¿Am I giving my pet good food?
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You’ve certainly thought about it after hearing an advert for pet food, or speaking to your friends, and you’ve wondered: Am I feeding my pet well?
These days there are many different brands and types of food on the market. And it isn’t as simple as the most expensive ones are the best. To understand the quality of a food we have to look at the ingredients that make it up.
The ingredients list goes from largest to smallest quantity so it is best that the first ingredient is meat. The first thing you should bear in mind to know if a food is good quality is the quality of it’s protein, which should be clearly specified, for example, fresh chicken meat, dehydrated beef, etc… This indicates that the food is made with animal protein, and not with mixed, derived or meats of dubious origin. It is best to avoid foods which are made with protein in flour form, such as chicken flour; which don’t specify the type of meat, only stating “animal meat”; or which contain protein in the form of “subproducts”.
Another of the primary ingredients are grains (rice, oats, wheat, corn, rye, etc…). These provide mostly carbohydrates and fibre but also protein, unsaturated fats, vitamins such as E and some of the B complex, minerals like calcium and iron, antioxidants… Carbohydrates allow us to obtain energy, which is essential to perform all of our functions. Additionally, the fibre present in grains helps with the correct functioning of our digestive tract and in the maintenance and care of the intestinal flora.
In grain free diets, the carbohydrates originate from potato, sweet potato or other tubers and legumes.
Other ingredientes which we should find are fruits, vegetables, vitamins, minerals and natural preservatives. A good quality food won’t contain artificial preservatives as with long term consumption they can carry a high risk of toxicity. Natural preservatives are not only considered safe, they also tend to be made from antioxidants such as vitamin C o E.
Now you have all of the tools you need to know the quality of the food your pet eats.
What are subproducts?
Subproducts are the remains of primary meat production which are not destined to human consumption. These remains normally include bones, guts, beaks, wings, etc… and tend to be of low quality, nutritional value and digestibility. As such, your pet needs to eat much more to obtain the required about of nutrition.
Is fresh meat better?
Fresh meat is meat that has not been dehydrated, i.e. raw meat. We must bear in mind that fresh meat contains a percentage of water which when cooked and dried is lost. This means that the real amount of meat in the final product is lower than that which is shown on the ingredientes. This is why, on many occasions products are complemented with subproduct flour to achieve the desired percentage.
What is starch used for?
To be able to make the biscuits for dry food the presence of starch is necessary (a carbohydrate). Dogs posess more genes associated to the digestion of starch than their ancestor the wolf, as is reflected in the numerous studies which have been performed in recent times, with standout onces being the study by Laura R. Botigué et. al. about the evolution and domestication of the dog; the one published in the Royal Society by Moragen Ollivier et. al. which discusses the genetic adaptations to the digestion of starch; and the study run by Taylor Reiten et. al.