I’m making a dog and cat nutrition info e mail. Is this good?
Question by Evie: I’m making a dog and cat nutrition info e mail. Is this good?
Hi I work at a local Pet Smart and I’ve been secretly helping people with pet nutrition. My manager wants them to just buy, buy, buy, but I’ve had enough and I’m helping other make informed decisions. Here is the Email that I send them, it’s LONG and a holistic vet helped provide the information. Feel free to just browse and skim it:
Hello, this is Evie from Pet Smart. Thank you so much for giving me your email so that I could forward some pet nutrition information to you!
I have decided to include a lot of information, so please save this E mail for later reference.
First, let’s look at pet food label basics.
I. THE LABEL
A. Information required on the label includes quantity, ingredients, guaranteed analysis, feeding directions, and the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor. Even the size of display panels and fonts are tightly regulated.
B. Food Name. There are very significant differences between “Chicken Cat Food” (95% chicken), “Chicken Platter for Cats” (25% chicken), “Cat Food with Chicken” (3% chicken), and “Chicken Flavored Cat Food” (no chicken).
1.The “95 Percent Rule.” If the label says “Salmon Cat Food” or “Chicken for Dogs,” 95% of the product must comprise the named ingredient (salmon or chicken, in these examples), not counting water for processing. A product label “Beef and Liver for Dogs” must contain a total of 95 percent beef plus liver; there must be more beef than liver, since beef is listed first. This rule only applies to animal products. A label saying “Chicken and Green Bean Dog Food” must still contain 95 percent chicken.
2.The 25 Percent Or “Dinner” Rule. This rule means that the ingredients used in the product name must comprise at least 25% of the product (excluding water for processing) and must include a qualifying descriptor like “bites,” “stew,” “casserole,” “chunks,” “entree,” “nuggets,” “formula” or “platter.” “Chicken Formula for Dogs” could actually contain more of other ingredients than chicken, so it is essential to check the ingredient list.
3.The 3 Percent Or “With” Rule. This allows manufacturers to label a product with combinations of ingredients, such as “Tuna, Turkey and Giblets Cat Food” or as “with” an ingredient (“Cat Food with Salmon” or “Dog Food with Lamb”) if the product contains 3% of each named ingredient, excluding water for processing.
4.The “Flavor” Rule. Adding further confusion, manufacturers can label products as “Turkey Flavor Cat Food,” but not include any turkey other than a “sufficiently detectable” amount. The bottom line is: always read the ingredient list. While it doesn’t tell you exactly what is in the food, it does provide valuable information that will allow you to compare foods and choose the best ones for your cat. I never buy anything with the word “flavor” unless “natural” is listed before it.
5.Order of Ingredients. By law, ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight. Water is generally the heaviest ingredient. Fresh (not rendered) animal ingredients, such as meat and by-products, contain about 65-70% water. The ingredient list tells you what items, and relatively how much of each item, is in the food. The main ingredients are usually the first four or five items listed, but after processing, only a small amount of quality meats and fresh ingredients may remain.
C. The Guaranteed Analysis lists four categories of ingredients: crude protein (minimum), crude fat (minimum), crude fiber (maximum), moisture (maximum)
1.Many foods also list essential fatty acids, glucosamine, and other nutrients separately, although they are not required. “Ash” is what is left of the food after it is literally burned away, and is composed mostly of minerals.
2.How good are these measurements as an estimate of the quality of the food? One study found that “the declaration of crude protein is not sufficient information to judge the protein quality of dog foods.”
D. AAFCO Statement (Nutritional Adequacy). The label must state what the product is adequate for general purposes, such as “complete and balanced” or whether it is more limited. Foods made for kittens must meet different standards than foods for adult cats. The language of this statement is strictly regulated. Foods that are do not meet the standards for daily use must specify “intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only.” Quite a few “natural” foods, especially frozen and/or raw diets, do not meet the standards and should be labeled with this wording.
II. COMPARING PET FOODS
A. Dry Matter vs. As Fed. Just looking at the labels, you’d think that a bag of
dry food containing 30% protein has more protein than a can of food containing 10% protein. But canned food actually has much more protein. The difference is the moisture. To compare foods accurately, you have to subtract the water. This allows you to compare directly, on a “dry matter basis.”
1.Dry weight is calculated by subtracting the moisture content from 100 percent. To calculate each ingredient’s percentage, simply divide the listed percentage of the ingredient by the dry weight percentage. Dry food typically contains about 10% water, while canned food contains about 78% water.
2.Example: A canned food contains 8% protein and 78% water. Dry matter content is 100% – 78% = 22%. Now divide the ingredient by dry matter: 8% / 22% = 36% protein.
B. Estimating Carbohydrates. You can get a rough estimate of the carbohydrate content simply by subtracting protein, fat and moisture from 100%. For cats, shoot for a carb content of 10% or less.
a. Meat meal
b. Meat and bone meal (mammals)
c. By-product meal (poultry)
d. Plant-based meals such as corn meal or soybean meal are not rendered.
D. Rendering has a bad name, but it is a necessary industry that “recycles” the 50% of every livestock animal not used for human consumption.
1.”4D” animals are those that are dead, dying, diseased, or disabled prior to reaching the slaughterhouse. They may be condemned for human consumption in whole or in part. Other rendered items are by-products, parts and items that are unwanted or unsuitable for human use—such as out-of-date supermarket meats, cut-away cancerous tissue, and fetal tissue. They are commonly found in pet food under names like “meat and bone meal.”
2.Quality of rendered ingredients varies greatly. A few rendering facilities are closely associated with slaughterhouses, which are in turn connected with feedlots or poultry farms. These “captive” rendering plants are more likely to produce good quality, relatively pure meals. Such meals are typically designated with the name of the source animal, such as “chicken meal.”
3.Despite rumors to the contrary, just because something goes into the rendering plant does not mean it ends up in pet food. There are many other uses for rendered products including livestock feed, fertilizer, industrial use, cosmetics, and many more. So, while roadkill and euthanized pets are commonly rendered, it is—while not impossible or even illegal—unlikely that they will be used for pet food.
2. How to Pick the Best and Safest Foods
•Avoid by-products (including by-product meals, meat-and-bone-meal, and similar terms). An occasional can of by-product-based wet food is okay, but not as a steady diet.
•No “animal” products such as “animal digest” or “animal fat.”
•No corn or wheat products and no “gluten” products.
•Look for a named meat or meal (“lamb” or “chicken meal,” for example, instead of the generic term “meat”) as the primary protein source. Be aware that many products will list meat as the first ingredient, but the next few ingredients are the real protein source: corn gluten meal, by-product meal, meat-and-bone-meal, or other cheap substitutes for real meat protein.
•Avoid wheat, soy, or corn products of any type. They can be contaminated with pesticides, molds, and other toxins. Corn and soy are commonly genetically modified.
•Avoid generic or store brands. These may be repackaged rejects from the big manufacturers, and generally contain cheaper—and consequently poorer quality—ingredients.
•Don’t shop for pet food at the grocery store, or even at your veterinarian’s office. You’ll find the best quality foods at specialty pet stores, health food stores, and many feed stores.
•Unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian, avoid “light,” “senior,” “special formula,” or “hairball formula” and similar foods. These products may contain acidifying agents, excessive fiber, or inadequate fats that can result in skin, coat and other problems.
•No chemical preservatives (BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, ethoxyquin). Look for dry foods preserved with Vitamins C and E instead of chemical preservatives. While synthetic preservatives may still be pres
present, the amounts will be less.
•In general, select brands promoted to be “natural” or “organic.” These terms have legal definitions. While such foods are not perfect, they may be better than most. Watch out for foods with terms like “Nature” or “Organic” in the brand name that don’t contain natural or organic ingredients.
•The term “human grade” has no legal meaning. However, since by-products and feed grade grains are clearly not human grade, foods using “human grade” ingredients may be better than most.
•Foods made by smaller, independent companies are often superior to mass-marketed brands, but it is still essential to read the label and assess the ingredients.
•Check the expiration date to ensure freshness.
•Store dry pet food in a sealed non-porous container (a large popcorn tin is ideal) in a cool, dry place. Remove leftover canned food from the can and refrigerated in a glass or ceramic container.
Answer by Julie D.
I don’t know how you are getting these people’s email addresses, but I would NOT do this if I were you. One of these customers may turn you in and you will be out of a job. I understand that you are trying to educate and help people, but what they feed their pet is really none of your business. You have no idea what their incomes are and what they can afford. If they wanted to learn about foods, they can Google this themselves. I think you better stick to doing your job and not stick you nose in someone elses business. I’m NOT trying to be rude…..I’m trying to help you keep your job. Besides that, YOU are not a public forum and some people may call this an invasion of privacy. This is MY opinion.
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