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How to read the label?

There are so many dry feeds for cats and dogs in pet stores – how to figure them out? What to look for when reading a label? How not to make a mistake in choosing?

The owner of the pet buys dry food for several reasons:

they make life very easy, because food for the pet does not need to be cooked

the pet gets everything he needs: a complete set of nutrients in the optimal ratio

special diets support the health of the pet when it has a tendency to various diseases

dry food is economical: even expensive dry food requires less expense than a balanced proper nutrition of self-cooking.

But in order to choose the right dry food, you need to know how to read the label on its packaging. What key points are reflected in it?

The package contains a variety of information, the main thing is not to confuse it.

Before buying feed, carefully study the following two points:

1. Composition (or “Ingredients”)

This is what the feed itself is made of, products that are put into a mixer or extruder.

All ingredients, according to EU and US regulations, are listed one after another in descending order. First come those that are the most by weight in the feed, then those who are at least 1% smaller, and at the very end are the ingredients at the rate of 0.1% per kg of feed.

2. Chemical analysis

This is the ratio of nutrients: proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals per 100 grams of feed. It is usually indicated as a percentage, but can also be found in grams.

Carbohydrates are not registered on the label: they are calculated by subtracting from 100 all the numbers given in the analysis.

It is important to know!

Absolute numbers can be shown on the label, i.e. in terms of dry matter (minus moisture, and then it is indicated in the analysis) or in a raw product (for example: crude protein, crude fat). Then the last digits will be larger, because they will also contain percentages related to water.

You need to be careful with the numbers in the analysis: they show the amount of protein that has been formed from all the ingredients. It will be a mixture of animal, plant and even bacterial-fungal proteins (if brewer’s yeast and probiotics are used in the feed). This figure does not show how well this whole protein is absorbed in the body of a dog or cat. It gives information about how much the pet consumes, and depends on a number of factors:

– what is the source of this protein (animal or vegetable),

– what part of the animal was used (muscle, meat or offal),

– from the state of the body: whether there are digestion disorders, whether the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract is impaired, whether there are inflammatory processes in the mucosa and other pathologies.

Selection of a diet for a particular pet is a rather complicated process, which can be facilitated by knowing the rules for writing the label and the particular features of your pet.

What to look for in the composition?

How to read the label?
Feed Composition Overview
Feed base (ingredient first in the composition)
Dogs and cats are predators, so the source of animal protein should be at the heart of the feed.

It can be the meat of any mammal, bird or fish, as well as egg and milk protein. The last two components are rarely found in the basis of the diet. They are very expensive, and they are usually added in small quantities to balance the amino acid profile of the feed.

It is better if the main protein ingredient in dry feed is dehydrated, i.e. dehydrated, dry. Then it has the same relative mass both at the inlet to the feed preparation process and at the outlet, that is, in the finished product. However, many manufacturers use fresh meat, as it improves the palatability of the feed.
If fresh meat comes first in the feed, be sure to look at the next ingredient next to it. In the process of production of feed, moisture from fresh (raw) meat will evaporate, it will become less in weight and in fact the main ingredient in the feed will be the one indicated in the composition after the fresh meat. It is better if it is dehydrated meat (chicken protein or something like that) than rice or wheat.
Carbohydrate sources
The main sources of carbohydrates in the diet of dogs and cats are cereals. They contain complex sugars – starches, which, when broken down, give the body the necessary glucose for energy.

Sources of carbohydrates can be not cereals, but root crops, fruits, melons and other plant foods. But they must be in an amount of at least 30-40% in terms of dry matter (if you look at the analysis of the feed), otherwise it would be difficult to call this feed balanced and only for certain animals, which it will suit because of the individual characteristics of the body.
The more sources of carbohydrates in the feed, the longer they will provide the body with energy, reducing the likelihood of gaining excess body weight.

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