The pendulum of popular opinion swings back and forth so much that advice any topic may change from year to year even day to day. Nutrition is one of those areas with which you will hear wildly differing counsel. Knowing where to turn can be very confusing.
Whether the advice is coming from pet food companies, special interest groups, or individuals, everyone seems have and agenda when it comes to feeding your pet. Pet food ingredient digestibility is one of the areas of particular confusion. Many pet owners become so confused that they give up and decide that they will prepare their pets food themselves. While this method is attractive to many people, it is an avenue of approach that most pet health care professionals strongly discourage.
No matter how pure the intentions, it is extremely difficult to accurately formulate a properly balanced diet. Another reason I discourage preparing pet food at home is that it often fosters an atmosphere that says, feeding human food is acceptable. As a consequence it leads to the feeding of unhealthy food items.
My most important advice is to choose a pet food manufactured by a reputable pet food company. Dr. Lisa Freeman a leading pet nutrition researcher and professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University said “The … most important thing is the manufacturer,” she said; “You would absolutely be shocked at the variability in the quality of different companies.” She went on to say that whatever pet food you chose should have a nutritionist available to talk with you about questions or concerns you may have concerning your pet’s food.
Seeing by-products listed on pet food ingredient labels is not necessarily an indication that they are formulated with low quality nutrients. In the context of food, a by-production it is simply a food produced from the process of making something else. As long as by-products are from high quality, highly digestible sources such as chicken, pork, beef or fish they are absolutely acceptable sources of nutrients for your dog. Examples of high quality food by-products that we eat ourselves are Jell-O® brand gelatin and beef bouillon.
Some vegetable and starch plants are also common ingredients of dog food. Specifically corn, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples and peas are examples of appropriate ingredients which are readily digested by dogs. Remember that domestic dogs are omnivores and not carnivores.
Remember that any pet food company can list ingredients. Make sure that you chose a company that can consistently guarantee high quality, easily digestible components in your dog’s food. The most important decision on choosing pet foods with digestible ingredients is to involve your family veterinarian. He or she has the training and expertise to help you navigate the sometimes confusing and contradictory information available. Their primary motivation is promoting the health and well-being of your pet. Listen to them and follow their advice.