Are you feeding a Balanced Dog Food?


Balanced Dog Food

The majority of dog food products in stores today are formulated to provide the sole source of nutrition for your dog. These foods are usually described as being "Balanced and complete" on the packaging. In order for manufacturers to use this description, the product by law needs to meet certain minimum and maximum levels established by the EU's "feeding stuffs" Act in the UK and Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in the US. These laws have been established to ensure that dog foods really do meet the nutritional needs of canine pets.

Under these requirements, dog foods must contain precise levels of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, and be adjusted to the specific life stage requirements of dogs. In order to prove that they are nutritionally sound, foods must be manufactured from a recipe that complies with specific nutritional requirements, or be proven in an independent feeding trial.

But just what goes into a "balanced and complete" dog food? Take a look below.

Protein

Protein is one of the most important nutritional elements in a dog's diet. It is comprised of amino acids which are essential to building muscle strength and repairing damaged body tissues. By nature a dog is only able to synthesize half of the amino acids that he/she requires and the other half know as essential amino acids must be taken from his/her diet.

Ingredients like beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, soybeans, egg and fish meal are all regularly used in commercial dog foods to supply the needed protein levels. Healthy adult dogs usually require 18-25% protein in their diet from various sources.

Carbohydrates

Generally dog foods consist of between 30-70% carbohydrates. Being omnivores, dogs use carbohydrates as a source of energy. Most dog foods include ingredients such as rice, corn, oats, wheat and barley which give the kibble texture and structure. These are easily digested due to the fact that they have been processed.

Fibre

While fibre is not an essential component in dog foods, it does assist in keeping your dog feeling satiated for longer periods and also has many benefits in digestive health.

Fats

Fats have developed a very bad reputation over the years, but not all fats are unhealthy, and some are essential to proper dog health and bodily functions.

Certain fatty acids are required to ensure a properly balanced diet and provide not only energy, but also flavour and taste to foods, as well as optimum absorption of specific vitamins. Fats also assist your dog in maintaining a healthy, shiny skin and coat.

Fats included in dog foods are usually pork or chicken fat, vegetable, cottonseed, fish safflower oils and more.

A healthy balanced dies usually consists of 10-15% fat in adult dog foods. Excessive fat intake usually occurs when dogs eat excessive kilojoules in the form of treats and scraps without getting adequate exercise.

Vitamins and Minerals

Essential vitamins and minerals need to be incorporated in adequate quantities to ensure that it is balanced and complete and provides your dog with the adequate nutrition for optimum health. Vitamin A is essential to maintaining healthy skin and coats, while Vitamin E assists in immune system support.

Vitamins are sourced from many different fruits and vegetables which is why these are listed in many dog foods.

Minerals are also important in assisting the body to perform a variety of functions as well as prevent deficiencies. Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Sulphur, Potassium and Chloride are necessary in larger amounts while trace minerals, necessary in smaller amounts include Iron, Copper, Chromium, Iodine, Zinc, Manganese, Fluorine and Selenium. Certain nutritional supplements as well as natural ingredients like meats, fruits and vegetables, legumes and grains are all sources of these essential minerals.

Water

Water is essential for the complete balance of a healthy diet. It assists in digestive function, ensuring adequate hydration, eliminating waste from the body transporting nutrients, and regulating body temperature. Most dog foods, even dry ones include water.

So next time you're shopping for a dog food ensure that all of the above ingredients are listed on the pack in appropriate quantities.