Best ingredients for dog food

Dog food is highly regulated and has to pass many rigorous quality tests performed by veterinarians and canine nutritionists. Of course, different brands of dog food put different ingredients in their products, so we’re here to help you understand what are the best ingredients for dog food.

When it comes to your dog’s diet, what it eats in a day is as important as humans’ daily menu. Most of our four-legged friends are fed with canned wet food which may seem not appealing to humans. Such cans however contain a perfect balance of nutrients which our dogs need to stay fit and healthy. Dog food may seem unappetizing to us humans but in fact, it contains many nutritious ingredients.

We asked veterinarians and canine nutritionists for their opinion on the best ingredients in dog food. Their knowledge let us construct this full list of ingredients that are safe and beneficial for our pets. With their help, we revied some of the most popular brands of canned food for dogs and made our recommendations. If you want to find out which wet dog food will be best for your pooch at different age stages, read further on.  

Find out what are the best ingredients for dog food and what can you feed your dog. Check out our TOP 10 ingredients which will boost your dog’s meals and improve their health. You will also learn how your dog’s digestive system works and which ingredients support the proper functioning of the stomach and intestines. Guarantee your dog a long, happy and healthy life! 

Dog’s digestive system

While cats are strict carnivores, domestic dogs can also benefit from eating grains, fruits, and vegetables which consist of many beneficial nutrients. Meat should still make up the majority of the dog’s diet, however, the non-meat food will do your pooch much good. These non-meat foods are not just fillers but are a valuable source of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Dog’s digestive system will perform much better with these combined in its everyday diet. Those ingredients can boost your dog’s health and save it from obesity and other serious diseases. 

While introducing new ingredients in your dog’s diet be careful, especially if you are dealing with a little puppy. Too much new, unknown for your pup’s stomach food can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Remember also, that large breed dogs and small breed dogs and puppies have different nutritional requirements, so before giving your pet any new item on the menu, make sure it’s appropriate by consulting it with your vet.  [1]

Best ingredients for dog food (canned)


Meat should be number one on your dog’s canned food ingredients list. Make sure it’s good quality meat sourced from healthy animals. Each can should contain around 60% of good quality meat. This ingredient helps dogs maintain a healthy weight and keep their muscles and joints strong. 

Organ meat

Organ meat sourced from actual organs such as kidneys, heart, liver, and gizzard is as beneficial as meat in general. Organ meat is an important ingredient in dog’s canned food because it contains lots of lean, muscle-based protein. Organ meat provides critical vitamins and nutrients for your pup. 


Carbohydrates found in vegetables, fruit, and rice are the second important ingredient in your dog’s food. They provide energy which is essential especially for young dogs and are a part of a healthy, balanced diet. While reviewing the ingredients list on your pooch’s canned food search for carbs like pumpkin, squash, kale, rice, and berries. 

Healthy fats 

Fats are another important ingredient in your dog’s diet. Healthy fats can be found in meats or healthy oils such as sunflower oil, coconut oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, and olive oil. Healthy fats are responsible among others for encouraging proper cell function to improve your dog’s coat. 


Fiber is essential for the proper functioning of the digestive tract. It helps maintain a healthy weight and prevent anal gland disease. Finding fiber in dog’s canned food may be difficult so make sure you supplement it with some healthy homemade fiber snacks. 


Dogs exactly like humans require vitamins in their food. The most essential for dogs are vitamins A, B, D, E, and K. You can find the most important vitamins in a dog’s wet food however if your vet suspect some serious vitamin deficiency, consider supplementing your pup with additional vitamins. A good idea would be also to boost your dog’s diet with natural vitamin bombs like carrots, broccoli, or apples.


Sodium, chloride, and potassium are all examples of electrolytes that should appear at the bottom of the ingredients list in your dog’s canned wet food. In small amounts, they are beneficial to your dog’s health, especially when it comes to organ functioning and muscle usage. 

Fatty acids

Some essential fatty acids are produced by dogs by themselves, but some need to be supplemented. The essential fatty acids which should come from a healthy diet are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-6 fatty acid can be found in fat from meat or poultry, while Omega-3 comes from fish oil and flaxseed.  


Your dog needs minerals only in small amounts, so you will find them at the bottom of the ingredient list of good quality wet dog food. They are extremely important to your dog’s health. A mineral deficiency can cause problems with bones, joints impaired immunity, and anemia. The most popular minerals for dogs are zinc, iron, and manganese sulfate.[2]

Top 10 ingredients to boost your dog’s diet

Bone broth 

Bone broth is not only beneficial to your dog but is also one of the dogs’ favorite snacks. It smells and tastes deliciously to your dog. Bone broth is essentially the water that smells like bones and meat so it’s great to keep your pet hydrated. Most dogs don’t drink enough throughout the day so exchanging water with bone broth is a simple and effective trick. 

Fresh Vegetables and fruit 

Fresh vegetables and fruit are a vitamin bomb that is super beneficial to your dog. Raw veggies and fruit contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are easily absorbed by your pet. What is more fruit and vegetables are easy to digest and can help fight obesity in dogs. Pro tip: try not to slice these too much, because your dog loves to bite and chew on whole chunks of carrot or apple.

Fermented vegetables

Fermented veggies are beneficial to both humans and dogs. They are a great source of probiotics that help fighting yeast or bacteria. Fermented vegetables support a healthy gut and as we all know a healthy gut is responsible for a healthy immune system. Great examples of fermented vegetables are purple sauerkraut or gherkins.

Pumpkin purée

Pumpkin purée contains tons of soluble fiber, which supports dogs’ digestive system. If your dog struggles with diarrhea, pumpkin purée may help bulk up their stool. However, if your pooch is constipated it loosens the stool. Pumpkin also contains many vitamins and minerals and is high in antioxidants. Pumpkin purée is a safe food to give your dog so any amount will be good, even for little pups. 

Raw eggs

Raw eggs are an excellent source of selenium, iron, vitamin A, riboflavin, fatty acids, vitamin B12, and folate. These are all beneficial to your dog. We suggest giving your dog a raw egg not more often than 2-3 times a week. Remember, that by boiling an egg, you will destroy many egg’s natural nutrients. Also, a grounded egg shell can be a great calcium booster. Always wash an egg before giving it to your pet, to get rid of any chemicals.

Goat’s milk

Goat’s milk is easier to digest by your dog than cow’s milk. It contains naturally occurring probiotics that are easy to absorb by dogs’ digestive systems. Goat milk is also a great way to keep your pet hydrated. At first, try with small amounts and if your dog tolerates goat’s milk just fine you can increase the dosage.


Kefir has many health benefits both to humans and dogs. It is loaded with probiotics that help fight pathogenic yeast and bacteria. Kefir can help fight some of the dogs’ common health issues such as smelliness, itchiness, losing fur, or frequent ear infections. Because kefir contains lots of beneficial vitamins and minerals it also helps with candidiasis or allergies. 

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar may not be suitable for every dog. It may however improve dogs’ digestion, can help reduce gas and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. A bit of apple cider vinegar can also relieve constipation and has anti-bacterial properties. A good idea is to add just a little bit of apple cider vinegar into your dog’s water bowl.


Sardines are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for dogs’ good health and well-being. Sardines are small and easy to eat by your dog which makes them a perfect snack. Sardines due to their tiny size do not accumulate toxins in their body which means that they are a relatively clean source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Try giving your dog one sardine and observe if it likes it or not. Sardines do have a special taste so not all dogs may like them. 

Coconut oil 

Coconut oil contains some fatty acids from which your dog may benefit from. It helps your dog maintain shiny and soft fur. Coconut oil can be given to your pooch even daily. It also helps with weight loss, improves gut health, improves brain function, and can repel ticks, mosquitoes, and parasites. Rubbing coconut oil into your pooch’s paws will help it moisturize them and heal if dry and cracked.[3]

Cynthia L. Collins

Cynthia L. Collins

Devoted dog lover, a dog mom to her two rescued Shih Tzus Romeo and Elvis, and an Australian Shepherd, Bandit. When she isn’t working, she volunteers in a local shelter and various animal welfare organizations.

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