We want to give our pets perfect nutrition, but with so many choices, how do we separate the best from the others?
Do words like “premium” and “gourmet” actually mean anything? Are foods labeled “natural” and “organic” actually healthier? The reality is, in regards to pet food, several terms don’t have any standard definition or regulatory meaning. There is nobody perfect source for comparing kibbles and chows. There is, however, some basic information that you should use to gauge that which you feed your four-legged family members.
Looking at the food label
Pet food labels have two basic parts: the principal display panel and the information panel. The initial occupies a lot of the packaging – it offers the brand and name of the food, and descriptive terms and images. But the main part of the label is the information panel, that is the parallel of an individual nutritional information label. It offers the guaranteed analysis, ingredient list, feeding guidelines and nutritional adequacy statement.
You won’t find as much detail here as on human foods, nevertheless the nutritional information does give minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, and maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. “Crude” describes the method of measuring that is used, not the caliber of the protein, fat or fiber. These percentages are on “as fed” basis, so foods that have more water (canned foods) appear to have less protein than foods with less water (dry foods) – but that’s not usually the case.
Ingredients in a dog food must certanly be listed on the label in descending order by weight. One detail to consider, though, is that the weight includes the moisture in the ingredient, shop cat so certain ingredients may appear higher on the list even though lower – moisture ingredients contribute more actual nutrients. The order isn’t by nutritional value, but by weight.
For example, the first ingredient on a tag might be “chicken”, which weighs a lot more than other individual ingredients because it could contain 70% water. But wheat might be within various forms which are listed as individual ingredients, such as for instance “wheat flour”, “ground wheat” and “wheat middling “.Thus, the dietary plan could possibly contain more wheat than chicken. Just because a protein source is listed first doesn’t mean the dietary plan is full of protein.
Feeding guidelines are also on the information panel of the label. Like human food labels, pet food labels give broad feeding guidelines. Pet food guidelines derive from average intake for several dogs or cats. But a pet’s nutritional requirements may differ according to his age, breed, bodyweight, genetics, activity level and even the climate he lives in. So, these guidelines are a kick off point, but may require adjusting for the particular furry friend. If your pet starts gaining weight, you may want to feed her less, and vice versa.
Let’s look at the nutritional adequacy statement, developed by an advisory organization that standardizes pet food nutrient contents called the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This statement assures pet parents that after your pet food is fed as the sole supply of nutrition, it meets or exceeds nutritional requirements for a pet at one or more life stages. However, the AAFCO recognizes only “adult maintenance” and “reproduction” (which includes pregnancy, lactation and growth) as life stages; or, if the dietary plan meets both, “all life stages “.
The nutritional adequacy statement also shows how manufacturers have met the AAFCO’s standards, either by calculations or by feeding trials. Calculations estimate the amount of nutrients in a dog food either on the basis of the common nutrient content of its ingredients, or on results from laboratory testing. This kind of food will carry a statement like: “Brand A is formulated to meet up the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Food Nutrient Profiles for (stated life stages) “.
Feeding trials signify that producer has tested the item by feeding it to dogs or cats under specific guidelines. The products carry a statement such as for instance: ” Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Brand A provides complete and balanced nutrition for “.
The ingredient panels on pet food labels contain lots of information for pet parents to digest, but there’s still more to savor, including getting a taste for the terms on the principal display part of these labels. For instance, a dog food can claim to be “light/lite” or “lean” as long as it meets the AAFCO’s standard definitions for these terms, which differ for cat and dog food and be determined by the dietary moisture content.
“Less calories” and “reduced calories” mean only that the item has fewer calories than another product, and exactly the same goes for “less fat” or “reduced fat.” Pet food labels aren’t usually required to provide calorie content.
Some pet parents try to eat an organic diet, and often they want their pets to eat like that, too. Bear in mind, though, that even though a dog food is “natural” or “organic” it always contains added synthetically-produced vitamins and minerals. Currently, you will find no studies showing that natural or organic foods provide any health benefits over conventionally manufactured processed family pet foods.
Recently, there has been a trend for feeding “biologically appropriate raw food” (also known as BARF) and “grain free” pet food.
Barf diets have been reported to have many health benefits over conventionally processed foods, such as for instance being easier for pets to digest. While no scientific publications have documented the health advantages of raw diets, they’ve not been proven to be detrimental, either. When feeding any raw food, there’s always concern about the danger of bacterial infection, such as for instance Salmonella, but needless to say, conventional pet foods have been recalled for contamination.
Proponents of “grain-free” diets claim they’ve many health benefits for pets, including increased digestibility and decreased allergens. However in fact, dogs and cats easily digest carbohydrates from grains or vegetable sources. Food allergies tend to be blamed on the grains in the dietary plan, but this is not centered on scientific data either, and most food allergies might be due to chemical reactions involving the protein and carbohydrate ingredients in a diet.