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How To Read Pet Food Labels Effectively

 by alexandra on 02 Feb 2015 |
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Deciphering pet food, labels can be just as confusing as finding the best food for your pet's health and longevity. You should be able to understand pet food labels and be able to compare pet products with confidence if you look for certain cues and pieces of information.

Seeing beyond the marketing hype to find the real substance of the nutrition status within the pet food is a skill that will benefit both you and your pet.
Pet food companies use the product display panel to catch the eye with key pieces of information including the pet food company name, the product identity, the product use, and the net weight of the package. The information panel should provide a guaranteed analysis of what’s in the food, an ingredient list, a nutritional adequacy statement, feeding guidelines, and the manufacturer’s contact information.

Please note that the percentages given for protein, fat, and fiber are measurements of the food in its current state on the nutritional information provided. However as a result of different pet foods having different levels of moisture, you can only logically compare pet foods on a dry matter basis when dealing with both dry and wet pet food.
Be sure to read through the ingredients list carefully with a discerning eye. Generally, the first five ingredients will make up the majority of the pet food product. Ideally, meat should be one of the first ingredients on a pet food label. In general, a good-quality dog and cat food will have two quality animal protein sources listed in the first few ingredients. Look for a food that also has two different sources of fat in the ingredient list, for adequate energy and to provide all the essential fatty acids necessary for your pet’s well-being and continued growth. Poultry, turkey, or chicken fat are higher in quality than animal tallow, because they have more unsaturated fatty acids and are more digestible.
Apart from protein, sources of linoleic acid, an important omega-6 fatty acid, is included in most vegetable oils such as soybean, lecithin, corn oil, wheat germ oil, sesame seed oil, and linseed oil. Look for these on the label as the right balance of animal fats and plant oils is important for a glossy hair coat and soft, pliable skin. In addition, look for whole grains, vegetables, and other real-food ingredients on the label, including corn, corn meal, whole wheat, barley, rice which all provide essential energy for the pet and appealing texture to the food.
Be sure to always read the feeding instructions with care to ensure that you are feeding your pet adequately. Every pet food label must have recommendations regarding how much to feed pets of different sizes and types. It is believed that these guidelines can usually overestimate the amount of food a typical pet needs to eat every day.
You will find on the packaging the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor where you can enquire for further information. Manufacturers usually try to cover all contingencies, but ultimately you still need to monitor your own pet's needs, preferences and environmental conditions. As usual seek advice and talk to your vet if you're unsure about your pet food or have any questions about the ingredients.

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