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Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 09:54 PM | Updated: 06/18/2013, 09:54:12 PM | (Anonymous) [3 Comments]

In my last blog post, I discussed the need to closely examine commercial dog food labels when deciding which brand and specific product(s) to feed your dog.  My leading recommendation was to select a dog food that contains a protein (meat) as one of its major ingredients.

In today’s post, I’ll elaborate on this topic as well as direct your attention to some other items to look for as you evaluate dog food.   

A meat (protein) such as chicken, beef or lamb should be listed as one of the first ingredients.  This reflects the requirement by pet food manufacturers to list ingredients in order of their weight.  Under most circumstances, products with meat listed in the top 5 are better choices than those that do not.  This is because the first five ingredients typically make up the majority of the product, and when a meat is included, the protein content is apt to be higher. 

Try to avoid products that list corn-based ingredients in the top 5 items.  While grains such as corn and corn meal are often touted by the pet food industry as furnishing essential energy for a dog, this is not completely accurate.  A more precise explanation for their use is that as carbohydrates, they serve an important role in turning the food into kibble form.  As you might also suspect, including carbohydrates such as corn is relatively inexpensive.  They act as filler calories and for the pet food manufacturer hold down their production costs.

Be mindful of the sources of protein listed on the label.  Meats and meat by-products do not necessarily provide the same quality of nutrition.  Some meat by-products include items like hooves, feathers, beaks, eyes, fur, bone and skin (essentially anything remaining from the butchery); while these are sources of protein, they are not good sources of protein for your dog.

Finally, if preservatives are present, look for Vitamin E and/or C as opposed to chemical preservatives.  Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also good ingredients for their anti-inflammatory value and offer protection from kidney and heart disease.  No artificial food coloring should be present.

In closing, what started as visits to local pet supply stores in La Jolla to survey the kinds of dog food currently available for purchase, quickly transformed into a much deeper and meaningful attempt to understand good canine nutrition.  I look forward to conducting my pet care business and using my blog in ways that go beyond standard dog walking and pet sitting topics.  It’s part of my larger effort to be an educational resource and advocate of good pet care practices.

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013, 01:37 PM | Updated: 06/12/2013, 01:37:14 PM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

In my mind, one of the responsibilities that comes with being a pet care professional is taking steps to continuously learn and educate oneself on a broad range of pet care topics.  In preparing for a pet education class I’ll be delivering to elders at a La Jolla retirement community, I delved into the topic of diet and nutrition for dogs.

One point that became readily clear is the need to closely read the nutritional content on all dog food packaging when initially searching for a high quality product for your new puppy or considering switching your adult dog’s current food.  But understand that a cursory look at dog food labels is insufficient; it does not provide a complete picture of an individual product’s nutritional value. 

Dog owners normally have a choice between wet (canned) versus dry food (kibble).  You’ll need to examine the levels of protein, fat and fiber plus the amount of moisture in each product regardless of its wet or dry form.  This information is found in the Guaranteed Analysis section on the food label. 

If you’re comparing a canned food product to a dry food product, initial looks can be deceiving.  While the sheer percentages of crude protein, crude fat and crude fiber might appear to be lower in canned food, this may not in fact be accurate.  To effectively compare the nutritional value of both canned and dry food, you’ll need to convert these items to what is called a “dry matter basis”.  To do this, simply subtract the percentage of moisturereported on the label from 100% (let’s call this result X).  Then divide the percentage of crude protein as reported on the label by this % (X), and do the same for the fat and fiber content – divide the percentage of crude fat by (X) and also divide the percentage of crude fiber by (X).  This will allow you to compare all canned and dry foods on an equivalent basis.  You might be surprised to learn that certain canned foods actually provide more protein than some dry foods even though the numbers reported on the labels would lead you to believe otherwise.

So why is protein so important?  Simply put, dogs require a source of protein (meat) in their diets in order to grow and develop into strong, healthy pets, and maintain this state of well being through adulthood.  Check back with our blog going forward; I am a foodie so there’s more to come on canine nutrition.

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