Using high-quality ingredients is important for good pet nutrition. But not all pet foods are created equal.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets standards for nutrient content in commercial pet food. They must be substantiated by laboratory analysis or by feeding trials to ensure that the food contains all of the nutrients a pet needs for optimal health.
Additives in pet food are a variety of ingredients used to enhance flavour, improve texture or meet specific nutrient needs. They may also be used as preservatives, emulsifiers and antimicrobial agents to help prevent spoilage.
Natural and organic additives are usually derived from plant, animal or mined sources that have not been chemically synthesized. These ingredients are often labelled as such or as “all-natural.”
Artificial additives are synthetic and can be harmful to pets and humans. Some of these include ethoxyquin, which has been linked to liver and blood damage.
Other additives include antioxidants, glycerin, and lecithin. These are added to dry foods to protect fats and oils from oxidation. They also act as an emulsifier and help keep water in the food, creating a gel or gravy in canned, pouch and other moist diets.
A home-cooked diet is a great way to save money on pet food while also providing your dog or cat with nutritionally balanced meals. However, you should consult a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to help you choose the right recipe.
A well-balanced homemade diet contains a high protein source (such as animal meat or fish), fat sources (such as oil, safflower, olive and canola), carbohydrates (such as brown rice, sweet potato, oats and barley) and a phytochemical source (fruits, vegetables, herbs). It is recommended that the proportion of each ingredient be 40% protein, 50% carbohydrates and 10% starch.
The diets evaluated presented one or more nutrients below the FEDIAF recommendations for dogs and cats, as shown in Tables 1 and 2. The most common deficiencies were vitamin A (12 % of the recommended amount), Ca (19 % of the recommendation), Zn (33 % of the recommended amount) and thiamine (22 % of the recommended amount). These deficiencies may result in clinical signs.
Canned foods can offer a convenient and affordable way to get more nutrient-dense foods into your pet’s diet. However, they also carry some health risks due to the high levels of bisphenol-A (BPA) in cans and plastic lids.
BPA is known to be a hormone disruptor and causes damage to important biological systems in the body, including the gut microbiome. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Science found that dogs fed commercially available canned foods had higher BPA levels than those on dry diets.
Despite the concerns, many pet parents still choose to feed their pets canned foods because they are more palatable than kibble. In addition, they provide extra hydration for dogs who suffer from urinary tract or other conditions. But, before you make a decision on whether to feed your dog a canned or dry diet, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.
Dry foods are the most common type of pet food, and the majority of them use a processing method called extrusion. This process heats the ingredients and breaks the bonds of starch, resulting in a gelatin-like texture that is easier to digest for dogs.
Dry pet foods also contain a variety of other ingredients that are added to enhance palatability, including cellulose and carrageenan. These ingredients help keep the food from spoiling, and they can also be used to add flavors.
Many dry foods are also formulated with specific nutrients in mind, such as omega fatty acids and glucosamine, to promote healthy joints for your dog. It’s a good idea to work with your vet to find the right food for your pet.
Treats are a favourite among pet owners as they often serve as rewards for positive behaviour and help build a bond between you and your dog or cat. Many pet treats also contain added ingredients to help promote general health or specific conditions such as diabetes or allergies, and are often free of animal by-products.
While some treats are healthy in moderation, others can be harmful to your pet if given in large quantities or when not suitable for their diet. For instance, rawhide is a choking hazard and can lead to gastrointestinal problems and even cancer.
A more healthy option is a piece of fresh fruit, like strawberries or blueberries, which are sweet and a good source of vitamin C. However, you should never give your dog a whole fruit with the pit or seeds in it as these can cause gastric issues.