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Dogs are evolved to derive their energy from animal proteins and fats, rather than plant-based proteins and carbohydrates. It sounds simple, but many pet foods available today lack these basic elements and are low in protein, but high in unnecessary carbohydrates. To compound the matter, labelling can be complex and unclear to anyone without a background in nutrition!
So how can owners be confident they know what to look for when reading food labels to find the best for their pet? By doing their ‘meat maths’ and asking themselves three simple questions:
How much meat?
- Owners should look for at least 50% meat content in their dog’s food. That means they’ll be getting enough animal protein and fat to help them build and maintain strong bones and muscles in a controlled way.
How much fresh meat?
- By fresh we mean meat preserved by refrigeration only, without artificial preservatives or chemicals. You may be surprised to find most commercial pet foods do not contain any fresh meat at all, instead favouring cheaper alternatives which may have lost some of their nutrients.
Look for WholePrey ratios which incorporate meats, organs and cartilage in quantities that mirror the natural diet. In nature there are no synthetic food supplements, and dogs and wolves get their nutrition by consuming whole prey animals. Muscle provides protein, whilst liver, kidney and tripe supply vitamins and minerals, whereas bones and cartilage deliver calcium and phosphorus.
ideally, meat should be sourced from regulated farms and sustainable fisheries that offer the best quality.
How many meats?
- A good pet food will also include a variety of meats from different animals unless you are feeding one specifically formulated with one protein source for sensitivities.
Use these three questions to help you determine which pet food will provide the right nutritional balance for your dog.