How to compare dog and cat food.
When evaluating pet food ingredient listings consider the following factors. The first ingredient by weight is the most important because there is more of that ingredient than any other. All dog foods and cat foods must list the ingredients of their food in order of weight. The first ingredient in many leading brand pet foods is ground yellow corn. Corn has very little nutritional value, and has been linked to allergies in some dogs.
The top ten ingredients usually comprise 80% or more of a dry pet food’s entire formula and give you a real insight into the formula’s overall quality.
Some dog food and cat food brands define their ingredients in several different ways so that the ones of lower quality appear further down the ingredient list. For example, a product list could contain chicken, ground corn, corn gluten, ground wheat and corn bran. And, if you were to group all of the corn ingredients as one, they might far out-weigh the amount of chicken in that food, and be the first listed ingredient. Also be sure to read all of the ingredients at the end of the listing to know if any artificial preservatives and colorings are being used.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to read a label, it’s important to know the specific ingredients that comprise healthy dog and cat foods–as well as the ingredients that should give you pause.
· Real meat, such as chicken, fish or lamb, is a source of high-quality, highly digestible protein. Proteins are essential for growth, maintenance, reproduction, repair and energy.
· Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and oats supply complex carbohydrates to maintain your dog’s or cat’s energy level, and healthy fiber not found in most processed grains.
· Vegetables and fruit provide essential phytonutrients, antioxidants and enzymes, plus natural vitamins, minerals and fibers that promote and maintain health and wellness.
Many leading dog and cat foods contain the ingredients below, which are not of the highest quality.
· Poultry [Chicken] By-Product Meal
· Artificial color and chemical preservatives like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propylene glycol. They provide no nutritional value and have been associated with possible side effects, e.g. cancer.
· Corn, wheat and soy have been linked to allergic reactions in some dogs.
The bottom line on pet food label comparison.
Choosing the best dog or cat food for your beloved dog or cat isn’t easy, especially when there are so many brands touting themselves as being healthy. Next time you’re in the store, take a minute to review the dog or cat food you’re using now. With what you’ve learned about pet food labels, that minute could mean a big difference in the health of your pet, not to mention the cost of your veterinarian bills.
By Sarah Zumhofe