My third installment in this month’s discussion of pet food will focus on the ingredient list, which is open to all kinds of interpretation.
I think most pet owners are becoming aware that the ingredient list is arranged by weight. This means the ingredient listed first weighs more than the ingredient listed last. But there is much more to that fact that many pet food companies do not reveal.
Sample pet food label ingredient list:
INGREDIENT LIST: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Dried Egg Product, Fish Oil (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Brown Rice, Guar Gum, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Cranberries, Magnesium Oxide, Choline Chloride, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols.
Many pet owners want to see a food that has a protein source as its first ingredient like the one above. To them it means there is more protein than carbs. The sample label seen here could be higher in protein than some other foods but you would need to look at Dry Matter, or DM, to know for sure.
Now look at this example
This second food definitely has a protein listed first. But if you stop there you will not see the next few ingredients.
Pet food companies can separate similar ingredients so they can appear lower in the list. Here corn gluten meal and corn meal are listed. My guess is if we weighed both of the different types of corn meal they would weigh more than the chicken by product meal. This is a legal practice but does not represent the food as accurate as it should.
Again, what can we as pet owners do? The most important thing is to educate ourselves. Certain foods may or may not be an okay food to feed your pets, and in certain situations could actually be harmful.
Always make an educated decision!
by Angel Blenker
Angel graduated from Madison Area Technical College in 2004 with a Veterinary Technology degree and received her certification same year. She joined us in 2006 and became our lead technician in 2008. Angel goes to numerous continuing education events including the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas. Her special interests include alternative modalities and nutrition. She is available for nutrition consults. Angel and her husband, Kris share their house with Jerry an 8 year old DSH and Leo who is a 7 year old Dalmatian. Angel loves spending time with her family and animals. When Angel has spare time she enjoys volunteering, traveling or reading a good book.