For pet owners struggling with hundreds of available dog food options, we’ve got your back! When it comes to the health of our pets, we need to be aware of the overwhelming advertising strategies and complex jargon. Explore the guide to Learning About Dog Food Labels and making an informed decision for our beloved pets.
What to Look for in Pet Food Labels?
Before spending a hefty amount on expensive food items, the following points must be checked:
- Brand and product name - Brand name caters to goodwill and helps you check whether it is trustworthy or not. The product name on the other hand hints at the main ingredient and type of snack.
- Product quality and quantity - Check the products for both quality and quantity since they can differ especially for dry and wet food items. The label should mention that the product has undergone laboratory testing. If it is certified by accredited labs using guaranteed analysis, it is safe to use.
- Ingredients & their weightage - It is best to opt for nutritious dog food that contains negligible by-products. It is important to keep an eye on protein, fibre, fat, and water content. Each ingredient must be listed individually by its common name and not as collective ingredients.
- Guaranteed Analysis - Guaranteed analysis helps to know if your dog will get the correct nutrients. Calculate the adjusted protein level by subtracting the moisture percentage from 100, then divide the protein percentage by the result, and multiply it by 100. Now, look for high protein and rich in vitamins and minerals instead of starch foods.
- Certified nutritional adequacy - To identify a product's gestation, growth, and maintenance period, check its nutritional adequacy. Brands provide such information based on the government’s certification that the product is capable to meet the pet’s nutritional requirements.
- Feeding Guide & dosage - A feeding guide not only helps to know how and when to feed your furry friend but also informs you about the ideal storage conditions and environment. Moreover, it informs you about the “best by” date to sustain the safety, freshness, and nutritional value of the food.
Busting the Myths
❌ Myth: Grains are harmful to cats and dogs.
✅ Fact: Most animals can metabolize grains and use them as a source of energy. However, some animals allergic to grains might face difficulty digesting them.
❌ Myth: “Premium” and “gourmet” food items are better for pets.
✅ Fact: Products with such labels might not contain any different or higher-quality ingredients, nor have any higher nutritional standards. It is just a marketing strategy to attract pet parents.
❌ Myth: Cat and dog food is interchangeable.
✅ Fact: Feeding your pet food not intended for its species is not the right choice, Since the nutritional requirements of cats and dogs are different, their food must also be different. Always consult your veterinarian before taking any such decision.
❌ Myth: Products having a “meat meal” should be avoided.
✅ Fact: Meat meal is not as nutritious as the unadulterated protein found in animal sources.
Check out a few more myth-busters:
Identifying Fake Products
⚠️ It is important to differentiate between “Fulfilled by” and “Sold by.” If the product is “fulfilled by” someone else, it might be a duplicate product.
⚠️ If the product listing states that the item has no packaging, it is a warning sign for a fake product.
⚠️ Moreover, irregular brand marks, missing expiry dates, instructions in broken English, or lack of safety seals are some of the red flags to check.
Tips To Buy Dog Food
- Nutritional requirements - Instead of fancy ingredients, go for food items that offer a higher nutritional value. Check for the quality, ratio of the nutrients, and a well-balanced food that can appropriately meet the nutrient requirements of your pet.
- Low-Grain & Low-Carbohydrate Food - Feeding your pet low-grain food keeps allergies away. A low-carb and grain diet maintains your dog's weight. Fewer carbohydrates provide more fibre, promoting the gut microbiome and ensuring a healthy immune system.
- Remember the Age & Breed Factor - The nutritional requirements change with age. Pet food is available for all stages from puppyhood to adulthood. Moreover, it is also important to keep in mind the breed of your pet, since the requirements of smaller breeds are comparatively less as compared to the higher ones.
- Consult A Veterinarian - Clarify all your doubts regarding the best food by consulting a specialist. Help him examine your dog and suggest a diet plan by presenting the necessary details before him.
Ingredients To Avoid
⛔ Corn Syrup and artificial food chemicals can be harmful to your pet. The sweetness of corn syrup and artificial food colourings can lead to side effects.
⛔ BHA, BHT, or Ethoxyquin are the artificial preservatives that must be avoided giving to pets. They might help extend the shelf life but have ill effects on pets.
⛔ Rendered Fat contains toxins, mould, and harmful microorganisms that are a big ‘No’ for any animal. They might enhance the food's flavour but cost your pet's health.
⛔ Propylene Glycol is an artificial additive that is used in dog food. It is known to be toxic to cats and dogs. Besides, ingredients like Melamine, MSG, and other Nitrates must also be avoided.
Ultimately, the dog food you choose must be the best. Do adequate research before choosing it. Your veterinarian can help you narrow down the options and answer all your queries.