Nutrition and Your Pet: What is on a Pet Food Label?
It is important to start your puppy on the right foot to proper nutrition. It's essential for good health, performance, and long life. Clinical nutrition is the creation and application of world class nutritional science and technology that results in dietary products for the care of both healthy and diseased pets, in order to improve their quality of life
Your puppy is going through its fastest growth period now until it is about 12 months old. It plays hard and naps frequently. These early stages of your puppy's development represent the most important time in your pet's life. That's why proper nutrition is essential.
Proper nutrition is an important part of avoiding many diseases. With the proper nutrients in the correct amounts, your pet's body can rebuild and repair vital organs, muscle, bone and its immune system. Eating too much or too little of certain nutrients can make your pet more susceptible to many diseases. So it is very important to rely on information supplied or verified by your veterinarian. To be certain that your pet is receiving just the right amounts of nutrients a puppy needs, feed a high quality life-stage pet food like Ivet Foods, Hills Science Diet® or Eukanuba Puppy Food®.
Certain foods are known to cause health problems in your dog and should be avoided. These foods include chocolate, onions, milk, table scraps and other human food. A food made exclusively of one item , such as an all-meat diet, also can create health problems for your pet because it will not provide the balance of nutrients your pet needs.
How to Choose the Right Food
Many pet foods are advertised as meeting or exceeding the minimum nutritional requirements. When feeding your pet, more is not always better. Excesses of such nutrients as protein, phosphorus and sodium can be very harmful to vital organs.
Protein - Too much can cause the kidneys to work overtime to rid the body of excessive wastes.
Calcium - Too much can actually retard growth, cause skin problems, and may cause deficiencies in phosphorus, zinc, copper, and iron, leading to a variety of health problems.
Phosphorus - Too much can cause bone problems and may contribute to kidney disease.
Sodium - Too much can contribute to hypertension, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Fat - Fat is important to supply the calories needed for active, high-energy dogs and growing puppies, but too much causes obesity in inactive or obesity prone adult pets.
Choosing the right food for your puppy may help avoid or delay the onset of many diseases. Depending on your pet's age, medical history, current health and stress level, you will want to feed a food that can help avoid poor growth, lowered resistance to infection, obesity, heart disease and kidney disease.
How to Read a Pet Food Label
The first step is knowing how to read pet food labels to help you choose a high quality food that is nutritionally balanced. The items required on all pet food labels are: The product name; net weight, guaranteed analysis; list of ingredients in descending order by weight; the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor.
The guaranteed analysis and average analysis don't always guarantee proper nutrition. The guaranteed analysis only provides the minimum for protein and fat and maximums for water and fiber in the product. They may be quite different from the actual amount of that nutrient in the food. The average analysis indicates the actual percentages of nutrient quantities present, but includes the moisture content.
The dry weight analysis is more useful than any other because it lists the actual percentage of the nutrient after moisture is removed. This analysis is the only accurate way to compare products differing in moisture content. When comparing products remember that nutrient levels vary greatly in canned, soft-moist and dry because of their vastly different water content. Us the dry weight analysis as an equalizer for comparison of foods with substantially different moisture contents.
One final check into your dog's food should be a request for information on how the food was tested. Feeding trials are the best way to determine if the food is nutritionally balanced. During feeding trials the dog's weight and health are monitored as the specific food is being tested.
How Much to Feed and How Often
You should feed your puppy enough of the proper food to meet its energy needs. Use a feeding guide, usually printed on the label as a starting point only. Thereafter the amount you feed should be adjusted to maintain optimum body weight. Amounts needed vary depending on age, size, activity level, temperament, environment, reproductive status and health.
Initially feed your puppy all it can eat in 30 minutes 3 or 4 times daily. As it approaches 5 months of age most puppies will naturally decrease to twice daily feedings. Adult dogs may continue to be feed twice daily or they may gradually move to a once a day program. Be sure to provide a bowl of fresh, clean water at all times.
Foods Available for Routine Health
Puppy Canine Growth Formulas
These foods are formulated for the special needs of puppies and come in four varieties. Small Bites Canine Growth, Original Bites Canine Growth, Lamb Meal & Rice Canine Growth and Large Breed Canine Growth. All formulas are for puppies from weaning to 12 months of age.
Large Breed Puppies - (greater than 55 lbs at maturity) feed Large Breed Formula Canine Growth. This special dry food is formulated to be low in calcium and fat consistent with the recommendations of many veterinary orthopedic specialists. Many veterinarians believe that genetics, environment and nutrition play a role in the development of skeletal diseases.
Small and Medium Breed Puppies - (less than 55 lbs at maturity) can be fed Canine Growth in either Original Bites, Small Bites, or Lamb Meal & Rice. This food is a high energy food formulated for the needs of smaller and medium puppy breeds.
Nursing Dogs - The dietary needs in late pregnancy and nursing bitches are similar to puppies. Therefore food for small and medium breed puppies as listed above are recommended. Most nursing dogs should be fed their free choice.
Adult Dog Formulas
Healthy adult dogs that are a normal weight can be fed Canine Maintenance (Original Bites or Small Bites) or Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Maintenance. These foods are properly balanced with controlled levels of calcium, phosphorus, protein and sodium for dogs between 1 and 6 years of age. It also includes high levels of essential fatty acids to help promote a healthy coat. This formula is made to help maintain the health and proper weight for the moderately active pet.
Less active dogs requiring fewer calories can be fed Canine Maintenance Light. This food is formulated for the inactive adult dog between 1 and 6 years of age that tend to gain weight easily. Light Formula Canine Maintenance dog food has a low-fat, high fiber content with controlled levels of sodium, protein, phosphorus, and calcium. It also provides a proper balance of vitamins and essential fatty acids to help maintain healthy skin and hair coat.
Remember we also have foods for a multitude of medical conditions including obesity, kidney disease, heart disease, colitis, food allergy, kidney stones, liver disease, and cancer.