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Building a Healthy Dog Food

Do you wonder, when buying your pet food, whether everything listed is what's in it? Pet food manufacturers are required to list anything, and everything they use to produce the pet foods consumers buy for their pets. That's the law.]

Yet, smoke and mirrors often rule.

According to Pet Food Advisor: "Some of the ingredients are more like additives than actual ingredients." They say that "the further down the list you find an ingredient… the less it contributes to the overall quality of the food. The first five ingredients are the most important."

There are two more things to remember. First, the ingredients are listed in weight order before processing. Most proteins - beef, chicken, fish, lamb - are 70-80% water. So, although the protein is listed before the brown rice or the barley, it will often become a much smaller contributor once it is dehydrated to become kibble. To be sure, check the nutritional analysis on the bag.

Second, by having a large number of different grains, the total carbohydrate load can be highdespite these ingredients being near the end of the list. Beware when you see rice + barley + oats + peas + sorghum + oats + other carbohydrates. When you add them up, they could easily outweight the protein.

In a way, this is deceptive because manufacturers make consumers believe they are getting more than they are, So, with that in mind, what DO you want to see in your pet's food?

Three most important ingredient classes:

  1. Protein: Need to be easy for your pet to digest; these include, but are not limited to beef, chicken, lamb etc.

    1. Very often if your pup has a finicky tummy, you vet might recommend "non-traditional" proteins such as rabbit, salmon, kangaroo. These tend to cause much less upset than the standard chicken, beef and even lamb.

    2. To produce "meal" a manufacturer renders at high tempreature and pressure "clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from whole carcasses and exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, hooves and entrails". The rendering process denatures many nutrients.

  2. Fruits, vegetables and grains: Yes, dogs need the nutrition these plant products provide. These include: pumpkin, apples, peas, blueberries, etc. This also helps the dry food stick together in the little pieces that are perfect for the size of your pet's mouth.

    1. Dogs are actually omnivores, just like we are. Their nutritional requirements are fairly similar to ours.

    2. Cats, however, are obligate carnivores. They will - and should - turn up their kitty noses at carbs. Unlike dogs, they don't even have taste buds to detect "sweet" which we omnivores have so we can detect fruits that are ripe.

  3. Fats: Animals need healthy fats just as humans do. When buying your pet food, you will find this farther down the list than the high proteins, but you still need to make sure these are listed. The items listed provide the Omega-3 and Omega-6 which helps keep your pet healthy; items such as fish oil and flaxseed.

    1. Fromm, Blue Buffalo, Taste of the Wild and Merrick all make a salmon based food. Consider rotating one of these into your pup's dining every few bags.

And, to remind you from our last blog about what you don't want to see in your pet's food, you don't want synthetic preservatives including:

Love, good food, good veterinary care and good exercise make for a healthy pup. If you feel your dog could use more walking time, we would love to help. Please

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