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The 10 Commandments of Choosing Healthy Pet Food
The food our dogs eat have a direct bearing on health and quality of life. It’s important to know where to find and how to understand the information that reveals the true nature of a food.
Advertising and marketing claims can easily distract us from useful facts. It’s not difficult to understand what to ignore and what to rely upon when looking at pet food.
2. Be not deceived by false images, nor tempting phrases, rather seek thine enlightenment from the Ingredients List
The pictures, names and phrases on a food bag are meant to appeal to our emotions. They bear little, if any, resemblance to what is actually is used to make the food.
Do not be deceived by the way a food is presented or otherwise marketed. Your first impression of a food should come from understanding what you see on the Ingredients List.
The first 6 ingredients make up the majority of the food by weight. When you see fresh meats listed in the first 6 ingredients, remember that the weight of fresh meat can be up to 80% water.
Fresh meat starting the list is good, but only when more identifiable protein(s) appear in those first 6 ingredients. If not, you may be buying more cereal than meat.
It’s easy to spot whole ingredients. They are raised on a farm, grown in a field, and have recognizable names. They are different from fragmented ingredients which usually have modifiers as part of their name.
Whole ingredients on an Ingredient List allow us to better understand the true makeup of the food. It also offers more complete nutrition from an ingredient, rather than from a portion of its parts.
Ingredients that appear in different ways usually represent “fragments.” Fragmented ingredients are smaller pieces of a whole ingredient.
Ingredients like rice bran, rice flour, and white rice are all fragments of whole brown rice. Fragments can be used to manipulate the Ingredient List to make it appear more attractive
Generic proteins can vary widely in consistency of both quality and content. “Meat” and “Poultry” are two examples of generic proteins. As an ingredient, Meat can beef, pork, lamb, bison and other unspecified meats. Poultry can include chicken, turkey, duck or other fowl.
These ingredients indicate low-quality, inexpensive protein sources in a food. You are assured of more consistency when your protein source is named, not generic.
Generic by-products can also vary widely in consistency of quality and content. While by-products have often been viewed as low-quality, this is not always the case.
When the source and type of a by-product is known, they can represent good quality protein. Named organ meats, like liver, heart, and kidney, when sourced from organic or reliable suppliers, are in an entirely different category than generic by-products.
The feeding guidelines are an easy way to determine the digestibility of a food. The less food you have to feed to meet the daily nutritional requirements, the more digestible it will be.
Better quality ingredients usually translate to better digestibility. A more digestible food will cost less to feed over time. Feeding Guidelines help to reveal the true cost and quality of a food.
A troubling trend in pet food is the downsizing of bag weights, without changing the size of the bag itself. Large pet food bags have steadily been reduced from 40 pounds a few years ago to 26 pounds or less today. The change happened gradually- 40 became 38, which became 35 or 33, then 30, then 28 and now 26.
With each reduction in weight, the price remained fairly stable. So when you compare two “large” bags of different foods, be sure you are comparing the same bag weights.
Remember the price paid for a bag of food does not necessarily reflect the true cost of feeding the food.
An inexpensive bag of food may save you money at the time of purchase, but not over time. Since most inexpensive foods are less digestible than spendier alternatives, you will feed more of an inexpensive food. The bag will disappear more quickly, and you’ll be purchasing bags more frequently.
Over time, multiple purchases of an inexpensive food will cost more than fewer purchases of a more expensive option. Remember the 8th commandment. Feeding guidelines will reveal the true cost of that “cheap” food.
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