When it comes to nutrition, dogs are a lot like people. Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can eat a variety of foods to stay healthy. Meats, vegetables and grains can all be a part of a dog’s diet. Dogs do need balanced diets that fuel their activities but not put them at risk for obesity and other diseases related to overindulgence. So, how do you pick the right food? Nutrition labels can be confusing and what do they really mean?
First of all, the ingredients are listed in order of weight. Because meats have a high water content, they can weigh more than dry ingredients such as grains, meals and vitamins, they are often listed first. The guaranteed analysis refers to minimum or maximum nutritional quantities of key nutrients within the package of food. Pet food sold in Canada is subject to several Canadian and international regulations. Members of the Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) also manufacture to the nutritional standards set out by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This group establishes the ingredients that can be used in pet food.
So, what about the ingredients? Well, whole meats are obvious, but what about by-products? Animal by-products are what is left of a slaughtered animal after the edible parts have been removed. These parts include feet, backs livers, lungs and kidneys. A lot of what people don’t eat is very healthy for dogs. These parts are not unsafe or unclean. These by-products can be used either in canned pet foods or they can be made into meal by a process called rendering. The by-products are cooked so the water is removed, the fat is skimmed away and the residue is then baked. This results in a concentrated protein powder known as by-product meal. The digestibility, biological value and amino acid content of this by-product meal is comparable to their “regular” meat counterparts.
But what about grains? Aren’t dogs carnivores? Actually grains can be a healthy part of any cat or dogs’ diets. Properly processed, corn can be a very effective and digestible carbohydrate source. Corn gluten meal and wheat gluten are good sources of highly digestible protein and wheat gluten contains amino acids that support gastrointestinal health.
Extensive research goes into the development of pet food. Pet food manufacturers are always working to increase their knowledge of pet nutrition, ensuring it is palatable, healthy and completely meets the nutritional requirements for your pet. Commercially-prepared pet foods often represent the safest and most balanced food. choice for pets.