In evaluating a dog or cat food there are a variety of points we look for including the quality of the protein source, amount of grain, the presence of any grain or meat by-products, and any artificial ingredients such as preservatives, colors, or flavors - among other things.
The ingredients listed on a dog or cat food labels must be listed in order of predominance by weight. The ingredient listings are regulated and defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO is not a governmental organization; it is an independent corporation whose stated purpose is to aid industry and government representatives in setting standards for and supervising the animal feed industry. Pet foods are not required to follow AAFCO standards, but most do and will state this on their label.
Here are some things to look for when analyzing a pet food.
Dry Food (kibble)
Keeping these key points in mind will give you a good basis for evaluating pet foods for your companion. Paying a little extra each month for your best friend's food will go a long way to preserving his or her health and saving you lots of money in vet bills in the long run.
Additional advice when feeding processed foods
Rotation: We highly recommend you rotate the brand of food and main protein source in your companion's diet on a regular basis. A more diverse diet is far more likely to provide complete nutrition than the same "formulated" diet fed over and over again. While pet foods may meet the AAFCO standards for "nutrition", that does not mean that any one of them are the ideal food for the life of your companion. Consuming the same food repeatedly over long periods of time can contribute to the development of food sensitivities and allergies, inflammatory bowel disease and other health issues.
Digestive Enzymes: Every dog or cat that is eating a processed food diet should receive digestive enzymes with every meal. This will not only improve digestion and the assimilation of nutrients, but it may also help protect against the development of allergies and immune disorders. Improving digestion and utilization of nutrients can help to prevent and eliminate a host of diet related problems such as eating stools, body odor, excessive shedding, flatulence and itchy skin. Digestive Enzymes are a crucial part of improving digestion and gastrointestinal health. Click to view digestive enzymes for dogs or digestive enzymes for cats. All enzymes that naturally occur in the food are destroyed during the cooking and processing of canned and dry foods.
Essential Fatty Acids: Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are required in the diet; they cannot be produced by the body. Essential fatty acids are necessary for proper formation of cell membranes, are precursors for prostaglandins (hormones involved in pain regulation among other things), aid in proper cardiovascular function and nourish the skin and coat as well as the lining of the digestive tract. In addition, omega 3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA act to reduce inflammatory processes in the body.
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