Mabel the Rescue Dog

Encourage Dog Lovers to Adopt 💕

3.5 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)

When it comes to choosing a good dog food, it comes down to the quality of the ingredients. Ingredients in dog food should be real, beneficial items, but many kibble brands choose to put unnecessary fillers in it instead. So, how do you locate these “controversial” items?

If Molly is ever uncertain about a dog food’s quality, she often researches them on Dog Food Advisor. They give detailed descriptions about the individual ingredients in each dog food, and they can alert you about which ones are controversial and which ones are healthy.

If an ingredient is controversial, it’s marked with red text. Ideally, the perfect dog food should have no red ingredients. These red ingredients aren’t always bad, but they’re not usually good either. So, it’s better to find high quality items rather than ones you’re unsure of. Oftentimes, these ingredients are by-products and fillers.

Controversial Dog Food Ingredients

Here is a list of some “controversial” ingredients, along with why humans try to avoid them.

Blood Meal

Blood meal sounds gross enough to begin with. It’s high in protein, but it’s a by-product of slaughter. It’s often used to make animal feeds. Needless to say, there are much better protein sources out there.

Brewers Rice

Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product that is often listed high in vet-recommended foods like Hill’s. It has very little nutritional value for your dog.


Carrageenan is a gelatin-like ingredient extracted from seaweed. It’s a thickening agent that has been used for many years, but humans are often worried about its biological safety.

Chicken By-Product Meal

This one is the most obvious ingredient to avoid. It’s a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It might contain a lot of protein, but I won’t even tell you what animal parts it’s made of. I know they’ll gross most humans out. Your dog deserves real meat instead.

Dried Beet Pulp

A lot of dog foods use beet pulp, which is a by-product of sugar beet processing. It’s high in fiber, but is otherwise considered a filler ingredient.

Meat and Bone Meal

Not only is this item difficult to digest, but it’s also vague. It doesn’t tell you specifically what meat is used, which is concerning. Any time a protein ingredient doesn’t list a specific meat, such a “poultry meal” instead of chicken meal or turkey meal, you should avoid it. You should only feed your dog ingredients that you feel comfortable with, and it’s hard to feel comfortable with something when you don’t even know what it is.

Tomato Pomace

This ingredient is used frequently, even in higher quality kibble brands. It’s a by-product of processing tomatoes for soup, ketchup, and juice. In other words, it’s an inexpensive filler item.

Whole Grain Wheat/Corn

Wheat has very little nutritional benefits for dogs, yet it’s often listed high on ingredient lists. The same is true for corn too.

Why Should These Ingredients Be Avoided?

These are just a few of the many dog food ingredients that could be “controversial.” Obviously, some are much worse than others, but your dog doesn’t need any of them in their diet.

So, you should try to find a dog food that doesn’t have any of these ingredients if possible. Less filler ingredients means more room for healthy beneficial items. Companies who use higher quality items seem to care more about the health of their canine customers, which is how it should be.

If your food includes one or two of these ingredients, especially if it’s just something minor like tomato pomace, that doesn’t automatically make it bad. They’re just something to keep an eye out for. Foods with multiple controversial items toward the top of the ingredient list are troublesome. So, pay close attention to a food’s quality before serving it to your dog.

Fresh food, wet food, and raw food are often healthier for dogs, but they’re also more expensive. It’s up to you to decide what the best quality food for your budget is. If you’re ever unsure of a dog food’s quality, check out its review on Dog Food Advisor.

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