We all want to give the best to our dogs, and when it comes to their food we have so much to chose from, it becomes difficult to see clearly and to make the right choices. Between well-known brands, attractive marketing, colourful packaging and great buzz words; we are all victims of the system and the trends. But there is more, its seems, to it than meets the eye....
In this quick post, I am not going to tell you about what food you should buy or what diet you should put your dog under. We all have different beliefs, and financial means, and I’m sure we all want to give our dogs the best we can afford. So instead, I want to let you know about a little unknown fact, so you can make your own mind up.
It is impossible to compare dog food without a measuring method known as Dry Matter Basis. Pet food manufacturers must report the content of nutrients in their products on their packages under something labeled Nutrients Analysis. This will help the consumers (us), compare 3 vital nutrients: Protein, Fat and Fibre. However, unless you are comparing products that are comparable, i.e. dry kibble with dry kibble, tinned food with tinned food, or ready-to-eat raw food with ready-to-eat raw food, I fear using these results alone will simply be misleading.
The way these results are calculated and then shown on the packaging fails to consider the different amount of water (or moisture) present in different types of products and diets. However this is a vital and critical factor if comparing dry food such as kibble, with say a moist ready-to-eat raw food product as one may have a much higher moisture percentage than the other. So to make a true comparison of nutrient levels between moist and dry food, we should make sure that we use the same moisture basis.
Let me try to simplify this for you. First you must compare figures that are comparable, so you must find out the Dry Matter of the product. Start by removing 100 percent of the moisture content from the dog food you want to compare (you can generally find the moisture content on the Analysis Label on the packaging).
To determine the amount of protein on a Dry Matter Basis, simply divide the reported amount of protein by the total amount of Dry Matter in the food. Then, multiply the result by 100.
So Lets say the label states the dog tinned food contains 6% Protein and 75% moisture.
100 – 75 = 25 (Dry Matter)
(6/25) x 100 = 24%
Dry Matter Protein Content = 24%, way more than what the label original stated (almost four times more).
So of course, if you are comparing dry food with dry food, or tinned with tinned, Dry Matter Basis is not important. However if you are going to compare different types then you must calculate the Dry Matter first to make a true, informed decision.
Using this system, you might quickly realise that some products you thought are high in protein, such as an average dry kibble diet, stating a Protein content of 22%, contains in fact 24.44%. And a tinned product showing a protein content of 6% actually contain almost 32%.
Equally a Raw Diet might advertise their protein content at 12%, but in fact the actual content on a Dry Matter Basis is of almost 47%.
So at first glance, tinned or raw food protein (and other nutrients) content always looks inferior to Dry Food protein content, however this is often not the case.
But there is something else to think about…
The quality of the protein and fat are also extremely important. Personally I would rather have less protein in a product but be certain that the protein (or fat) comes from known meat, i.e. lamb, beef, tripe, etc. rather than a very high level of protein coming from unknown meat (often referred to as Animal Derivatives) where we do not know what parts or even what animals are being used.
So now you know that reading the label alone is not enough, you also need to shop with a calculator in your pocket. Happy shopping.