Castor & Pollux News, Pet Health & Safety

Read Any Ingredient Labels Lately?

3 Comments 07 September 2011

As I walked down the aisles of a local food for pets store, browsing at the various options I began to pick up the bags and look at the ingredients. I was more than a little surprised with what I saw. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that working for Castor & Pollux makes me biased when it comes to what food I’d recommend for your pet. But there is one thing you can depend on THAT IS NOT biased – the ingredient label.


It’s easy enough to get distracted by pet food company representatives, a nice-looking display or special discount offers, but be wary. Even if the package claims to use natural ingredients, or have a scientifically proven or holistic formula, it’s not always the best choice. I took a few pictures to show you what I mean. Let’s look at the first 4 ingredients on the labels:


Science Diet – Active Longevity Formula – Mature Adult
First 4 ingredients: whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, animal fat, soybean mill run

All of these ingredients (being the first 4, they likely make up the majority of the food) raise red flags for me. They are depending on corn as a protein source as opposed to a high quality meat like chicken, lamb or turkey. Chicken by-product meal (as opposed to chicken meal) is a big no-no – the majority of the nutritional benefits of chicken have been removed by the time it becomes a “by-product”. Animal fat can come from any animal, you’d think they could at least tell you what kind! And then there’s “soybean mill run” – have you ever heard of that? It’s the by-product of processing soybeans (the soybean hull and fragments of soybeans). Sounds tasty right?


Iams – Healthy Naturals – Adult
First 4 ingredients – Chicken, chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, corn meal

Iams started out good with a named animal protein as the first ingredient, but it goes downhill from there. Chicken by-product meal has no place in a food formula touting to be healthy and natural. Brewers rice is a solid carbohydrate source, but seeing corn meal just makes me unhappy.


Nature’s Recipe – Adult Lamb Meal & Rice
First 4 ingredients: Lamb meal, pearled barley, oatmeal, ground rice

Nature’s Recipe made a good choice with lamb meal as the first ingredient, but it’s the only animal protein in the first four ingredients! With barley, oatmeal and rice following, this formula relies heavily on grain for protein. Where are the fruits and veggies, Nature’s Recipe? The only vegetable I see on that ingredient label is tomato pomace.


So let’s take a look at the ORGANIX and Natural Ultramix. I think you’ll understand why I feel so comfortable recommending our brands.

First 4 ingredients: Organic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Peas

Natural Ultramix – Adult
First 4 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Milo (Sorghum)


A quick reminder, here’s what to look for in choosing a food for your pet:
• A named animal-based protein as the #1 ingredient—like chicken, lamb or turkey
• High-quality protein meals—like chicken, turkey, lamb or salmon meal—to complement the first ingredient
• Quality fiber for a healthy digestive tract
• A named fat source to help promote healthy skin and coat
• Fruits and vegetables that provide vitamins, minerals & antioxidants


In the end, don’t be fooled by fancy marketing. Walk the aisle like I did, and read the back of the bags.


- who has written 29 posts on Castor & Pollux Pet Works Blog.

Mary works for Castor & Pollux Natural PetWorks, heading up the company's social media. She's grown up with pets all her life, the majority of them rescued strays. She has 3 dogs - Merlyn the Scottie, Maverick the Westie, and Monty the Lhasa Apso. She also has 4 goldfish, but they aren't nearly as loud, fun, or messy as her boys! She loves to take her dogs to the Hood River, OR and Manzanita Beach, where they can timidly test out the waters and annoy people on picnic blankets.

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3 Comments so far

  1. Hi Y’all,

    Just stopped from Tanner and allthingsdog. Wanted to read about Organix.

    I’m so full of allergies I’m very limited and eat a Salmon based food. Salmon and potatoes are about the ONLY things I can eat. Even vegies and fruits break me out and cause all kinds of problems. Yep, been the raw route too.

    Guess I’ll stick with the food the vet put me on for now.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  2. mary says:

    Hi there Hawk! Thanks for stopping by! You might be interested in our Natural Ultramix Grain-Free/Polutry-Free formula. Although it’s not a limited ingredient diet, it might work for you! Here are the ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Herring Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Dried Peas, Dried Potato, Tapioca Starch, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Pea Protein Concentrate, Tomato Pomace, Dried Bananas, Natural Salmon Flavor, Ground Whole Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Carrots, Monocalcium Phosphate, Salt, Freeze Dried Peas, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Cranberries, Dried Sweet Potatoes, Fructooligosaccharide, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2 Polyphosphate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Choline Chloride, Rosemary Extract.

  3. Beulah says:

    I have been reading labels and after the last dog I had went through a long list of allergic reactions to food – I’m really paying attention for our new puppy.

    I am in the process of switching her over from Natural Choice because that’s what she had been eating – not a horrible choice, but I felt I could give her better.

    Thank you for the opportunity to truly nourish this dog while we nurture her spirit. I know I feel better when I eat “real” food and don’t see how anything less can be good for our dog.

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