Ingredients And Preparation Of Food For Dogs And Cats According To International Regulations
Over the years, knowledge of nutrition has taken the study of pet food a giant step further. It is now widely recognized by the veterinary profession that pets live longer and in healthier conditions thanks to the choice of good nutrition.
What Characteristics Should The Best Pet Food Have?
A good pet food for dogs and cats must be:
- Complete: provide an adequate amount of all the necessary nutrients;
- Balanced: nutrients are present in the right proportions;
- Digestible: your pet can digest food and absorb nutrients;
- Pleasant to the palate: good smell and taste;
- Safe: free from anything that could harm a pet.
What Are The Key Ingredients In Pet Food?
When we are looking for the best pet food for dogs and cats, we must first of all know how to read the labels and the terminology of the manufacturers.
Meat And Animal By-products
Meat is generally a good source of protein, rich in essential fatty acids, iron and some B vitamins.
Animal proteins increase the palatability of a product and have a high digestibility. Various indications can be found on the label and in most cases meat from by-products of the human food industry is used. These animals are slaughtered under veterinary control and it should not be assumed that these are processing waste such as beaks, legs, horns, but are cuts of meat not suitable for commercial purposes. The meat thus obtained meets the very high standards of safety and quality required by the regulations.
An excellent food for dogs and cats must be composed of meat generally accepted by the human food chain such as pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, etc..
Fish is a good source of high-quality protein. Fish meat contains iodine. As the bones are frequently ground during the preparation of the fish, an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus is also provided. Fat fish pulp (such as salmon) contains vitamin A & D and omega 3. Elements that support the immune system and are natural anti-inflammatory.
Fish in dog and cat feeding are commonly divided into two groups:
- white fish: haddock, plaice, cod, whiting and sole;
- fatty fish: herring, sardines, mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon and trout.
Dairy Products And Eggs
Dairy products and eggs provide extremely digestible proteins. Dairy products enrich food with calcium and a number of essential vitamins.
Examples of dairy products used in pet food include cheese and dairy products.
Vegetables provide a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Soybeans are commonly used to provide a source of protein and energy, omega 6, B-group vitamin fibers and minerals.
Spinach, pumpkin, carrots are important for their antioxidant power which preserves the good health of the intestinal mucous membranes and the immune system.
Cereals And Cereal Derivatives
Cereals provide an important source of energy, a percentage of protein and other nutrients including thiamine and niacin.
Although cats do not have absolute nutritional requirements for carbohydrates, they have an excellent source of energy in an easily digestible form.
Good sources of carbohydrates in pet foods are usually based on cereals such as corn, rice, wheat, barley or sorghum. Some fibres, such as moderately fermentable fibres such as beet pulp or rice bran, may also have additional beneficial effects on the health of the digestive tract.
Unsaturated Fats And Oil
Fats and oils provide energy and essential fatty acids. They can be of plant or animal origin and are important for optimal health, including renal function, reproduction and a shiny coat. There are 2 different types of essential fatty acids (EFA): omega 3 and 6. Some fats also provide a source of vitamins A, D, E and K.
Sodium is an essential nutrient and together with chloride it is important for the balance of liquids in the body. Good sources of sodium in pet food include meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Sodium can also be included in pet foods prepared in the form of table salt (sometimes listed on the ingredients panel as salt) to improve taste.
The term various sugars is a category description, which can refer to sucrose (cane sugar, commonly known as table sugar), fructose and glucose, which are all natural products found in fruits, vegetables and cereals.
Some manufacturers may add sugar to pet food as an energy source. Dogs and cats can easily convert sugar into usable energy through normal digestion. Manufacturers can also add small amounts of sugar to help in the cooking process. When the sugar is cooked together with the meat, the browning of the meat and the production of natural sugars (just like those produced in the cooking of the Sunday roast) are obtained, this gives a pleasant color and improves palatability.
If sugar is included in addition to what occurs naturally in the ingredients, the levels are carefully controlled to ensure nutritional balance and palatability.
Vitamin And Mineral Supplements
A supplement of vitamins and minerals can be added to ensure that the animals take the necessary daily elements.
Additives that may be used in pet food include vitamins, flavorings, preservatives, antioxidants and colors. Most of the additives used in pet food are also used in our food. An excellent pet food for dogs and cats must be free of appetizers and artificial colorants.
Preservatives can be natural and work by preventing the deterioration of food ingredients just like in our food.
Canned pet foods are protected from deterioration by their hermetic storage in the can, but dry foods, even with modern packaging, must include preservatives to maintain the quality and safety of the food. Natural preservatives, tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), are the most commonly used in pet food.
Antioxidants: Dietary antioxidants play a substantial role in the long-term health and well-being of pets. Some manufacturers may add biological antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and selenium, to help maintain good health and neutralize free radicals.
Any pet owner interested in obtaining more information about the ingredients of a specific pet product should look at the label on the packaging.