If you go to your local pet store and pick one of the cheapest brands off the shelf, the chances are good that you will be choosing a 2-star (or even a 1-star) dog food. Many dog owners do not realize that all dog foods are not created equal – quality varies greatly from one brand to another, and even with different recipes from the same brand. It is important to realize that your dog’s health and wellness is closely linked to the quality of his diet, so before you buy an inexpensive dog food, take the time to learn about the consequences of this choice and reconsider buying a higher quality product.
What Goes Into a 2-Star Dog Food Brand?
The main thing that defines the difference between a 2-star dog food and a dog food of higher quality is the amount of plant-based ingredients used in the formula. Many 2-star dog foods list a carbohydrate as the number-1 ingredient instead of a source of animal protein and it is important that you understand why this is a problem. Dogs are primarily carnivorous animals which means that they have a limited ability to digest plant products. Animal-based ingredients are more biologically valuable for dogs which means that they should provide the majority of the dog’s nutrition. If you see a plant product listed first on the ingredients list for a dog food product, it is violating the number-1 rule of dog nutrition. As an example, consider that many 2-star dog foods like ground yellow corn or corn gluten meal as their top ingredient. This ingredient may contain up to 60% protein, but it is plant protein and corn in general is very hard for dogs to digest.
Not only do many 2-star dog foods start with a plant-based ingredient, but they are usually very carb-heavy in general. These recipes rely heavily on low-quality fillers like corn, wheat, and soy ingredients because they add bulk to the product but are still very inexpensive for the manufacturer. Low-quality dog foods may still list fresh meats or meat meals on their ingredients list, but the frequently occur further down the list which means that they may not be present in any significant amount. It is more common to see by-products and unnamed proteins in 2-star dog foods – ingredients that vary greatly in quality from one batch to another so you really don’t know what your dog is eating.
Another problem with many 2-star dog foods is that they are low in healthy fats. The Merck Veterinary Manual suggests that adult dogs have a minimum requirement for 5% protein in their diet and puppies require at least 8%. These are bare minimums, however, but many 2-star dog foods don’t go much higher than 10% to 12% for fat content – this can be a problem for puppies and smaller dogs who have very fast metabolisms. These dogs need extra fat in their diet to provide their bodies with a concentrated source of energy. Not only do many 2-star dog foods skimp on the fat, but the fats they use typically come from plant sources like canola oil, soybean oil, or other plant oils. You may also see ingredients like beef tallow which is a byproduct of the beef rendering process and is high in saturated fats, but not the kind that is good for your dog.
In addition to being carb-heavy and low in protein and healthy fats, many 2-star dog foods also make heavy use of artificial additives and synthetic supplements. Because low-quality dog foods are usually produced using the extrusion process, a significant amount of the natural nutritional value in the raw ingredients is lost during cooking – the manufacturer must then add the nutrients back using synthetic supplements. Even if these supplements round out the nutritional balance for the product, your dog will be unable to absorb and utilize the majority of those nutrients because they are not natural. It is also very common for 2-star dog food manufacturers to use artificial colors in their products to make them more appealing to consumers and artificial flavors to make them more palatable for dogs. They also frequently include artificial preservatives.
List of 2-Star Dog Foods
If you are feeding your dog a 2-star dog food, you need to seriously reconsider. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your dog’s nutritional needs are met in the best way possible. While it is entirely possible to create a nutritionally balanced dog food product using low-quality ingredients, this type of dog food could actually contribute to health problems, particularly with your dog’s digestion. To give you an idea what kind of dog food brands offer 2-star quality, consult the list below:
- Beneful Review
- Cesar Review
- Eukanuba Review
- Hill Science Diet Review
- Iams Review
- Red Flannel
- Royal Canin Review
There is nothing wrong with following a budget, but you need to be careful and make sure that your budgetary restraints don’t compromise the quality of your dog’s nutrition. A high-quality diet is absolutely essential for keeping your dog in good health for as long as possible. If you are feeding your dog a 2-star dog food product, you need to think carefully about finding a way to make an upgrade. Even spending just a few more dollars for a 3-star dog food could make a big difference for your dog.