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    6 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know About Dog Food

    By Amanda MacMillan
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM

    Most dogs will eat anything, from trash on the sidewalk to scraps from your table. They’re not picky when it comes to nutrition. So, how do you know if the food you’re buying for them is healthy?

    The FDA regulates all commercial pet food, so most products on store shelves do have safe and nutritious ingredients. But it helps to know some basic facts before you choose a brand and dish it out.

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    1. Look for the nutritional guarantee.

    The food that makes up a dog’s main meals should have a statement on the label from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) -- that the product “provides complete and balanced nutrition,” or that the product “is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.”

    The main ingredient you choose for your pooch -- chicken, lamb, beef, or something else -- doesn’t make much of a difference, says Sherry Sanderson, DVM, associate professor at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. The important thing is that he can eat it with no problems.

    2. Don’t rule out by-products or grains.

    Chicken and meat by-products get a bad rap, thanks to companies that claim “real chicken” or “real meat” ingredients are better. The terms “by-product” or “by-product meal” refer to ground-up parts of the animal carcass, including bones and organs. But they can be very nutritious, Sanderson says -- even more nutritious than the muscle meat that we, as humans, enjoy.

    Grains and corn meal are also common ingredients in commercial dog foods -- and that’s OK, says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, associate professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “Going gluten-free may be a trendy diet for people, but we rarely see dogs with gluten sensitivities.”

    If you do think your pal might be allergic to something in her food, don’t make a diagnosis yourself. Ask your veterinarian how to figure out exactly which ingredient to avoid.

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