In our first segment on dog nutrition, we talked about the essential nutrients you want to ensure are part of your dog's daily diet. Though it is important to read the labels on the packaging of the food you decide to use, you should realize that the list of ingredients won’t tell you everything about the contents inside the bag.
What you won’t see on the list of ingredients are possible contaminants such as salmonella, pesticides, herbicides, and even ethoxyquin, which is commonly used to preserve fish meal products before the company buys it.
Understanding Protein Content:
The label may claim high quality protein, but what does that mean? Understanding the difference between the various types of protein that could be present in your pets’ food is critical. There is a significant difference in the nutritional value between a “meat” meal and a “meat” or “animal” by-product. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to tell from the label what percentage of the protein meal actually consists of meat versus bone meal, ligaments and tendons.
Cooking times and temperatures are a critical component of creating a nutritious food for your pet. With many of the commercial brand foods, where food is produced in mass quantities, as much as 50% of the nutrients and vitamins are lost before the food is even packaged. While the initial ingredients procured may contain key nutrients, many of them are lost due to over processing and extended storage length.
Storage and Shelf-Life:
While the label may contain an extensive list of key nutrients and essential vitamins, what it doesn’t tell you is how long the food has been sitting in a warehouse before you finally feed it to your pet. Many large market products have been stored in warehouses for extended periods of time before it enters your home. Over time, vitamins and minerals begin to deteriorate, food can become stale, and any probiotics that are sensitive to air and temperature changes will die off and become ineffective at promoting immunity health.
Of course it is important to read the labels and list of ingredients noted on the packaging of your pets’ food. This is the first step in becoming an educated pet-parent when it comes to pet nutrition. However, don’t fall victim to the labeling gimmicks. If you want to take the extra step to ensure that the food you choose is providing the best nutrition for your pet, contact the company directly and ask them about their processing procedures, storage guidelines, and their guiding principles for testing the nutritional value of the finished product. Any company that truly cares about the health and well-being of your pet will take the time to talk to you about the steps they are taking to ensure your pet leads a long, healthy life.