than most toxins. The more dangerous toxins can cause weight loss, liver damage, lameness, and even death, as seen in the Doane case. What happened next should give all dog care givers cause to pause and wonder what’s happening with our so called “Watch Dogs” in the government agencies.
Then again, in 1999, another fungal toxin was found that killed 25 dogs. This caused the recall of dry dog food made by Doane Pet Care (maker of O’l Roy, Walmart’s brand, plus 53 other brands).
The incident with Nature’s Recipe prompted the FDA to get involved out of concern, but for only the human population and not the more than 250 dogs who got sick. It was concluded that the discovery of vomitoxin in Nature’s Recipe wasn’t much of a threat to the “human” population because “the grain that would go into pet food is not a high quality grain”. What! So does that mean manufacturers have a green light to poison our dogs with poor quality or contaminated ingredients?
Dog food manufacturers also use soy as a protein for energy and to add bulk to the food so that when a dog eats a product containing soy it will feel more satisfied. Some dogs do well with soy while others experience gas. Soy is also used as a source of protein in vegetarian dog foods.
And now for corn… did you know corn kills dogs? Most of the dry brands on store shelves is loaded with corn, a cheap filler. This is not the same corn humans eat, it’s feed grade corn (the kind fed to cattle), or cheap feed corn remnants. Even corn meal dust swept up from the mill factory floor, counts as “corn” to be used in our dog’s food. This same corn may even have been condemned for human consumption, but there are no limits to the amount pesticide contamination set for our pets’ foods.