Which ingredients in pet food are actually good for your dog, which are easy for them to digest, and which are not?
Perhaps you’ve wondered about these and other questions, and are unsure about the ingredients in your dog’s food. Here is our guide to the ingredients in dog food.
Grain – good or bad for dogs?
You might have heard or read that grain is harmful for dogs. Scientifically speaking, however, there is no reason to condemn grain and the carbohydrates it contains. The explanation for this view lies in the evolutionary history of wolves into dogs: Over the course of tens of thousands of years, dogs have perfectly adapted to their lives with humans. In doing so, their ability to digest carbohydrates, such as starches, has improved considerably.
When should you feed your dog grain-free food?
The digestive enzyme which digests starches is 7 times as active in dogs as in wolves. Research has also found many other indications that dogs can make use of carbohydrates to good effect. Therefore, from a present-day perspective, it can be said that grain and other carbohydrates are not necessarily unsuitable for dog nutrition.
Rather, the decision as to whether a dog should be given food containing grain depends far more on the dog’s ‘individual tolerance’, i.e. grain-free food is only necessary for dogs with a proven grain intolerance or allergy – and this occurs much less often than many believe.
Grain-free dog food
If your dog has been found to be unable to tolerate various types of grains, then avoiding them is very easy with our grain-free recipes, such as
Happy Dog Sensible Africa,
With the exception of Karibik (Caribbean), these are all also available as Mini varieties for small dogs up to 10 kg.
Meat content - a vague term
Protein is an essential building block in a dog’s system. A vital source of protein in a dog’s diet is meat. But the term ‘meat content’ is not protected under law, nor is there a scientific definition. It can be compared to the term ‘light’ on many products made for humans. A reputable statement on foodstuffs defines meat content as the animal protein as a proportion of the total protein in dog food.
And what about the ‘meat content’ in Happy Dog dry food? Depending on the particular formulation and its use, the ‘animal protein content of the total protein’ in Happy Dog varieties is between 70 and 80 per cent. In our specialised formulations, the animal protein content may differ, in order to meet the particular need that each special feed is designed to meet.
By the way: It is not only the protein content in pet food that is important, but also providing variety, since not all proteins are equal. Protein is composed of amino acids – separate building blocks that are quite different to each other. Certain amino acids are essential for carnivores, so it is all about getting the right mix. A balanced diet is therefore necessary for your dog to prevent deficiencies, ensure performance and for a long, healthy life.
Naming animal protein sources
There are legal regulations governing how feedstuffs which originate from warm-blooded animals may be described. For example, whereas previously the description ‘poultry meat meal’ was used, now it has to be referred to as ‘poultry meal’ or ‘protein from poultry’. This always refers to high quality raw ingredients which have to meet the same foodstuff standards as other animal foodstuffs.
Beet pulp is not hidden sugar
Beet pulp is the substance left over from sugar beet, after the sugar crystals and syrup have been extracted. What remains are the fibrous parts of the sugar beet. In our pet food we use beet pulp which is ‘desugared’ and very high in crude fibre, and which is an important source of dietary fibre. This has many health benefits: It is essential for the intestinal health of animals and can even bind bacterial toxins from bowel pathogens if necessary. Beet pulp is not sweet, does not lead to weight gain, and is not used to enhance the taste.
Did you know that the beet pulp used in pet food is so low in sugar, that this sugar beet pulp is even used in diabetic foodstuffs?
And, that a dog that weighs 20kg, eating a daily ration of 250g of food, will only be consuming 0.5g of sugar? To give a comparison: a cent coin weighs around 2g, which is 4 times this amount.
What is cellulose?
Cellulose is a highly digestible, pure source of raw fibre, which originates from wood. But what is the purpose of the cellulose in dog food? In pet food, this crude fibre is included to help satisfy the appetite or to stabilise stool consistency in sensitive dogs.
Cellulose is therefore often specifically included in formulations which target weight reduction, for example, as well as in food designed for puppies or senior dogs. But you may be wondering why cellulose in particular is used in food? There is a good reason – if other sources of crude fibre were included in the formulation in the required quantities, this would lead to increased quantities of stools, as well as increased flatulence.
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