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……