12 Nov Label Literacy
Reading and understanding pet food labels can help you make better dietary decisions for your dog
Americans are more preoccupied than ever about what they are putting into their bodies. And the Federal Government has taken notice.
In 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published new rules for food package Nutrition Labels. Beginning in 2020, food manufactures will be required to use the new labels which “take into account to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease.” The FDA states that “The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices.”
Unfortunately, your dog can’t read (in spite of what you may think). So, even though the FDA has different nutrition label standards for pet food to ensure they are safe and offer nutritional value, it’s still on you— the pet owner—to carefully read the ingredients and understand the nutritional value of the foods you give your canine.
Nearly all pet foods contain a combination of the following ingredients: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Let’s break down the function and source of each to better understand their nutritional roles and values.
While it’s true that dogs really don’t need carbohydrates to live, since being domesticated the species has adapted pretty well to carbs in their diets. Less expensive food is typically packed with carbs from grain sources like corn, rice, barley, and oats. Pricier foods may include potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, or tapioca as carb sources. Is that good or bad? Your dogs stool is probably the best indicator. If he or she is having tummy troubles, then it may not be a good idea to consider whole grain or no-grain foods.
Fat isn’t necessary bad, but dogs don’t require a lot of it be healthy. Dogs need about 10-20% fat in their diet, mostly for healthy skin and coats. It’s more important to understand where the fat comes from. You can see fat from a variety of sources for including chicken fat, vegetable oils, or pork fat.
As with fats, the key is to understand the source of the protein. Less expensive foods derive protein from animal byproducts: parts of pigs, chickens, turkeys, and cows. These parts are rendered into “meat meal” to pull out the fat and protein, which is infused into kibble food. Grains like soy also provide protein, but in most cases not the same level of amino acids as meat.
Vitamins & Minerals
Just like us humans, dogs need vitamins and minerals to maintain digestive, muscle and bone, immune, and nervous system health. The vitamins and minerals they require are: Vitamins A, D, K, E, and C; minerals sodium, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. Many pet food labels will identify the sources of these vitamins and minerals. Depending on the breed of your dog, you may need to perform more research to understand the value of these sources.
When examining a label, take note of the Guaranteed Analysis. This reports the minimum percentages of protein and fat in the food, as well as the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture. Two points of consideration. First, these shouldn’t be confused with daily allowance (as in people food). Second, when comparing the nutrient levels of dry versus canned, make sure to consider the moisture basis. Since wet foods have much higher levels of moisture, their percentages will be look lower.
If you’re really concerned about added ingredients, it makes sense to consider simpler, more natural pet food options. NuturPak Pet’s wet foods come packed with probiotics, omega fatty acids, and protein. NaturPak Pet is focused on the development and manufacture of complete and balanced wet pet food products, using fresh and whole food ingredients for dogs. For more information on the benefits of NaturPak Pet food, contact a representative today.