Pet parents are always on the lookout for the best foods when it comes to their fur babies. But, is there a way to find what exactly is best for your dog?
With so many options available these days, pet parents often find themselves overwhelmed when it comes to picking the right food.
Dr Dilip Sonune, the director of veterinary service, Wiggles.in, lists the five most important things to consider when selecting food for your dog(s); read on.
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Read the ingredients on the back
“Most pet food packs list ingredients by weight, starting with the heaviest. For example, if the first ingredient on the dog food pack is fresh chicken, it means it comprises majorly of fresh chicken compared to the other ingredients,” he explains, adding that if the first ingredient is a type of meat, one must know that meat consists 75 per cent of water, according to the FDA.
“Without the water weight, the meat will probably come towards the end of the ingredient list. Some meals like chicken meal, meat meal or bone meal are different, as most of the water has been removed from them.”
He suggests looking for words like ‘complete’ and ‘balanced’.
Know what ‘by-products’ mean
According to the expert, not all by-products are bad for your pet. “Liver is a by-product that is rich in nutrients like vitamin A. But some meat by-products may contain bones, blood, brain, stomach and cleaned intestines, which necessarily do not have any nutritional value. Looking for dog foods with lesser or no by-products is always recommended.” He adds that most dog foods will consist of some by-products as they are hard to avoid.
Be wary of chemical-sounding names
Sonune says the FDA approves of preservatives, artificial flavours and stabilisers if they find them to be safe for the pet. These chemicals are usually added to dog food to increase its shelf life. “Opt for foods that say they are free of preservatives, GMO, and artificial enhancers/flavours and any kind of food fillers.”
Don’t forget to read the nutritional value
The nutritional value section will help you determine if the food meets your dog’s nutritional requirements, he explains. The doctor adds that AAFCO pet food labeling guide provides guidelines to meet a dog’s nutritional requirements, and that if the label says the food is formulated to meet AAFCO requirements, it means it has been tested in feeding trials.
The AAFCO statement should also mention which life stage of the pet is the food appropriate for. “For puppies, look for food suitable for growth or all life stages. For adult dogs, look for food appropriate for adult maintenance or all life stages. There is no AAFCO standard for senior dogs as their nutritional needs depend on health conditions.”
Nutritional analysis section
Find the minimum and maximum amount of nutrients in the nutritional analysis section. A low-fat dog food will often consist of less fat and more fibre that can make a pet feel full without too many calories.
Sonune says that ideally, a dog’s daily diet should consist of 7 per cent crude protein and 5 per cent fat. “Crude protein is a combination of protein molecules divided into smaller units. It is also recommended to look for food with carbohydrates, essential fatty acids and vitamins and minerals as they make for essential ingredients.”
He warns that one must avoid foods that contain “benzaldehyde, FD&C Red No. 3, methyl anthranilate, butylated hydroxyanisole and other artificial ingredients”.