Pet food, whats really going into your dogs dish
As a dog owner, it is only natural that we all want the best for our best friend. You may have seen some of the recent dog food recalls that occurred after many dogs became seriously ill (many died) after eating certain commercial dog foods.
The process of choosing quality food can be difficult for most people. In fact, it can actually be quite confusing and exhausting! Despite all of the confusion, it is imperative to choose the healthiest food possible for our dogs right?
To make it easier to choose the best and healthiest food for your dog I have found a very good recently published Dog Food Guide.
It’s called The Complete Guide to Your Dog’s Nutritionand discusses the best 12 dog foods to feed your dog.
The publisher, Sharda Baker has been around for a while and is well known on the internet for her top quality dog ebooks and audios. She has put together a thorough and easy to follow resource on dog food and nutrition that lists 12 of the best dog foods for your dog!
Here, for example, is what she has to say about what is really going into your doggie’s food dish:
“The AAFCO sets the standards for pet food safety and nutrition, and the testing done by the AAFCO is used to determine whether or not specific ingredients are acceptable as pet foods. But the AAFCO will rate both low and high quality ingredients as being nutritionally adequate, because there is a demand for pet food in all price ranges. So you need to learn how to read past the AAFCO approval statement on your dog food labels if you want to know what Buster is really consuming.”
Reading a Dog Food Label
The label tells us many important facts and figures that may otherwise dissuade or persuade us from purchasing the food. In short, it is important to read the labels. To actually read that label, and not to just give it a cursory glance, we will have to first know a little something about what can be found there and what it means. The first thing most of us notice on any label is the product name. The product name may also contain primary ingredient names such as “Beef Dog Chow”, or what kind of dog the food is intended for, such as “Puppies, Adult, Lactating”, etc.
If, in the product name, an ingredient is listed, say for example that “Beef Dog Chow”, that beef must be at least 95% of the total weight if there is no water required for processing, and at least 70% when water is included. So, for dry kibble, 95% of that weight needs to contain beef.
When the title contains “dinner, formula, nuggets,” and other similar words, the ingredient named must be at least 25% of the weight. So in a product named Lamb Dinner, 25% of the total weight for the product must be lamb.
But, if only 1/4 of that entire product needs to consist of lamb, the lamb may not (and probably is not!) the main ingredient. Ingredients must be listed in a descending order of weight. So, even though the bag says Lamb Dinner, the lamb may be fourth in order.
Lamb Dinner Ingredients: Corn, meat and bone meal, wheat, lamb. In that Lamb Dinner, the main ingredients are really the corn and meat and bone meal. Not desirable for a healthy meal.
On the other hand if the ingredients listed were Premium Lamb Dinner Ingredients: Lamb, ground rice, ground yellow corn…
This presents a more desirable meal and one that your dog can actually consume and digest properly.
When it comes to the words “flavored” or “flavor” such as Lamb Flavored Nuggets, no exact percentage of the named ingredient, the lamb, needs to be present, but enough of that ingredient needs to present as to be detectable.
Often times, the main ingredients will not be present in the title. In such a case, these foods often include items such as: ground yellow corn, meat byproducts, tallow, and other items that are not particularly digestible for your pet. The actual named ingredient will probably be down the list and make up only a very small part of the product.
Besides naming an ingredient with the product name, other phrases and adjectives are used.
Premium Dog Food, or X Premium and other like titles are making a justified boast, as these products complied with the nutritional standards for a complete and balanced dog food. This is definitely something to take into consideration when shopping.
Natural Dog Food means that there are no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors.
If a product has given the calorie content on the bag, “Premium Beef Dinner: now with lower calorie content,” this is done so voluntarily as a service to the consumer. Because the calorie content of pet foods does not have to be displayed in their labels, however, here is a formula to help you make sure Buster is not eating too much:
Multiply the carbohydrate by 4.2kcal (kilocalories) per gram, the protein by 5.65, and then the fat by 9.4 kcal per gram. If you need to convert the kilocalories to kilojoules (another unit of measurement for energy) simply multiply the total by 4.184. Of course, rounding to the nearest ten might be helpful, as long as you keep in mind that it is an approximation erring on the low side.
Where’s the Fat?
A good way to find the higher quality dog foods by reading the ingredient list is to search for that first source of fat. Everything that is listed before that fat source, and including it, is the main part of the food. Everything else is generally used for flavor, preservatives, vitamins, and minerals.
Food A: Ground yellow corn, meat meal, chicken fat, ground wheat, chicken byproduct meal, dried beet pulp…
Food B: Turkey, chicken, chicken meal, ground brown rice, ground white rice, chicken fat, apples, carrots, sunflower oil…
The importance of finding the source of fat and where it is listed is so you can find ingredients that may or may not be harmful to your pet, such as beet pulp or corn gluten meal.
Learning to read the labels on dog food is the single most important thing you can do if you intend to feed your pet a commercial diet. Buster may be the smartest dog who ever wore a collar, but he cannot read, and he needs to rely on you to keep him healthy.
If what’s in that can or bag does not sound like something you’d want to eat, it is probably not something your dog would eat if there were an alternative. So take the time to learn the language of labels!