What our dogs eat is a HUGE topic that is often the source of not just knowledge for newbies, but also debate amongst enthusiasts and experts alike. Im not going to get into the heavy of canine nutrition now, but I am going to take a quick moment to hip you to some lingo that every dog owner needs to understand and decipher some of what is going on with these dog food labels.
THEY’RE CATCHING ON
Business is business. Dog food companies exist to make profit off of a need, that need being food for dogs. Now that people are becoming more educated in general about dog nutrition, the marketing reflects that. You will see ads and labeling that boasts about protein levels and other nutritional data. Because people in general are sold on the idea that protein is holy grail of nutrition (for humans as well as dogs), dog food companies are now doing whatever they can to increase the protein levels in their food. They know you are looking at nutrition labels, so they are reacting accordingly.
TIME FOR YOU TO CATCH ON
The way they are able to increase protein levels without changing price too dramatically is by finding alternate sources of protein. After you look at the box that shows the percentages of fat, protein, etc etc you must next go to the part of the label that REALLY matters, and that is the ingredient list.
The ingredients are listed in order of quantity in the food. The ingredient that is found in the highest quantity is listed first in the ingredient list, and so on and so on. These first several ingredients are what you need to be looking at because this will tell you where the nutrients are coming from. Many of the companies are hoping you will simply stop at the percentage label. It’s your job to keep reading and see the source of that protein and fat.
WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE
Generally you will want to see whole food sources in the beginning of the list. Quality is better than quantity. Your dog is not a bodybuilder looking to put on ridiculous amounts of unnatural muscle mass. All you need is to keep the dog fit and healthy and that doesn’t require off the charts protein. Look for items like:
– WHOLE VEGETABLES like sweet potatoes and carrots
Sometimes you will see terms like chicken meal or chicken by-product. That is NOT the same as chicken and the same goes for any other meat or product. Meal is when they grind up parts of the animal and heat it, taking out the moisture and most of the fat. It actually isn’t all that bad in some ways because it concentrates the protein, however there is debate over what the heat does to the bioavailability of that protein. By-products are non heat treated “spare parts” of the food source animal, like feet, heads, ears, etc etc.
STAY AWAY FROM
In order to inflate the nutrition analysis the food companies will load up on protein sources that are cheap but relatively indigestible by your dog.
I found this AWESOME website that you MUST look at. It is a detailed list of what to try to avoid and is great for awareness. You NEED to KNOW what you are feeding your dog.
We are showing increased awareness of what we put in our own bodies. It is about time we show the same respect and awareness to our canine companions.