Here is a description of various ingredients that you might see in many pet foods. This is from AAFCO….. You may be surprised!
Meat is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that part which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart or in the esophagus; It shall be suitable for animal food.
Meat Meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind, composition or origin it must correspond thereto., ie. Chicken meal, duck meal, lamb meal, etc.
And what you find in many other brands of pet foods carried by competitors:
Poultry By-Product Meal consists of the ground, rendered clean parts of the carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices
Corn distillers’ grains – the residual grains or byproduct that contain the nutrients remaining after the starch from corn has been fermented to alcohol.
Animal Digest – material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed 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.
Brewer’s Rice – the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer and may contain pulverized dried spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent.
Corn Gluten Meal – 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.
Dried Animal Digest – dried material resulting from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue. The animal tissue 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.
Poultry Digest – material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed poultry tissue.
Our last discussion related to crude protein and the difference in quality of proteins that can both produce the same result on the crude protein level. So the quality of those protein producing ingredients in the key. We have to have appropriate levels of various amino acids (building blocks of proteins) in order to meet the needs of your dog or cat. An essential amino acid MUST be supplied by the diet. A non-essential amino acid can be synthesized by the animal assuming sufficient “build material” is available in the diet. There are 10 essential amino acids for dogs and 11 for cats (they also need taurine). Since levels of amino acids are not typically listed (not required) on the label we focus on the quality of the ingredients used to make sure they are provided. So let’s move on the ingredient panel and look at those ingredients companies use to provide protein/amino acids:
Quality ingredients: whole meats….. duck, turkey, chicken, salmon, lamb, whitefish, bison, beef, pork….basically any decent quality meat. The one somewhat deceiving thing is that a meat may be listed first on the label but that is based on the water it contains also….once it’s incorporated in the diet it may not contribute nearly as much as it appears.
Typically we then move on to quality meat meals…. Chicken meal, lamb meal, duck meal, salmon meal, turkey meal, bison meal, pork meal, anchovy & sardine meal, whitefish meal, etc. Note, that the terms used here do not include by-product in the name. These are pure meat meals. Excellent quality protein products.
The quality foods we carry end it here.
Many competitor labels however move on to various other by-products mostly as an attempt to cheapen the diet because they cost considerably less than high quality meat meals. Various possible ingredients on the label might include:
Poultry by-product meal (and other species by-product meals, meat meal, meat and bone meal, chicken liver flavor, animal digest, beef and bone meal, pork and bone meal, chicken by-product meal, hydrolyzed meals (code word for acid treated feathers, etc.) etc.
Beyond that then we move into grains/grain by-products that are terrible sources of amino acids for your pets. They include such things as:
Ground whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, soybean meal* , ground whole grain wheat, brewers rice, distillers grains, whole wheat flour, soy flour, wheat middlings just to name a few.
*Soybean meal is technically from an oilseed and not a grain. It is commonly lumped into the same category, however, as there have been reported cases of gastrointestinal distress in some dogs fed soybean meal based foods.
This does not consider white or brown rice or pearled barley used as a carbohydrate to form a kibble. Our foods do not use these as a major protein source.
Please, remember you are feeding for amino acids which require a high quality protein source on the ingredient panel. Grab your bag of Iams, Science Diet, Purina, Kibbles n Bits, Pedigree, Eukanuba, Ol’Roy, Nutro, 4-Health, Beneful, Bil-Jac, Hills Prescription Diet, Newmans, PMI Nutrition, Royal Canin, Sportmix, etc and bring it in to compare to one of our brand labels. You may be shocked. Or view ours on-line. And then you have the Blue Buffalo story where the people manufacturing their food under a contract for them was using the lesser ingredients and just not putting them on the label……
So what is crude protein? How much crude protein does my dog or cat need in their diet?
Crude protein is a calculated value based on a laboratory evaluation of the nitrogen level in the food ingredients. Protein can be derived from any number of animal and/or non-animal sources. A pet food containing many animal and non-animal by-products can contain more crude protein than one containing pure animal food products. So the crude protein level alone can be very deceiving. Protein is of course the single most expensive major ingredient in any food. Many big box manufacturers will utilize least cost formulation programs and grains and grain by-products to meet the crude protein requirements they have established for their foods. These will cheapen the cost. But they will not necessarily provide the appropriate amino acid mix for your pet’s best health. Pets require amino acids in the right amounts and proportions….not crude protein per se. Corn gluten meal is 60% protein and heavy use in pet food will raise the crude protein label. But the amino acid profile is not favorable for growing pets. So while the crude protein guarantee is an important (and legal) piece of information to have for your pets diet we have to go beyond that % number and look at the ingredient panel to get a better handle on the quality of the food.
As to the actual level of crude protein needed by your pet that will vary considerably based on the ingredient composition (ie., amino acid profile) and the activity/growth level of your pet. We have products ranging from the lower 20’s to the upper 30’s and they are all appropriate levels when fed to the appropriate age/developmental stage/activity level, etc. of your dog or cat.
One other major point…. Canned pet food is labeled on an “as is” basis so the % crude protein will be considerably lower than dry kibble which is calculated at 10% moisture.
More on product labeling later along with specific ingredients to be wary of. It can be a swamp with some deep holes in it to navigate!
Here is a typical Fromm label:
A grain-free entrée of duck, turkey, quail, and pheasant with farm-fresh fruits & vegetables
Duck, Duck Meal, Peas, Turkey,Potatoes, Pea Protein, Dried Tomato Pomace, Pea Flour, Dried Whole Egg,Quail, Chicken Meal, Chicken Fat,Salmon Oil, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken,Pheasant, Cheese, Flaxseed, Carrots,Broccoli, Cauliflower, Apples, Celery,Parsley, Lettuce, Spinach, Chicken Cartilage, Potassium Chloride,Blueberries, Cranberries, Salt, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract,Alfalfa Sprouts, Sodium Selenite, Folic Acid, Taurine, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Vitamins, Minerals,Probiotics.
- Crude Protein 29%MIN
- Crude Fat 17%MIN
- Crude Fiber 3.5%MAX
- Moisture 10%MAX
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids 0.6%MIN
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids 2.7%MIN
We will be hosting a tailgate party for our furry friends and their owners on Saturday, September 19th. Lots of taste testing, great deals, games, face-painting, contests and give-a-ways.
Bring the entire family!
Wear your favorite team gear so you can pose for a picture with your furry friends in our photo booth!
It’ll be a great time, you won’t want to miss it!
Your dog is not getting enough to eat if you can easily see its ribs, vertebrae, and pelvic bones, feel no fat on the bones, and possibly notice some loss of muscle mass. If chronically underfed, adult dogs may experience impaired ability to nurse young and perform work, and increased susceptibility to bac- terial infections and parasites; puppies may be stunted in their growth; adult dogs may develop osteoporosis.
Your dog is at an ideal weight if you can easily feel its ribs. The waist should be easily observed behind the ribs when viewed from above. An abdominal tuck is evident when viewed from the side.
Your dog is overweight if you cannot feel its ribs, see fat deposits over its back and the base of its tail, discern no waist behind the ribs when viewed from above, and see no abdominal tuck in profile. Obesity occurs in one out of four dogs in western societies. Its incidence increases with age and is more common in neutered animals. Health risks include dia- betes and osteoarthritis.
So what’s in a pet food label?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials stipulate 8 items that must be included on a pet food label. There’s a lot of fine print regarding what has to go where on the bag and some of the terminology but in essence here are the 8:
- Brand and Product Name….pretty well self-explanatory
- Name of species for which the food is intended
- Quantity Statement….net weight or net volume
- Guaranteed Analysis…percentage of each of the nutrients in the food
- Requires minimum % crude protein, crude fat, maximum crude fiber and maximum moisture
- Other guarantees are voluntary or required if connected to a label claim
- Ingredient Statement
- Listed in order by weight on an “as formulated basis”
- Ingredient that makes up the highest percentage of the total weight is listed first
- That includes water before cooking….thus the “as formulated basis”
- Ingredients must be declared by the correct AAFCO defined name
- Nutritional Adequacy Statement
- Statement that indicates the food is complete and balanced for a particular life stage
- Feeding Directions
- At a minimum must state “feed (amount of product) per (weight) of dog or cat”
- Should include recommended feeding frequency
- Name and address of manufacturer or distributor
- If someone else makes the product must show that by using “manufactured for” or “distributed by”
It’s common practice to list the caloric content of the food within the area showing the feeding directions. This is commonly listed as Kcals per cup.
Personal or commercial endorsements are permitted. So keep in mind they probably mean very little. Veterinarian recommended, veterinarian formulated and/or developed are easy criteria to meet.
From a practical standpoint we mostly focus on three key elements of the above requirements. The guaranteed analysis, the ingredient statement and the feeding directions (including the caloric content). It’s these three areas that provide us the most guidance as to the nutritional adequacy, appropriateness and quality of the food for your furry friend. It does take some work to correctly interpret some of this, however. While the first ingredient on the ingredient statement may be “duck” it may not be the ingredient providing the most protein in the diet….after the water is cooked out! But it makes for positive marketing. We’ll have more on that in future pieces.