Pet Food Labeling UK
So how do you choose a good quality dog food and decipher the lingo on the Pet Food Labeling? Well I have tried to break it down for you to help ensure that you understand what they say.
Meat and Animal Derivative
This is a generic term used in Pet Food Labeling meaning that animal proteins contained in the food come from any animal and any bit of the animal. In other words it could be chicken breast, or rat rectum; the fact that it is not a specified source means that I would advice that you avoid foods with this term.
What you should look for? When you look at the label, ensure that you are looking for the protein to be named by source; such as "dried chicken meat" or "chicken meat"
What you should Avoid? Food that lists the term "meat and animal derivatives" and also the term "meat by-products" i.e. poultry by-products should, in my opinion, be avoided.
This term includes all types of cereal, regardless of their presentation, or products made from the starchy endosperm. Cereals are a good carbohydrate source and provide necessary dietary fibre, but they vary in quality and nutritional value, and can be chosen by the manufacture to bulk out the food to increase their profit. Some dog foods can contain up to 80% cereals.
Some manufacturers don't use cereals, but fruits and vegetables instead which is a great alternative.
What you should look for? Products that name the cereal; such as rice, which is easy for a dog's digestive system
What you should avoid? The generic term cereal or cereal derivative, as these are merely bulking out the foods, with little nutritional value.
Manufacturers use additives to make their foods more attractive to the prospective buyer, to improve the "taste", and to give the product a longer shelf life.
Artificial additives are commonly used as they are cheaper than their natural alternatives. For example, synthetic antioxidants are often listed as "EC permitted antioxidants" in Pet Food Labeling.
These are the most commonly used E numbers:
E320 - BHA - Butylatedhydroyanilose
E321 - BHT - Butylatedhydroyutoluen
E324 - Ethoxyquin
These additives can cause cancers and allergies, so the best option is to use a food with natural additives.
What should you look for? Look for foods that have been preserved with natural antioxidants, such as mixed tocopherals and rosemary.
What you should Avoid? Avoid pet foods preserved with synthetic antioxidants, such as "EC Permitted antioxidants", BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin.
Fat is important to your dog's health, but you need to check your pet food labeling to ensure that the source of the fat is predominantly vegetable, and if possible, is also high in Omega 6.
Animal fats - These are used because they are cheap and palatable. Manufacturers use fats that are rendered from any animal, but this can be bad for a dog with food intolerance.
Named animal fats - such as chicken or lamb fat - these are better than just animal fat as they tend to be a better quality, if the label says fish oil, this is even better as it's high in Omega 3.
Sunflower oil - A high quality fat source as it is high in Omega 6, but sadly does not taste great. It does work well though when teamed with a named fat.
Linoleic Acid - (Omega 6) Fatty acid that is found in plants and vegetables and is great for your dogs skin and coat.
Check the label Look at the typical analysis on an ingredients panel for the linoleic (omega 6) content. A good quality dog food should contain over 3%. Under 1% is a poor quality for your Springer.
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