Why Dog Food Comparisons Are Difficult to Make – The Reason You Need to Understand Dog Food Labels

When you wander down the pet food aisle in your grocery store, do you find that dog food comparisons are hard to make? Perhaps you really try to understand dog food labels but they still sound like a foreign language.

Let’s see if we can shed some light on the subject.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a commercial enterprise that regulates the quality and safety of the ingredients found in pet food in the United States.

AAFCO does testing to decide which specific ingredients are acceptable as pet foods. The problem is, they rate high and low quality ingredients as both being nutritionally adequate. Why? Because consumers demand pet food in a wide price range.

This is one of the reasons why comparisons are difficult to make. Unless you learn to understand how to read the labels, you will never be able to make a correct comparison.

Dog food labels, of course, include the product name. This name might suggest the primary ingredient, such as Lamb Dinner or it might indicate the type of dog the food is intended for, such as Yummy Dog Puppy Food or Yummy Dog Senior Diet.

By the way, the ingredients are measured by weight. So if we speak of a product having 25% meat – that 25% means 25% of the total weight.

Now, if the product is named for a specific ingredient, such as Yummy Dog Beef, the product is supposed to be made up primarily of beef. In fact canned food should contain 70% beef and dry food should contain 95% beef. The difference between the two is the water weight found in canned foods.

Now here is where it gets tricky.

If and when product labels use terms like dinner, formula or nuggets — such as chicken dinner, beef nuggets, lamb formula — then the percentages change. Using those terms, the product only has to contain 25% of the named ingredient. So the ingredients in chicken formula may only contain 25% chicken.

When you make dog food comparisons you need to understand this fact. If a product like Yummy Dog Beef Dinner only contains 25% beef, what makes up the other 75% of the ingredients?

Let’s read some dog food labels and see.

You will be glad to know that ingredients still must be listed in the descending order of weight. So, a beef dinner label might read like this:

Beef Dinner – Ingredients: Corn, meat and bone meal, wheat, beef.

You may believe you are providing your pet with a beef meal, when, in reality, he is eating mostly corn and meat meal (more about meat meal in another article – it is disgusting!)

Now, just to confuse you a little more, when the labels use the terms flavor or flavored (such as Chicken Flavored Nuggets) — then all the rules go out the door. No exact percentage of the named ingredient (in this case chicken) has to be in the food. The formula need merely include the ingredient somewhere.

No doubt about it, without reading dog food labels, the ingredients can be deceiving. That’s why it is important to make dog food comparisons, checking one label against another, until you find a healthy dinner for your pet!

Food Allergy Symptoms – Would You Recognise Them?

Could you be suffering from a food allergy?

* Do you suffer from skin reactions: flushing, itching, hives, eczema?
* Do you have gastrointestinal problems: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting or bloating?
* Do you get respiratory system effects such as hayfever like symptoms including watery, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing, and difficulty breathing or wheezing?
* Have you ever had anaphylactic shock (anaphylaxis)?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you could possibly be suffering from a food allergy. So, what is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance? Put simply a food allergy involves your immune system and an intolerance does not. A food allergy is an abnormal immune system response to the introduction of a food, an ordinarily harmless substance into the body. A reaction can occur within minutes, or a few hours, after the food is ingested. Whereas, an intolerance to a food is an adverse reaction that does not involve the immune system. Reactions can be immediate or delayed by up to 20 hours after a food is eaten. Reactions could be any or all from the list above and will vary from person to person and even between the foods they are allergic to.

Some people are allergic to only one food and eliminating this food from their diet is a relatively simple step. Unfortunately some people are allergic to multiple foods and maintaining a healthy balanced diet becomes a daily challenge. Eating out and socialising for those with multiple food allergies can become virtually impossible – especially when they are so allergic that the life threatening condition anaphylaxis is a possibility should they accidentally be exposed to an allergen.

Food intolerance is often confused with food allergy, but it is important to differentiate between the two because the diagnosis and management of these conditions differ. If you have family members who have an allergy then the chances of you or your children developing allergies is significantly increased. People with a family history of allergies are more likely to develop food and other types of allergies, although not necessarily to the same allergen! You also have an increased risk of developing an allergy if a member of your family suffers from asthma, hay fever, food allergy, eczema or hives.

Almost any food can cause a reaction, but 90% of food allergies are caused by 8 common foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish and tree nuts. Allergies to sesame seed and kiwifruit are becoming more common. More and more people are discovering that they may be allergic or intolerant to gluten (the protein found in wheat and wheat products) – latest figures suggest that 1 in 10 people could be sensitive to gluten.

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms in the list at the beginning of this article, it is important to note that they have many possible causes and you should consult your health care professional to rule out any other underlying medical conditions before embarking on food elimination diets. It can be useful to keep a food diary and make note of the foods you eat and a list of symptoms. The diary will assist your doctor or specialist with your diagnosis.

Puppy Food for the Best Start in Life

Selecting the right puppy food for your pet can be a difficult and confusing process for most new pet owners. Every pet owner wants their beloved furry pet to grow up healthy and strong, and the only way to achieve this development is by putting your pet on the right diet. There are several factors that you should consider when selecting the pet food products to feed your puppy.

The basic guideline that you should follow is to make sure that your pet always has something to eat, but you should moderate the amount of food given to the puppy to avoid overfeeding. This is because the number of obese and unhealthy dogs is on the rise, and you definitely want to avoid feeding into the trend.

Nutrition is very important when thinking about what to feed your pet. Dogs need balanced diets, just like you do, so that they can grow up to be strong and healthy. In essence, your puppy’s diet should contain a little bit of everything including vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This not only ensures that they get the required energy and dietary nutrition, but also acquire lustrous healthy coats.

There are several brands of puppy food available in the market, and you can choose the products you feel are best for your pet. For instance, you can either decide to go for dry or wet dog food. This however does not mean that your pet should only eat one type of pet food brand; you can change your puppy’s diet once in a while so that they do not get bored with the food. This change needs to be gradual, because their systems may not be able to handle abrupt dietary changes.

You also need to observe the way the dogs react to different puppy food products. There are some food products which might cause some allergic reactions and they should be avoided. Always measure the food that you feed your puppy, to make sure that you do not starve your pet or overfeed it. Using the same feeding bowl everyday helps to regulate portions and the portions can be increased gradually as your puppy grows.

There are some puppies which are highly active, while some prefer to snuggle up close to their pet owners and pretty much laze around the whole day. Generally, active puppies should be given more food to sustain their activities. The lazy ones need to be encouraged to be more active so that they do not become obese, but healthy little animals. There are also some puppies which need specialized diets, because of pre-existing health conditions. It is wise to consult with a veterinarian, who can best recommend the ideal pet food products for your puppy.