Dog food: What exactly is in it?

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If you take a closer look at the labels of dog food , you will find information on the “analytical components” of the food, which often begin with the syllable “raw”.

Here you can find out what these values ​​say about the feed and which content of crude protein, crude fat, etc. is recommended.

What should I look for in dog food labels?

In USA, the manufacturer must provide information on the guaranteed analysis (given in percent) and the ingredients on feed.

Based on these values, you can judge the dog food more precisely and make a judgment about the content of certain nutrients – if you have a certain basic knowledge: After all, expressions are often found here that the average dog owner does not know.

We therefore want to explain the most important of the analytical components to you. Incidentally, the syllable “raw” in front of the individual information only means that X percent of this value was found in the laboratory analysis. But based on these values ​​no statement can be made about the quality, i.e. how usable this nutrient actually is.

Crude Protein

First of all, let’s look at the crude protein. In summary, this content describes all nitrogen-containing components of the feed and thus largely the sum of all protein compounds present in the feed.

To a small extent, this test even records B vitamins, for example – precisely because they contain nitrogen. However, the proportion is extremely small and therefore negligible.

But not all proteins are the same: depending on whether it comes from muscle meat, connective tissue or plant substances, the protein has a different usability and digestibility for four-legged friends.

If you only know the raw protein content, nothing can be said about the origin of the protein, nor about its actual usability.

In principle, dry food for an adult and healthy dog ​​should contain at least 20% crude protein. A canned food for the same requirements must not contain less than 6%, better still at least 8% crude protein, in order to adequately feed the dogs.

Are you amazed at this difference? It appears huge, but actually isn’t. Because wet food contains around 75% water, while dry food only contains around 10%.

If you remove this water content, you get roughly the same values. Of course, the following also applies here: the dogs will need more of a protein that is poorly digestible (e.g. connective tissue) than of a particularly easily digestible protein (muscle meat, egg) to meet its needs.

Raw Fat

In second place for the analytical components is usually the raw fat content. In principle, all feed components that can be dissolved in an ethereal solution are counted towards the raw fat.

This means here again that not only the “classic” fats (triglycerides), but possibly also other substances are recorded. These include, for example, fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A.

Comparable to raw protein, there is also a catch here: based on the raw fat content, nothing can be said about the type and origin of the fats.

This value alone does not provide any clues as to whether the fats contained in the feed provide the dog with essential, unsaturated fatty acids or are hardly usable.

Therefore you have to search the product description and composition for information on the oils and fats used or contact the manufacturer directly.

Particularly suitable sources for dogs are animal fats (such as beef and poultry fats) and nutritionally high-quality oils, for example sunflower, rapeseed, linseed or salmon oil.

How high the crude fat content should be for your own dog depends primarily on its level of activity and the required performance: For normally active dogs, the crude fat content is around 12% in dry food and around 5% in canned food.

For dogs that do persistent active work (e.g. herding dogs in action), a food with a higher crude fat content must be selected. Depending on the activity, this is around 15-30% in dry feed, for example.

Crude Fiber

In the third place we want to deal with the specification of the crude fiber content. As the name suggests, this is about vegetable fibers; to be more precise, the plant components that are almost indigestible for dogs.

These include cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. You are probably wondering what they are actually doing in the food if they are indigestible – the answer: These plant fibers are urgently needed to support digestion.

Because they stimulate the intestinal activity, support the activity of a healthy intestinal flora and contribute to the formation of the optimal stool consistency.

In order to determine the crude fiber content in the laboratory, all proteins, fats and ashes are removed with the help of acids and alkalis. This leaves only the indigestible herbal components, the “fiber”.

Logically, meat and offal have no raw fiber content, as they do not contain any vegetable components. Exceptions are the stomachs, which, uncleaned (e.g. as “green rumen”), contain plant-based food components of the slaughtered animal.

The dog food therefore only gets the required raw fiber content through the addition of fruit or vegetables, for example. In dry food this is between 2 and 3.5%, in canned food ideally 0.5 – 1%.

The proportion of crude fiber should not be significantly higher. Otherwise, this only unnecessarily restricts the digestibility of the feed. At least values ​​of over 1% in dry and over 0.2% in wet food must be achieved.

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Raw Ash

Finally, we come to the raw ash. It indicates the sum of all inorganic components in dog food. These inorganic components are the bulk and trace elements (minerals) and, for example, silicas.

The raw ash is determined by heating the feed sample in the so-called muffle furnace to 550 ° C and annealing it.

These are weighed and reported as raw ash. Exactly which minerals are contained cannot be deduced from this value alone, which is why this information would have to be determined using further procedures and listed separately.

Normally, dry fodder has a raw ash content between 5 and 8%. Smaller deviations are of course possible. If this value is much higher in the main food, it can make the dog less eager to eat its food and possibly take in excessive amounts of minerals.

Of course, they have to meet his needs, but excessive amounts can also lead to an unhealthy oversupply.

Good Analytical Data = Good Feed Quality?

As you have probably already noticed, the analysis data of the food provide you with valuable guidance when choosing the right food for your dog.

Unfortunately, they alone are not enough to fully assess the feed quality. You should also take into account the composition and other information provided by the manufacturer.

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