Grain Free & Salt & Ash Content Questions

Discuss ways to improve the quality of your dog's life and longevity through proper nutrition; a place for all of your questions and answers about feeding your pooch!

Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times. Non-informative posts criticizing a particular brand or another poster’s choice of food are not allowed in this Forum. References to any brand of food as "junk," "garbage," or other harsh names will be removed.


I'm working on- three toys!
Barked: Tue Oct 8, '13 1:39pm PST 
I am beginning to think that grain free food is not a great idea for Joey, and that perhaps he would do better with something with a little grain instead of all the carbs (peas and whatnot) that is usually in grain-free foods. However, I'm not clear as to whether carbs are bad for dogs, or just that they're hard to digest, and therefore there is little nutritional value to be derived. In other words, does that rice that passes through him simply pass through him and that's the end of it (no ill effects, but no benefits, either) or are there ill effects from feeding, say, 1/5 rice? He may have food allergies, so I started feeding him grain free (currently Wellness Core Ocean kibble, plus about a 1/3 canned fish food, which is not entirely grain-free). While he doesn't have noticeable gas, I sometimes think he gets gassy, or else has a stomach ache, as he gulps more than usual. Sunday he had a really bad "attack" and since then, I've been adding some rice to each meal to try to give him stomach a little calming down.

Another question I have is this: I'm not crazy about the addition of salt to dog food, but other than seeing "salt" in the ingredients list, how can you determine if salt has been added? Is sodium selenite salt, or what is that ingredient?

Some people are concerned with ash content of dog food, but how can you tell what it is? I seldom see ash content listed on dog food labels.

Thanks if you can help me!

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Tue Oct 8, '13 3:15pm PST 
Carbs provide calories and kibbles have to have them to bind the extruded material together. I am sure different dogs tolerate different carbs better than others. If you don't like the way your dog is on the kibble now then try something else next time you buy dog food. Remember gulping and being uncomfortable can be an emergency bloat situation, I sure wouldn't want to be seeing that all the time. Is he eating fast, it could be simple as that.

If you add together the protein, fat, moisture, fiber and all the minerals or ash together then subtract from 100 you get a rough estimate of how many carbs are in a given food. Fiber is a carb but isn't providing starches or sugar so not usually included in this rough calculation.

You may not like seeing salt in the food but sodium and chloride are essential nutrients - dogs must have some. Meat has adequate amounts but plants are low in sodium and chloride so sometimes actual salt is needed to balance the diet. The sodium selenite you see is mostly there as a source of selenium, another essential nutrient.

Some dog food companies list every single essential nutrient and a few even include the amount of the essential fatty acids that make up the fat and the amino acids that make up the protein in the food. If you add up all the mineral content then that is approximately the ash content of the food. Ash is what is left over when the food is burned and is mostly minerals. The Honest Kitchen, Orijen, Fromm's have pretty good nutrient analysis online.

You don't really need to know the ash content if the calcium level is listed. I know 38 pound Max needs about 1 gram of calcium and about 600 calories a day. If a kibble is about 400 calories per 100 grams of food he might need 150 grams of food a day and if that food had 1% calcium then he would be getting 150% of his requirement, not too bad. If a food was lower in calories then he might be getting a lot more calcium than I would like him to have with that same 1% calcium. You will note that most kibbles have more like 1.2-2 grams of calcium in them.

The reason calcium is so important is while it is an essential nutrient it does cause trouble fed to excess. Puppies cannot excrete excessive amounts of it and too much calcium can cause the bones to grow too fast which can cause orthopedic problems later in life. Too much calcium binds zinc which might cause skin problems. I just want my dog to eat about the right amount of every essential nutrient not 50% or 200%.

I'm working on- three toys!
Barked: Wed Oct 9, '13 6:21am PST 
Thanks, Maxwell. I will re-read this response later to make sure I understand it, and look at the foods I have. I also have some other questions (including where to find the Purdue study, which I posed in another post under the Health section) and will come back here this afternoon for that.


Barked: Sun Nov 10, '13 1:41am PST 
1. Carbs are bad for dogs?

IMO no. I remember reading an article before that said that while carbs aren’t bad for dogs, they aren’t necessarily beneficial either, in the sense that dogs don’t NEED carbs as we humans do.

If you feed carbs to your dog (in moderate amounts, ofc), then it’ll probably give him that boost of energy, but it’s not essential.

So, yeah, you’re right in saying that there’s little nutritional value to be derived - more like there’s none. wink

And it doesn’t help that most dog food nowadays actually contain a huge percentage of carbs in the food (easy to produce, abundant, makes your dog feel full, etc. - all the stuff that make [the bad] dog food companies class as an “ideal” component).

2. How to spot salt

I think there’s a sodium label in the food label?

Sodium selenite - that points more to the selenium levels in the dog food, which, according to AAFCO, shouldn’t exceed 2 mg / kg (0.11 mg / kg is recommended).

Overdose = toxic

3.Ash content?

Ash content is the stuff that gets left behind after food is burnt, and the reason it’s useful is because ash is primarily made-up of minerals (ca, zn, cu, etc.) and that figure gives you a good idea of the aggregate mineral content in the dog food.

Currently, it’s somewhere around 7% for most dog foods.

Hope that helps some! big grin


Black dogs rock!
Barked: Sun Nov 10, '13 4:40am PST