Pet owners are often confused as to which dog food ingredients are the most digestible and why. Their confusion is understandable considering all of the different components listed on the labels. I will list five common dog food ingredients and discuss their digestibility.
Eggs are highly digestible and are a very common food item for humans. They are also consumed by a variety of wild animals and are found in many dog foods. For humans, eggs have 98% digestibility, as dogs’ intestinal tracts are quite similar they are able to digest eggs with similar efficiency.
One of the most common ingredients in dog food is chicken. Chicken is around 65% protein and has nine important amino acids. There are several factors involved in the processing of chicken for dog food that affect its digestibility. Factors such as temperature used in processing and the freshness of the chicken are both important considerations. The best way to ensure that the chicken in your dog food is highly digestible is to purchase from a reputable dog food manufacturer.
Corn has, in the past few years, been demonized on the Internet with very little evidence, in my opinion. Part of the misconception over corn may due be in part because corn must be processed in order to unlock its nutrients. Once processed, corn is rated at 91% digestibility and high in beta-carotene, vitamin E, lutein, essential fatty acids, and its gluten meal is comparable in protein to many meat meals.
Rice is a highly digestible cereal grain used in many dog foods. In fact Rice is so digestible, and so easy on the intestinal tract, that I often suggest feeding it to my patient’s with diarrhea as part of my treatment protocol. It is also a good source of the B vitamins; thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, in addition to the amino acids in glutamate and aspartate.
The health benefits and digestibly of fish are well known to most of us. Specifically, fish are a great source of long chain fatty acids. In contrast to humans, dogs convert the short chain fatty acids present in many plants to long chain fatty acids less efficiently. As a consequence supplying dogs directly with long chain fatty acids such as those found in fish increases the digestibility of dog food.
The list of all pet food ingredients is too exhaustive to review in this article. Hopefully this will give you some insight into five common components of pet food. Questions on other specific ingredients should be directed to you veterinarian. Make sure that at your next veterinary appointment you take time to ask questions that will help you understand your pet’s nutritional needs.