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What Makes a High Quality Ingredient in Healthy Pet Treats and Foods?

Written by: Michelle Toma Olson



Time to read 4 min

We all want our pets to have “high quality” foods and treats in their diets. But with so many options on the market and so many sources of information to sift through, how do we really know if what we’re feeding our beloved fur babies is actually high quality? Lucky for you, Farm to Pet is here to help!

Our founders have done the legwork for you, researching countless pet treats, ingredients, suppliers and production processes to realize our vision of offering the best single-ingredient treats possible for your puppos. Yes, we want to be your trusted source for high quality, healthy pet treats, but also a resource for helpful, practical and easy-to-understand information about dog health, wellness and nutrition.

In this article, we are breaking down just what quality means when it comes to healthy dog treat and food ingredients so you can feel confident that what you’re feeding your precious pet is indeed premium, high quality nutrition.

High Quality Ingredients

Corgi dog with feeding lickimat and Farm to Pet Chicken Chips
Chicken Chips are a healthy addition to Lick Mats.

According to our fellow dog wellness enthusiasts at Wild Earth dog blog , a quality pet food ingredient can be defined by two main characteristics:

  • It is a good source of one or more important nutrients.
  • It is free from contaminants.

First, let’s look at nutrients. As we discuss in our blog article “The ABCs of Proper Puppy Nutrition,” there are six essential elements of canine nutrition: water, fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Basically, choosing pure sources of these nutrients, then feeding them in the proper balance, will provide the nutrition our dogs need to be in peak condition. For example, muscle and organ meats contain protein, fat, and minerals, while sweet potatoes and brown rice are sources of carbohydrates and vitamins, just to name a few.

As for contaminants, these include antibiotic residues, pesticides, microbes, or pathogens that could sicken your puppo or worse. As we will show below, some objectionable ingredients will be listed on the package. However, finding evidence of contaminants is more complicated. Many are part of the farming or processing of an ingredient, such as fed to chickens or sprayed on crops, and thus do not have to be listed as primary ingredients. So how do you avoid them? Look for terms like responsibly sourced, hormone-free, organic, etc. This type of language is typically a good indicator of clean, quality recipes.

And what are these objectionable ingredients we are talking about? Some absolute red-flag ingredients include BHA, xylitol, and artificial colors or flavors. These can cause digestive issues, allergic reactions or even toxicity in large amounts, so if you see these on a package, just say no! 

High Quality Sources

Two boys walking with their two german shepherds on the farm with cows and hay bales in the background.
The source of dog treats is transparent at Farm to Pet.

Another key factor in the level of quality of pet food and treat ingredients is their source, which includes both the origin of the ingredient as well as the production of the final product. It can even include the country of manufacture! Be cautious of products imported from countries like China with less stringent, or non-existent, regulation of what can be put into pet products. To be safe, it is best to stick with US-made options like ours at Farm to Pet, or products from countries with known standards for pet food safety such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and members of the EU.

When it comes to food origin, just think of it like we do for human food – whole foods with minimal or natural processing are best. The description of a product on an ingredient list can help determine the purity of the source simply by the words used. As in the examples given above, straightforward and recognizable food names like chicken, oats, beef liver, and potato are whole food sources. On the other side of the spectrum, terms like chicken meal, derivatives of vegetable origin (yes, that’s a thing!), corn syrup or even melamine (a plastic-derived filler!) signify processed foods, byproducts and additives that have no place in a dog's diet.

And similar to how we can avoid contaminants, healthy dog treats, and foods will often clearly state the origin of their ingredients right on the packaging. For example, we use terms like ethically-sourced, responsibly-farmed, human-grade and the like to show that, not only do we produce our chicken and turkey chips to the highest manufacturing standards, but that our poultry starts out high quality to begin with.

Speaking of manufacturing standards, we believe the less we do to whole food ingredients, the better! That’s why we freeze dry our chicken and turkey into chips to remove any microbes but keep the nutrition, no preservatives required. Just like with human options, overprocessed foods can literally have the nutrition processed right out of the ingredients, leaving you with a tummy full of empty calories with no nutritional value.

High Quality Nutrition

Farm to Pet Chicken Chip being fed to a doodle in a park.
Chicken Chips = High Quality Nutrition

Time for a little healthy pet treat math. Don’t worry – you can’t make a mistake on this one! And it’s an easy equation to remember, whether for pet or people foods:

high quality ingredients + high quality origin + high quality production = high quality nutrition

And it is high quality nutrition that is critical to helping our pups live their best lives. The right amount of nutrients – namely, protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, vitamins and plenty of fresh water – delivered without a bunch of empty calories will keep their systems operating at peak capacity. This includes their cardiovascular, skeletal and digestive systems as well as their skin, coat and eyes.

For even more information on how to decode ingredient lists and packaging claims on your pet’s foods, this helpful guide from the American Kennel Club breaks down the different lingo used in pet food and treat labels even further, from the product name itself to the last ingredient.

It All Adds a Healthy Pet Treat!

This might just make us at Farm to Pet master mathematicians regarding high-quality, healthy pet treats! Since day one, we have been committed to producing high quality products with only high quality ingredients from high quality sources. Four years later and counting, we are proud to have provided high-quality nutrition to tens of thousands of doggos – and a lot of kitties! – across the country.

When it comes to what to feed your pet (including treats!), just be vigilant, communicate with your pet health professional, and do your research – or let us help you with helpful blog articles like this. We are here for YOU!

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