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Friday, April 2nd 2010

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How to Choose the Right Pet Food

Author: Wiki Pet

Pet Food and Nutrition Articles
Choose the best food for your dog
There are many different pet foods available today. Within these offerings, the quality of manufacture and ingredients vary drastically depending on what level of food you choose to buy. Tricky (and sometimes downright misleading) advertising shows us wonderful top grade slices of beef and chicken falling ever so gracefully into the dog bowl along with fresh vegetables and whole kernel corn.

Did you know that a large number of dogs have a corn allergy and this corn is actually only used as a filler in the food to make pets feel more full?

With marketing like this, how could you choose any other food? This article's goal is to provide you with some basic tools to help guide your next dog food purchase.

Myth #1: My dog should never change his food.


This is a long standing belief in the consumer pet world, originating from pet food manufacturers attempting to ensure brand loyalty. Contrary to this myth however, studies show that it is actually beneficial for dogs to experience various proteins through their regular feeding schedule. Wild dogs (wolves) would eat any protein source they were able to catch in the wild. This would frequently change from feeding to feeding, and is the way dog's bodies had been conditioned for many hundreds of years.

The next time you are shopping for dog food, look for an alternative protein source such as fish. Fish is relatively hypoallergenic and dogs who have never changed foods seem to tolerate this change well. If you have had your pet on a single brand, single protein diet for a long term (6 or more months), expect to see some loose stool for a few days following the change. Mix 50 % of the new food with 50% of the old food for 5 days, or until the old food runs out. This will help reduce the inevitable loose stools that accompany this protein change. Companies such as Eagle Pack offer a digestive enzyme powder that does a very good job of reducing loose stool in dogs due to a change in diet. This is, however only an assistance in the transition and not meant to be a permanent part of the pet's diet. If your pet has chronically loose or bloody stools, you should collect a sample for your vet to examine.

Myth #2: I can buy the best dog food for my dog in a regular store.


While regular grocery stores offer many familiar brands, these may not always be the best choices for your pet's long term health. Many foods found in these stores contain questionable ingredients and come from manufacturing plants whose hygiene standards may be highly suspect at best.

I don't want that! What should I look for in my pet food?


Before we offer some suggestions, we will examine a popular dog food label and step through each significant ingredient.

Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), rice flour, beef, soy flour, sugar, propylene glycol, meat and bone meal, tricalcium phosphate, phosphoric acid, salt, water, animal digest, sorbic acid (a preservative), potassium chloride, dried carrots, dried peas, calcium propionate (a preservative), L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2), DL-Methionine, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.

At first glance, this food seems to have a wonderful collection of ingredients. It is one of the most colorful bags on the shelf with images of meats and vegetables that look good enough to eat! Here are the ingredients step-by-step - this is not a store brand or no-name food, and is by no means the bottom of the line food available today.
  1. Ground Yellow Corn - the first ingredient in this food is actually something that provides no nutritional benefit to your dog. Corn is also one of the most common food allergies found in dogs.
  2. Chicken by-product Meal - Chicken by-product meal consists of the dry, ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines - exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
  3. Corn gluten meal - More corn! Corn gluten meal is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. This product is also used to make natural fertilizer.
  4. Whole wheat flour - A large percentage of dogs show signs of a wheat allergy - Wheat flour consists principally of the soft, finely ground and bolted meal obtained from milling wheat (containing essentially the starch and gluten of the endosperm) together with fine particles of wheat bran, wheat germ, and the offal from the tail of the mill.
  5. Animal digest - This is ingredient number 12 and the last of major concern. Animal digest is a material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and un-decomposed animal tissue. The animal tissues used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth, hooves and feathers, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice and shall be suitable for animal feed. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind or flavor(s), it must correspond thereto.


I hope you haven't lost your appetite all together! Some of the ingredients found in this highly marketed food are not all together savory and conducive to the best health of your pet. We will compare these ingredients to the initial 5 ingredients of a top of the line, all natural, human grade food available at specialty stores. It should be noted that these foods are not in the same price range, but for the smaller breeds the premium foods will cost $15-20.00 per month.
  1. Turkey - Ingredient number one is a human grade protein source. Turkey is the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey or a combination of thereof - exclusive of (without) feathers, heads, feet, and entrails. Turkey is an excellent source of highly digestible protein.
  2. Chicken - The second ingredient in this food is another human grade protein source. Chicken is the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken - exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails. Chicken is an excellent source of protein.
  3. Chicken Meal - Chicken meal is the dry rendered (cooked down) product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts of whole carcasses of chicken -- exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, or entrails.
  4. Barley - Barley is a major food and animal feed crop, a member of the grass family Poaceae. Ground barley is the entire barley kernel, ground or chopped. Ground Barley is a good quality source of carbohydrates. If the entire barley kernel is used, it contributes additional protein, barley oil, bran, vitamins and minerals to the diet.
  5. Brown Rice - A source of nutritionally beneficial carbohydrates (and alternative to corn). The whole rice kernel containing the nutrient-rich bran with only the rice hull removed. Brown Rice is rich in numerous nutrients like B-vitamins, magnesium, and fatty acids.


As you can see from the comparison of these two brands, the nutritional value of the premium food far exceeds that of the regular store brand. Just as with humans, with great food your pet may experience a higher quality of life with less frequent visits to the vet. Your budget may not allow you to go for the top of the line food mentioned in this article, but it would be worthwhile for you to find a median between the two options presented to you here.

What to look for:


Look for a food that has all natural ingredients. This is a good baseline for your pet food search. While this designation helps you to identify better brands, it does not guarantee quality. When reading labels, be sure to look at the ingredients and the claims as literal terms. Meat & bone meal, for instance (a common ingredient in a long standing and popular dog food) is a highly suspect ingredient. What exactly is the "meat" anyway? "Natural Ingredients" means only that there are no synthetics in the product and this does not guarantee quality.

Look for a food that contains a well defined protein source (chicken, turkey, beef, salmon) as the first ingredient. This is the most significant ingredient in the food and will provide a great base for your pet's nutritional needs.

Conclusion


We hope you have picked up some pointers that will help you get your pets diet on the right track. If you feel like making the change to a better brand dog food, locate specialty pet stores in your area and read over some labels for yourself. Hey, just for kicks, cut out the label from your current pet food bag and bring it with you for a comparison.

If you are unsure of which are specialty pet stores, just call around to a few stores and ask what brands of dog food they carry. When you start to hear a bunch of brands that you have never heard of before, you are on the right track! If you prefer a more direct approach, look for brands such as Innova (and EVO), Eagle Pack Holistic, Canidae, Artemis, and many others. Stay tuned for more articles regarding pet nutrition in the near future!

Tagged: High End Pet Food, Dog, Cat, Food, How To Choose A Pet Food

 

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Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Innova Pet Foods

Website: http://www.naturapet.com

Purina Beneful

Publisher: Website

Website: http://www.Beneful.com

 

2 Comments For "How to Choose the Right Pet Food"

Bill Krom

Bill Krom

I've tried almost every premium food out there, and i have found the best results with 2 brands in particular, Innova (especially the EVO) and Eagle Pack Holistic Select. I think Eagle Pack changed the name to "Holistic Select" and no longer puts their name on the bags though. They are not cheap, but the physical improvements in the dog are well worth it. The only trips i take to the vet are for vaccinations!!

May 18, 2010 at 9:22PM  Sign In or Join to Comment

Guest

Guest

DoggieDocs is a fun site where you can find everything about dogs... and some for the owners too!

February 21, 2012 at 12:33AM  Sign In or Join to Comment