Choosing a good pet food can make a real difference to the health and happiness of your pet.
Mr Pets' Gold Paw Approved foods are foods and treats that are of a high quality, containing only the finest ingredients for your companion animal. Gold Paw Approved foods allow you to feed your pet the very best and save money by doing so.
Our specially trained team members possess animal nutrition related diplomas and undergo regular brand specific nutrition training, and are loving pet owners themselves. They look carefully into the ingredients of each Gold Paw Nutrition Food that we endorse, ingredients are analysed from the largest piece of kibble down to the smallest molecule!
To find out more about our Gold Paw
our detailed explantion of what to look for in your pet's food, read our Gold Paw Nutrition Glossary.
Animal products can be a great source of protein for Cats & Dogs, but it is important to know the best sources among the rest! Read about our Gold Paw Nutrition Initiative here!
Fish and Fish Derivatives – This term can relate to any part of the fish, this does not necessarily mean that the product is low grade, however it does mean that the exact ingredients/parts of the fish are unknown. Many producers of pet foods will use this term as they don’t have a fixed formula.
Fish Meal – Highly palatable and easily digested by dogs, excellent source of high quality protein. Fish meal is ground fish, that usually carries a strong scent which is highly appealing to dogs and cats. Fish meal from Oily fish contains large amounts of Omega -3&6 as well as many vitamins and minerals.
Crustaceans – Mainly used in joint supplements due to their shell being full of glucosamine, at times added directly to dog food stating crustaceans and also in its extracted form as glucosamine sulphate.
Fish Oil – This usually comes from the processing of oily fish. Oily fish can provide energy and also contains large amounts of Omega 3 & 6 oils which greatly benefit the human and animal body. Fish oil can help prevent joint problems, skin conditions, cardiovascular disease and sometimes cancer. Fish oil is rich in vitamins such as Vitamin A, B3 and D.
Fresh Fish – Fish is a highly nutritious and palatable protein source for dogs and cats. Fresh fish is the given name to any part of the fish, it can also consist of leftovers from human grade fish. Oily fish such Tuna, Mackerel, herring and salmon are high in omega 3 essential oils. Due to fresh fish containing around 70% water, the product in dog/cat food is far less nutritionally concentrated than fish meal, therefore more is required.
Green Lipped Mussel – Green lipped mussels contain a wide range of nutrients, their combination of Omega 3 oils has anti-inflammatory properties and are often recommended as a natural source of pain relief for arthritis/joint pain sufferers.
Meat and Animal derivatives – The term ‘meat and animal derivatives’ is a very loose term that does not provide any information regarding what animals are being used. These can either consist of high quality ingredients or the total opposite, low grade ingredients. Manufacturers can create a non-fixed formula with a non-consistent ingredients list. The issue with broad terms such as this one is that everything is unknown.
Meat Meal – Meat Meal is usually the term used for ground meat, this can include offal, connective tissue and sometimes bones which have been heated at a high temperature until moisture has evaporated and a fine, dry powder is then left.
Beef – Beef can be used as fresh meat and meat meal. The term ‘beef’ often refers to the fresh form, however this does vary with manufacturers. Beef is highly digestible, highly palatable meat source. Red meats contain higher levels of cholesterol which should be kept to a minimum as well as higher levels of purines and other minerals, this should be avoided if the animal has a urinary tract issue.
Bone Meal - Bone meal/ground bone is added as a natural calcium and phosphorous supplement. The term is very vague and therefore it is unknown which animal this has come from; therefore, it is best avoided if the animal is intolerant to certain meats.
Chicken – Chicken can be used as fresh meat, or as dry meat meal. When the term ‘Chicken’ is used it usually refers to the fresh form, however this does vary with manufacturers. Chicken is a popular ingredient in dog food, it is highly palatable, inexpensive and provides a great source of protein. Chicken is incredibly easy to digest, however due to chicken being used in several dog foods, this has led to a higher rate of intolerance for the ingredient, if your pet has issues with digesting chicken, this should be avoided.
Colostrum – Colostrum is a form of milk produced by the mammary glands of mammals around the time of birth, because baby animals, like humans need a boost when they have first been born therefore it is beneficial for colostrum to be given just after birth. Colostrum is very rich in antibodies, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, it is an incredibly healthy supplement Colostrum contains lower amounts of lactose than milk, though it is still present. If your dog is lactose or dairy intolerant, this should be avoided.
Dairy Products – Milk contains several beneficial nutrients; it also contains high amounts of lactose. Many pets have difficulties digesting lactose and as a result milk can cause stomach pains, flatulence, diarrhea and vomiting. If your pet has a sensitive stomach or an intolerance to lactose, dairy products should be avoided.
Digest – Digest is used to help improve the taste of dog foods, it is formed by breaking down animal tissue through hydrolysis and so is sometimes called hydrolysate. It is unclear which animals these derivatives are made from, therefore looking for a description of the which animal and which part of the animal the digest is made from would be most beneficial.
Duck – Duck can be used as fresh meat or as dry meat meal. When the term ‘Duck’ is used alone, this usually refers to the fresh form. Duck meat is a good source of protein, it is easy for cats and dogs to digest and is also highly palatable. Duck meat is high in Vitamins A and B3.
Egg – Eggs are a good source of low cost, high quality protein, fat and various minerals and micronutrients. Some fat is cholesterol which should be kept to a minimum if your dog has high blood pressure or heart problems.
Fresh Meat – Fresh meat is highly nutritious and a great source of palatable protein. The term fresh meat usually consists of the internal organs and connective tissues which is left over from the processing of human grade meats, however this can differ depending on food manufacturer. This is a very high quality ingredient and is a very natural food for dogs. Fresh meat is becoming increasingly popular in animal food, especially wet foods. Fresh meat contains a high amount of water, usually around 70%, it is far less nutritionally concentrated and therefore more of the product is required.
Hydrolyzed animal proteins – These are proteins that have been broken down into their amino-acid building blocks. These molecules are so small that they are not recognized by the pet’s immune system and cannot trigger an allergic response. Due to this, these proteins are often recommended for allergy prone dogs. This ingredient can be controversial; the hydrolysis process uses acids or enzymatic action which are criticized by natural feeding advocates. Also, during the breakdown of proteins Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) can be formed. This is classified as a food additive and flavour enhancer and this has been linked to food addictions. When MSG is added to food in this way it does not have to be declared. Finally, it is unknown which part of the animal this protein has come from.
Lamb – Lamb can be used as fresh meat or as dry meat meal. When Lamb is listed, the term usually refers to the meat in fresh form. Lamb is an excellent meat source, it is highly palatable and easily digested. A lot of the lamb found in British Pet Foods comes from the UK or sometimes countries like New Zealand. Red meats contain higher levels of trans-fats and cholesterol which should be kept to a minimum if your dog has health issues. Red meats also contain higher levels of purines and other minerals this can be the case in meat meal as there is a higher bone content, dogs with urinary conditions should avoid red meats as it can exacerbate the condition.
Liver – Liver is a beneficial, nutrient dense food for dogs. It is rich in vitamin B12, vitamin A, Copper, Folate, Riboflavin, selenium and also contains a good level of zinc, vitamins C, B5, B6 Protein, Niacin, Phosphorous and iron. It is easily digested and highly palatable.
Pork – Pork can be used as fresh meat or dry meat meal. When the ingredient is listed as ‘pork’ it usually refers to the fresh product. Pork is a highly palatable meat source; the meat is very rarely found in dog food making it a ‘novel protein’ for many dogs. This can make pork based foods useful for allergy prone dogs. Pork like most mammalian meats contains higher levels of purines and other minerals, which are best avoided in dogs with urinary conditions. Uncooked Pork also carries a higher risk of parasitic infection than most meats, therefore it is always best to cook pork thoroughly prior to feeding. Dry, tinned and all other cooked commercial dog foods are always parasite free. As with all meats, the quality of the pork used in pet foods can vary considerably so for further details on the meat found in your dog’s food, contact the manufacturer directly.
Poultry – Poultry can be used as fresh met or as dry meat meal. When the ingredients simply state ‘poultry’ it often refers to the fresh form. As a food group, poultry provides good quality, low cost, highly palatable protein. The category includes products from any domestic fowl such as Chicken, Turkey or Duck. Since the term ‘poultry’ does not specify which animal species the meat comes from, it is frowned upon by many canine nutritionists. Terms like Poultry allow the manufacturer to change the recipe and not create a fixed formula, this makes it difficult to identify problem foods with dogs that are prone to a dietary intolerance.
Fat – Animal fats are a byproduct of meat meal. When meat is heated and ground, fats melt and are drained away. The dry meat meal that has been left over is then low in fat so most dog foods that use meat meal have added fat to bring the levels to an optimum. Unfortunately, dogs enjoy the taste of fat, therefore it is tempting for manufacturers to add more than is needed to make their food seem appetizing. As we all know, excessive fat consumption can cause a lot of problems therefore if you notice that your pet is gaining weight you may need to invest in some food with a lower fat content. Poultry fat could refer to any foul species; however, it is not as vague as the term ‘animal fats’.
Rabbit – Rabbit can be used as a fresh meat or as a meat meal. When the ingredient is listed simply ‘rabbit’ it usually refers to the fresh form. The quality of rabbit in pet foods can vary. Rabbit is an excellent meat source and is a great source of protein. This meat is highly digestible and biologically appropriate which means that it closely resembles the natural diet of the dog. Rabbit meat is quite rarely found in dog food; this makes it a novel protein for a lot of dogs, this can make rabbit based foods particularly useful for allergy prone dogs.
Specified Animal Fats and Oils – Animal fats that are named eg. Chicken fat, duck fat etc. are beneficial as they ensure the recipe is a fixed formula. Animal fats are produced as a byproduct of meat meal production, when the meat is ground and heated, the fat melts away and are drained. The dry meat meal is therefore low in fat so many dog food manufacturers re add the fats to bring the levels up to an optimum. Unfortunately, dogs enjoy the taste of fat, therefore it is tempting for manufacturers to add more than is needed to make their food seem appetizing. As we all know, excessive fat consumption can cause a lot of problems therefore if you notice that your pet is gaining weight you may need to invest in some food with a lower fat content. Poultry fat could refer to any foul species; however, it is not as vague as the term ‘animal fats’.
Tripe – Tripe can be used in its fresh form or as a dry meal. When the ingredient is simply listed as ‘Tripe’, it usually refers to the fresh form. Tripe is the stomach of ruminating animals, it is usually from cows but also sheep, goats, pigs and deer. It is highly nutritious and easy for dogs to digest. Tripe is rich in protein and fat is a good source of essential oils. ‘Green Tripe’ is tripe that has not been cleaned, bleached or processed. Green tripe contains high levels of probiotics including friendly bacteria and digestive enzymes that can benefit a dog’s digestion.
Turkey – Turkey can be used as fresh meat and dry meat meal. When the ingredient is listed as ‘Turkey’ it usually refers to the fresh form. Turkey is easy to digest, highly palatable and provides a great source of protein. It is lower in calories and fat than chicken and is often used in light or senior diets.
Venison – Venison can be used as fresh meat or as dry meat meal. When the ingredients simply state ‘venison’ it usually refers to the fresh form. Venison is the general term for deer meat. Most of the venison that is used in European pet foods comes from New Zealand but due to a global shortage, the price of venison has shown up over the last few years and therefore it Is an expensive ingredient in dog foods.
Grains and Vegetables can also provide protein as well as vitamins and minerals. Find out which ones will benefit your pets the most! Read about our Gold Paw Nutrition Initiative here!
Barley – Once cooked, Barley is easily digested by dogs and provides an abundance of fiber and several micronutrients like selenium and copper. Barley is found in many dog foods and therefore sometimes an allergy is created from excessive consumption of a food that contains a high quantity of the ingredient. In these cases, it is essential to buy a grain free food.
Cereals – Cereals and grains can refer to any product of any cereal including wheat, rice, oats, barley, maize etc. The term ‘cereals’ do not indicate the presence of low grade ingredients as it encompasses all grains, this includes the best grains and the not so good. Often manufacturers use this term as a loose term so that they can create a non-fixed formula and it is often used to create the kibble/biscuit. Due to the ingredient being so cheap it is widely used to ‘bulk up’ ingredients. A high amount of cereals in pet foods can often lead to intolerances due to its indigestibility.
Maize – Maize is widely used in dry dog foods as an alternative to grains like rice, oats and barley. Maize can be difficult for animals to digest and can often lead to food intolerances and allergies. Maize can often cause itchy, flaky skin due to its indigestibility. Many nutritionists and vets now recommend avoiding maize based diets altogether.
Maize Gluten - This is a byproduct of maize processing and can be used to top up protein levels in pet food, usually as an alternative to costlier meat proteins. Maize gluten protein is not very easy to digest unlike meat proteins. As a result of this, it can lead to health issues like skin problems, itching and flakiness and also hyperactivity and digestion issues. For this reason, it may be beneficial to stay away from foods which contain maize gluten, especially with pets with sensitive stomachs.
Millet – Millet is an easily digestible grain for dogs, it is rich in B vitamins, iron and potassium. Millet is also gluten free and so makes a useful carbohydrate choice for hypoallergenic dogs.
Oats – Oats are used in many pet foods. They are a good source of dietary fibre as well as a host of nutrients including; Manganese, Selenium, Vitamin B1, Magnesium and Phosphorus. Once cooked, oats are quite easy for dogs to digest, though as they contain gluten they can also sometimes cause allergies if used in large quantities.
Rice (brown & whole grain) – Rice can come in many forms, from Long grain and Basmati varieties to shorter forms such as pearl rice and short grain rice. The nutritional characteristics of most rice forms are very similar and most varieties can be found in their whole, brown form and their white form. Brown rice is regarded as a superfood and as well as it is cooked well it is easily digested by most animals. It contains a whole host of natural nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, Manganese, selenium, magnesium and omega 3 oils. Brown/Whole grain rice is also a good source of fibre which is important in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
White Rice – White rice is brown rice that has been milled and polished to remove outer bran, germ and aleurone layers. Unfortunately, these removed layers contain the vast majority of the grain’s nutrients and once removed the remaining rice is mostly starch. The term ‘Rice’ often refers to white rice unless specifically stated otherwise.
Rice Bran – During the production of white rice, the outer layers of the grain are removed and are used as a byproduct called Rice Bran. Without the starchy white rice grain, rice bran is incredibly nutritious with many nutrients such as Vitamins B1, B3 and B6 as well as Iron, Manganese, Selenium, Magnesium and Omega 3 oils as well as a health promoting natural antioxidant. Rice bran is an excellent source of premium quality fibre.
Rice Germ – Rice grains are made up of four parts: the hard outer hull, the inner seed coat or pericarp, the starchy endosperm and the embryo or germ. The germ contains a large proportion of the rice grain’s vitamins and is very rich in B vitamins particularly thiamine. Rice bran is made up of the pericarp and the germ.
Rye – Rye is a high quality grain with a nutritional profile similar to Barley. It is one of three ‘gluten – grains’ after wheat and barley. It is unsuitable for dogs with celiac disease or with a grain intolerance. Rye is best in its whole grain form as it contains more nutrients.
Sorghum – Sorghum is a grass and its grain is widely used in dog foods as it is inexpensive. This grain is high in starch and has a similar nutrient profile to maize. Like maize, it does not compare well against other high quality grains like rice, oats and barley. However, sorghum is gluten free so it is often recommended for dogs with food intolerances.
Spelt – Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat which has been used since the bronze age. The grain provides a broader range of nutrients than common wheat and is a good source of B vitamins, magnesium and fibre. Spelt contains wheat gluten therefore should not be fed to coeliac dogs. Spelt is rarely found in dog foods, therefore it is a difficult to develop an intolerance from the grain.
Spelt Protein – Spelt contains around 17% protein and a broad range of amino acids. For this reason, isolated spelt protein is sometimes used to top up a food’s protein content. Spelt protein contains gluten and should not be fed to coeliac dogs or dogs with wheat intolerances.
Wheat – Wheat is a common staple in many lower-grade dog foods as it is inexpensive and is ideal for forming kibble and biscuits. Unfortunately, it is regularly linked with dietary intolerance in dogs which can make it a controversial ingredient. In dogs with coeliac disease, the gluten protein contained in the grain damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing vital nutrients. Wheat intolerance can therefore lead to health issues most commonly affecting the skin, coat and digestive system and it can also cause hyperactivity.
Wheat Feed – Wheat feed appears to be the general term used for wheat that does not meet the standards necessary for human consumption. It is only suitable for animal feed, usually for farm animals or horses. Since wheat is widely regarded as a problematic ingredient for dogs, wheat feed is certainly worth avoiding.
Wheat Germ – Wheat germ is the part of the grain that would grow into the new plant. Relative to the whole wheat grain, wheat germ is tiny making up only about 3% of the total weight, but it contains the vast majority of the grain’s non-carb nutrients such as high levels of fatty acids and other healthy unsaturated oils along with a good dose of B vitamins, vitamin E, Phosphorous, zinc and magnesium. The carbohydrates found in wheat are more difficult for dogs to digest than those in many other grains making it more likely to lead to a dietary intolerance. Wheat germ does not contain much gluten and therefore is less likely to lead to any adverse reaction.
Alfalfa – Alfalfa is part of the legume family of plants making it a cousin of the clover, peas and beans. Alfalfa is widely regarded as a superfood, and in small amounts it can be very beneficial for our pets. It is a good, natural source of a whole host of nutrients including a large amount of vitamins and minerals such as Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Vitamins A, C, E and several B vitamins as well as being high in fibre.
Barley grass – Barley grass is made from the leaves of barley plants and it has become a popular health supplement for humans and dogs. It contains a wide range of nutrients and is suggested as a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Like oat grass and wheatgrass, barley grass does not contain the problematic proteins found in barley grains and so it can be given to dogs with sensitive digestive systems.
Carrots – Carrots are excellent sources of vitamin A, which is used to maintain healthy vision, as well as numerous minerals, soluble fibre and abundant natural anti-oxidants. When cooked, carrots are easily digested.
Chicory – Chicory root is rich in simple sugars and polysaccharide inulin. Inulin can have a beneficial effect on the gut’s good bacteria which is making it increasingly popular as a prebiotic and source of fibre. Inulin is sweet in flavor and therefore is a popular flavor enhancer.
Derivatives of vegetable origin – This term can refer to a wide range of ingredients, some of high quality and others that aren’t. Due to the vague term, manufacturers often change formula’s depending on what vegetable products are available at the time. If your pet has an allergy it may be best to avoid ‘derivatives’ as it is unknown what is exactly in their feed.
Garlic – Large doses of garlic can be dangerous for dogs; this has caused many manufacturers to omit it completely from their foods. However, small amounts of garlic can be extremely beneficial. Garlic is an effective anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It helps to eliminate intestinal worms and can act as a deterrent to skin parasites like ticks. Garlic can be helpful for dogs with all sorts of ailments and infections caused by bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection. Garlic has also been linked with lowering blood sugar in diabetics, aiding joint mobility and lowering blood cholesterol.
Oat grass – This is less well known than barley grass or wheatgrass but it still offers many of the same beneficial nutrients. Oat grass is rich in a wide range of both vitamins and minerals. Like barley grass and wheatgrass, oat grass does not contain the sometimes problematic proteins found in oat grains making it suitable for cereal sensitive dogs.
Pea Flour – Pea flour is a powder milled from roasted peas. In small amounts, pea flour can be a good dog food ingredient as it is rich in iron and calcium and is also high in fibre. Pea flour also contains a high proportion of protein and is sometimes used as a protein supplement when used in higher proportions. Unfortunately, dogs cannot digest plan proteins as easily as those proteins found in meats.
Peas – Green peas contain health promoting antioxidants as well as a wide spectrum of nutrients including C, K, B1 and manganese, fibre and folate.
Potato Protein – Potato protein is a byproduct of potato processing and is used as a protein source in some dog foods. Potato protein, like pea protein is more difficult for dogs to digest than meat protein.
Potato Starch – Potatoes are becoming increasingly more popular in pet foods due to certain foods being ‘grain free’. Potato starch is often used as a binding agent to help kibble form. Whilst whole potatoes contain a range of nutrients, potato starch contains very little nutritional value.
Potatoes – Potatoes are made up of starch, some varieties are particularly starchy. There is debate over whether dogs can easily digest starches, but when it is digested it is broken down into simple sugars, therefore potatoes may not be the best choice for diabetic animals. Potatoes contain dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium.
Sugar Beet – Beet pulp is used in pet food as a dietary fibre supplement. The sugar is removed leaving behind a great source of insoluble and soluble fibres. Fibre helps to promote digestive health in animals, much in the same way as it helps digestive health in humans.
Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potato is nutritionally different from a common potato. They contain much more fibre and is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C and B6. Despite being very high in sugar, recent studies have shown that sweet potatoes are beneficial for diabetics as they help to stabilize blood sugars and lower insulin resistance. Sweet potatoes are regarded as a high quality carbohydrate.
Tapioca – Tapioca or Cassava is a starch extracted from the root of the Cassava plant. It is often used as a carbohydrate source in grain free dog foods but as it is lacking in nutrients it is generally regarded as a low grain fuller for dogs.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins A, C and K and are high in dietary fibre. They also contain minerals, micro-nutrients including molybdenum, potassium, chromium and manganese.
Vegetable Fibre – Vegetable fibre can refer to any vegetable fibre form but it is commonly used as a more consumer friendly term for sugar beet pulp. Fibre is a necessary part of a dog’s diet and it helps promote digestive health.
Vegetable Oil – Vegetable oil is a general term for any oil of plant origin. In general, it is usually used to refer to a low quality oil such as rapeseed, corn or palm oil. It is added to dog food as an alternative to nutritious fats and oils.
Vegetable Protein Extracts – Vegetable isolate or protein extract is another broad term. There is no exact way to identify what vegetables are used. Vegetable proteins are nutritionally inferior to those that are found in meat for dogs and cats. Common sources of vegetable proteins include; Soya, Maize and wheat which have been linked to dietary intolerance. Many nutritionists believe that vegetable protein extracts may be another word for MSG or Monosodium glutamate which has had increased negative attention in the press in recent times.
Vegetables – Another broad term for vegetables and legumes. Vegetables are an excellent addition to a dog’s diet, but more so when they are identified and it is known what vegetables and the amount of vegetables are in the recipe. Many white, starchy vegetables such as potatoes or sugar beet are not as nutritious for dogs, so many believe this broad term could include a variety of low quality vegetables.
Wheatgrass – Wheatgrass is full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. It is a common nutritional supplement for people and has many good properties. Although wheatgrass is made from the leaves and stems of the wheat plant, it contains no gluten and so therefore is suitable for wheat sensitive dogs.
Yucca Extract – Yucca is a plant that grows mostly in desert areas. Extract from the yucca plant is said to help the body remove toxins and aid digestion. Yucca is also excellent at neutralizing odour from urine and feaces.
Many oils can enhance the look of your pets coat and many fruits have antioxidant properties - diets full of fruits and healthy oils are essential! Read about our Gold Paw Nutrition Initiative here!
Borage Oil – Much like evening primrose oil, borage oil is an excellent source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which has anti-inflammatory properties and is often recommended in the treatment of arthritis as well as skin conditions.
Cranberries – Cranberries are very rich in vitamin C antioxidants. They have also been widely recognized as helping to prevent Urinary Tract Infections by preventing harmful bacteria and fungi from latching to the wall of the urinary tract.
Evening Primrose Oil – Evening Primrose oil is from the seeds of the evening primrose plant. It is used as a supplement for humans and pets due to its high concentration of the essential oil gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Essential oils like GLA are needed in the body to remain healthy but that cannot be made by the body itself, therefore it has to be obtained from the diet. Evening primrose oil is most commonly recommended as an anti-inflammatory for dogs with skin problems and joint issues and can also help with digestive issues such as colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Grape Seed Extract – Grape seed extract is a strong antioxidant that helps to support the immune system. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and therefore is sometimes recommended for dogs with skin conditions. Unlike whole grapes, grape see extract is not toxic to dogs.
Linseed – Linseed which is also known as flaxseed, contain high levels of good quality fibre, natural antioxidants, an abundance of micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids.
Lupin beans – Lupin beans are added to some dog foods as an inexpensive protein source but like all vegetable derived proteins, lupin is a poor substitute for good quality meat for cats and dogs.
Olive oil – This is a high quality food supplement with proven benefits for the coat condition and also the heart. It contains many antioxidants and is a great source of vitamin E.
Psyllium – The husks of psyllium seeds are sometimes added to dog foods as a source of soluble fibre which is essential to maintain good digestive health.
Quinoa – Quinoa is rich in protein and contains a great set of essential amino acids making it a complete protein. It also contains magnesium, fibre, manganese and copper. Quinoa is becoming popular in sensitive diets as dogs have not been exposed to this grain very much, if at all.
Rapeseed Oil – This contains omega-3 oils but many argue that it is high in a toxin called eruric acid.
Soya – Soya beans are very high in protein and are a low cost meat substitute, however dogs struggle to digest this compared to regular meat proteins, so it is best to be avoided.
Soybean Oil – Soybean oil is cholesterol free, though it does contain more saturated fats than other vegetable oils and it is therefore regarded as a low grade option.
Sunflower Oil – Sunflower oil is low in saturated fats and is rich in vitamin E which is a natural antioxidant.
Devil’s Claw – Devils claw has been used to treat arthritis and reducing joint pain. It is costly and therefore rarely makes an appearance in dog foods.
Green Tea – Green tea contains many powerful antioxidants, these have many health benefits and great for the cardiovascular system. It can also improve brain function and aid in fat loss.
Herbs – This is another broad term, it can refer to any kind of herb and it allows manufacturers to change their formula. The term can refer to plants with leaves, seeds or flowers used for their flavor, aroma, nutrition or medicinal properties.
Rosemary – Rosemary oil is used as a natural preservative. It is a powerful antioxidant, which helps reduce the risk of cancer. Rosemary can be dangerous at pregnancy as it can affect uterine functions and menstrual flow, there is no scientific proof for this however it has been a topic for discussion for nutritionists, so it may be wise to avoid the herb if your animal is pregnant.
Supplements and additives are used in a number of human and pet foods, many are beneficial whilst others may cause harm. Read about our Gold Paw Nutrition Initiative here!
Calcium carbonate – This is used in pet foods as a calcium supplement and also as an acidity regulator, colouring, anti-caking agent or stabilizer. It can be derived from bone meal, oyster shells, limestone or clay. Calcium Carbonate can help ease symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome. Excessive amounts can be unhealthy and cause serious side effects, therefore large amounts should be avoided.
Calcium Phosphate – Calcium phosphate is usually derived from cow’s milk and is added to dog food as a source of calcium and phosphorous. Calcium phosphate is the prime component of bone and tooth enamel.
Chondroitin – Chondroitin sulphate is a naturally occurring molecule which eases the symptoms of osteoarthritis and other joint conditions. This is also an effective natural anti-inflammatory. Chondroitin is naturally found in the body; therefore, some supplements use extracts from other animals such as cows. Chondroitin can stimulate repair mechanisms in the joints and can prevent the breakdown of cartilage.
Copper Sulphate – Cooper sulphate can be classed as harmful in large quantities, though because dogs cannot make it themselves they require it in feed. The amount of copper sulphate within the feed should be a minimum, and most foods such as raw diets and foods with higher meat content readily contain copper sulphate.
D, L-methionine – Methionine is an amino acid (a building block of protein). It is naturally found in a wide range of foods; it is sometimes used to reduce the pH of urine which helps to prevent damage to grass.
FOS – Fructo-oligo-saccharides are a nutritional supplement which are becoming popular in pet foods due to their pro-biotic effect. It can encourage growth of friendly bacteria in the large intestine which promotes a healthy GI tract. FOS is extracted from fruits and vegetables like chicory and some grains such as wheat and barley.
Glucosamine – Glucosamine sulphate is recommended for those who suffer with joint problems. Glucosamine attracts fluid to joint tissue which helps cartilage maintain elasticity, it can also block the action of enzymes that break down cartilage tissue. Glucosamine can be found in animal bones and bone marrow, commercially manufactured glucosamine comes from the hydrolysis of the shells of crustaceans.
L-Carnitine – L-Carnitine is an amino acid which is recommended for animals and humans with heart conditions and those that need to lose weight. L- Carnitine has the main role of metabolizing fats, so added L-carnitine is added to aid weight loss as it helps to break down fat whilst maintaining muscle.
Lysine – L-lysine is a building block for all protein in the dogs’ body. Lysine is an essential amino acid which means the dog cannot produce it themselves so it must be eaten.
MOS – Mannan-oligo-saccharide is a nutritional supplement which is popular in dog foods due to its pre-biotic effect. It encourages the growth of friendly bacteria in the large intestine which promotes over-all gastro-intestinal health. MOS is derived from the cell wall of yeasts.
MSM – Methyl-sulphonyl-methane (MSM) is a natural derivative of pine bark which is used for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint problems due to its anti-inflammatory effect.
Nucleotides – Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA and RNA and are essential for all kinds of life. Many dog food producers add additional nucleotides to their foods as they may be beneficial for digestion and help recovery after injury or illness.
Potassium Chloride – Naturally occurring mineral that is added as a potassium supplement.
Sodium Selenate & Sodium Selenite – An optimum level of selenium is essential for our dogs’ overall wellbeing and good health. Being deficient in selenium can be extremely damaging to the body therefore having foods containing selenium is highly beneficial. Many grains and seeds contain selenium and most meats contain it also, although usually it is added as a supplement to food. Selenium can come in many forms but the most commonly used supplements are sodium selenite & sodium selenite, this is because of how cheap it is to manufacture the minerals. The EU have classified both of these minerals as toxic and in high concentrations both can cause severe organ damage and can be fatal. The dosages in pet foods are much lower and should cause less problems, though there is always a risk. Sodium selenite and sodium selenate are usually found in the ‘minerals’ section of pet foods and may not be clearly named, if you are in doubt please contact the food manufacturer.
Taurine – This is an amino acid (a building block of protein) that is naturally found in many foods such as seafood and meat. Dogs can produce their own taurine which makes it a non-essential nutrient for most dogs. Studies have shown that taurine can help treat heart problems therefore it is now found as a supplement in many dog foods. Cats cannot synthesize their own taurine; therefore, their diets must contain the substance. Most cat foods contain taurine, though supplements are available.
Threonine – This is an essential amino acid which means it cannot be made by the dog so it must be eaten. It is a necessary building block for the proteins in the dog’s body. Threonine is an essential amino acid which means it cannot be made by the dog’s body itself and has to be ingested. It is present in a range of foods, especially meats and is therefore present in most dog foods, though some manufacturers top the levels up with supplements.
Vitamins and Minerals – All pet foods add vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that your animals nutritional needs are met. They usually come together in a multi-vitamin and mineral complex form of a white powder which is very much the same as the human vitamin supplements that are an offer. This is a varied term which does not state the particular vitamin or mineral used, if you are interested and a breakdown does not appear on the foods you may want to contact the manufacturer.
Artificial Colouring – The artificial colourings found within animal foods are the same as those found in human food. As with children’s behavior these can also play havoc to animals too! There have been many scientific studies that show a link between food additives and behavioral problems. Many of the common artificial colourings that are found in dog foods include sunset yellow, tartrazine, ponceau 4r, patent blue V and titanium oxide although they may be listed by their E numbers or at times just as ‘colourings’. These substances are often derived from petroleum products and remain in the environment for many years. Dogs cannot see an array of colours like us humans can, therefore the role of colourings mainly appeals to the owner.
Artificial preservatives and antioxidants – Artificial preservatives work by slowing down decomposition, however there are many concerns over their effects on health. Many artificial preservatives have been linked to allergic reactions, skin disease, skin, eye and respiratory irritants, behavior problems and at times contributing to cancer. If food contains artificial preservatives or antioxidants they must be stated somewhere on the packaging. They can be listed in the following forms;
EU permitted additives
BHA and BHT
E320 and E321
To avoid any accidental ingestion of artificial preservatives, look out for foods that state ‘no artificial preservatives’.
Carrageenan – This is an extract of seaweed that has been used as an additive for hundreds of years. Carrageenan is usually found in wet foods as a gelling, thickening and stabilizing. This additive has been linked to many gastrointestinal issues such as, inflammation, ulcers, lesions and at times malignant tumours. Due to the risks with consuming Carrageenan, it has been banned from infant formula in the EU for precautionary reasons.
EC permitted additives – The European union has listed over 4000 artificial additives which can be added to foods but they are usually named ‘EU Permitted additives’. This term is very broad and it is unknown which additives are being used. Some additives may be beneficial and harmless whilst others are possible causes for cancer therefore they should be avoided.
Natural Colourings – Although dogs are quite colour blind, many food manufacturers feel the need to add colourings into feed to attract owners. Natural colourings are obviously much better for animals than artificial colourings, though there are no nutritional benefits to adding colouring into animal feed at all.
Natural Preservatives and antioxidants – Most dry foods contain a form of preservative; many manufacturers continue to use artificial preservatives though natural alternatives are now being considered. The most common natural preservatives are vitamin E, vitamin C and rosemary oil, all of which are effective as preservatives.
Phosphoric Acid – Phosphoric acid (E338) is a clear, colourless liquid that is added to foods primarily as an acidifier but is also used effectively as a flavouring, emulsifier and to prevent discolouration. Studies have linked phosphoric acid to reduced bone density in humans making it a fairly controversial ingredient for both people and animals.
Propylene glycol – Propylene glycol is a synthetic compound that absorbs water and can therefore be used to keep semi-moist dog foods and treats semi-moist. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties making it suitable as a preservative. In cats, this ingredient can cause Heinz body anemia and it also has links to asthma and allergic reactions. Propylene glycol is used in antifreeze for cars, this does not instill confidence in pet owners.
Sodium hexametaphosphate – Sodium hexametaphosphate (also known as sodium HMP or E452i) is added to some dog foods because of its effect of softening and reducing tooth tartar. The concentrations found in pet foods are regarded as safe.
Sodium Tripolyphosphate – Sodium Tripolyphosphate (also called STPP or E451) is added to dog foods as a preservative and to help moist foods to retain moisture so that they appear fresher for longer. This ingredient can cause skin irritation therefore it is best avoided if your pet is prone to skin problems.
Tocopherols – Tocopherols (part of the vitamin E family of compounds) are powerful antioxidants and are the most commonly used natural preservative in dog food. As antioxidants, tochopherols are able to slow down the spoilage of food by inhibiting the oxidisation that turns fats rancid. Their use is extremely widespread in the UK as it provides a convenient, healthy alternative to potentially harmful chemical preservatives.