DOG DINNERS: Choosing a dog food brand or quality can be difficult. DOG DINNERS: Choosing a dog food brand or quality can be difficult.

DOG foods do vary in quality. So do the companies that make the foods.

To some companies quality is only a word. To others, it’s a way of life many include rice which has no value whatsoever.

Ultimately, the quality of a dog food is best measured by your dog. How your dog performs on the food, how he looks, feels and acts are the best measures of the quality of any food.

At least 80 per cent of my clients that report behavioural problems find a change of food changes the unwanted behaviour. No matter what a food company claims unless your dog has bright eyes, silky hair and supple skin, and is not overweight, then the food is not right for him.

Not all dogs do well on a particular brand of food some dogs simply do better than others.

Most foods are categorised as Economy, Regular, Premium, Super Premium and Performance. Regular and Premium foods are not formulated like a Super Premium or Performance food.

Dogs have simple stomachs and short digestive tracts for digesting meat. They also lack the saliva enzyme amylase, which is necessary for pre-digesting starch.

Dogs have adapted to foods with high vegetable protein levels, however they perform better when fed foods high in meat protein and animal fats.

Checking the label of a Super Premium or Performance food an animal protein will be listed as the first or second major ingredient. These should include either chicken, or turkey meat, or poultry by-products meals, meat or pork meals or other animal by-products.

At least two sources of fat or oil should be included for adequate energy and essential fatty acids.

Fat in food is the dog’s source of energy. Animal fat contains essential and non-essential fatty acids as well as provides a highly digestible and easily metabolised energy source.

Generally, poultry, turkey or chicken fat are higher in quality because they have more unsaturated fatty acids and are more digestible than animal tallow. Vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, lecithin corn oil, wheat germ oil, sesame seed oil or linseed oil all contain high levels of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid for dogs.

These should be combined with animal fats for the best long-term results of a glossy hair-coat and soft pliable skin. Carbohydrates are the third most important nutrient and ingredient class in modern Super Premium and Performance foods.

Simple carbohydrates in dog food come from quality sources like rice, oatmeal, corn or wheat. These are easily digested when properly cooked.

Fibre, a complex carbohydrate is essential for proper digestion and stool formation. Beet pulp and tomato promace are both high in fibre.

Other sources of fibre include rice, soy hulls, oat hulls, wheat bran and peanut hulls. All these come from the external portion of the seed coat. These sources except peanut hulls have microscopic sharp edges, which can cause small cuts in the intestine.

This reduces the intestine’s effectiveness in nutrient digestion. Peanut hulls on the other hand, have the potential of being contaminated with aflatoxins and should never be used in a quality dog or cat food.

Vitamin and mineral fortification is an absolute necessity in nutritionally balancing any food for dogs. While the vitamins and minerals generally, make up less than 2 per cent of the total food by weight, they provide some of the most crucial nutrients.

These include 12 to 16 vitamins and 15 to 25 minerals. Often the list of these micro nutrients is much longer than the list of major ingredients.

Expect this list in all dog foods. Super Premium usually feature more than one source for each vitamin and mineral.

The ingredient list will be longer compared to non-premium foods. It is not recommended that you add anything by way of food supplement, or vitamin to Super Premium Foods.

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