For many people across America, pets are part of the family, making pet health a high priority.  Many dog owners rely on dry dog food products to keep their four-legged companions strong and fit.  Hundreds of brands promise all the nutrition and goodness dogs need.  Unfortunately, dry dog food may not be as healthy as you might think. Here are four important facts you may not know about dry dog food:

1.  Dry dog food does not prevent tartar buildup.

Good pet health extends to your dog's teeth, and dry dog food does not help.  Because of its abrasive quality, it can remove some plaque at the tips of the teeth, but it can also collect at the gum line.  This can cause plaque, tartar and gum disease, and the amount of refined carbohydrates in some dry dog foods makes the problem even worse.

Get in the habit of regularly brushing your dog’s teeth. It’s easy, and it can prolong your dog’s life (just like good oral hygiene can extend human longevity.)  Regular brushing helps prevent bad doggy breath, it makes your pet more comfortable as they age; and over time, you can save a lot of money by not having to have professional intervention to repair what should have been tended to all along.  Get a tube of chicken or peanut butter flavored dog tooth paste from the pet shop.  Use a soft toothbrush size-appropriate for your dog’s breed.  Have a partner hold your dog, and gently brush their teeth several times a week.  They’ll get used to it and enjoy it once you develop a routine.

2.  Many dry dog foods are deficient in nutrients needed for good pet health.

Most dry dog foods lack an adequate amount of essential fatty acids (EFAs), nutrients that are needed for healthy pet function.  Found in fatty fish, chicken, pork and many plant oils, EFAs are important for your dog's growth and reproduction and they support healthy skin and fur.

3.  Some dry dog foods can cause bladder stones and bladder infections.

Certain dry dog foods lack important minerals, which can cause a buildup of other minerals in a dog's body to compensate.  This mineral buildup can lead to bladder stones.  Cereal products found in some dry dog foods can also cause mineral buildup in dog urine, which can lead to bladders stones and bladder infections.

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4Dry dog foods can be bad for your dog's health and the health of your lawn.

Lacking adequate sources of energy and high in insoluble fiber, many dry dog foods are difficult for dogs to digest.  This results in large, moist and smelly stools.  These wet stools contain concentrated urine that can burn grass, as evidenced by brown patches on the lawns of many dog owners.        

Devoted dog owners put pet health on top of their list of daily priorities.  There are good dry dog food brands available.  Learn to read the labels and seek out a healthy alternative for your pet.  Many are turning to homemade dog food as an alternative to dry kibble.  The foods below offer good daily nutrition for dogs:

  • Seeded apples, oats, blueberries, carrots – sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber
  • Chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish – sources of protein
  • Salmon, flax seed – sources of essential fatty acids
  • Plain yogurt, cottage cheese – sources of calcium
  • Brown rice, sweet potatoes, barley – sources of carbohydrates