100% Balanced & Complete
100% Nutritional Disclosure
A nutrient has no value to the dog unless it can be digested and absorbed into their system. While nutritional claims appear to be relatively uniform across dog food labels, the ingredients used to manufacture pet foods vary widely in their digestibility or ability to deliver usable nutrients.
Fresh, whole foods are much easier for the dog's system to digest, and are naturally rich in essential nutrients. Lightly baked muscle meats supply natural amino acids (protein) and fatty acids (oils) which are efficiently converted into energy. Dogs naturally prefer the flavor of freshly baked meats, and freezing eliminates the need to add preservatives or other unnatural additives.
The key ingredients in many popular foods include corn, wheat, soy, ground bones, and meals, which are much less digestible for dogs than fresh whole foods. Products made from dried meals must be supplemented with amino acids and fatty acids that would be naturally present in whole fresh foods, and in many cases enzymes and probiotics are also supplemented to aid in digestion of lower quality foods. Dogs must consume larger amounts of less digestible foods to meet the same nutritional levels - this results in increased elimination of waste.
The dog's digestive tract is relatively short, making it critical for them to quickly and easily digest and absorb required nutrients from their food. Adding supplements and digestive aids to the dog's food does not improve the quality of the food.
Many pet health issues can be directly attributed to diet resulting from unbalanced or incomplete diets, or their inability to fully digest the ingredients. Making better food choices for pets has proven to assist in resolving numerous health problems:
The American Associated of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publishes standards for the nutrients required in a healthy dog's diet, much like the FDA publishes the daily requirements for vitamins and minerals for humans. (See Our Nutrient Profiles to compare My Perfect Pet values to the AAFCO nutrient profiles.)
Fiber helps regulate fluids in the intestine which aids in prevention of both diarrhea and constipation, and helps prevent growth of harmful bacteria. Fiber also reduces risk of colon cancer. There is no current standard for the level of fiber in the dog’s diet; however, balance is critical - too much fiber can irritate the intestinal system, especially if not cooked properly. Too little can upset the digestive system and cause gas or loose stools, and can lead to problems with the anal glands.
Dogs have the ability to convert both proteins and carbohydrates into energy. Soluble carbohydrates are quickly converted into glucose during digestion, and play a key role in the digestive process. While carbohydrates are found naturally in a wild canine diet through consumption of plants and intestinal contents of their prey, levels are typically much lower than found in most commercial pet foods. A natural diet typically does not exceed 20% carbohydrates, whereas most canned pet foods exceed 30% and kibbles can contain as much as 70%. And most of this is through low grade, high processed grains and meals. Unnaturally high levels of carbohydrates can lead to a variety of health issues, including obesity and intestinal problems.
My Perfect Pet foods are all low carbohydrate, and the calculated carbohydrate level is published for every formula.
Proteins are actually made up of a number of amino acids. Of the 22 amino acids that dogs require, they can synthesize 12 (meaning they can produce their own), and must consume the remaining 10 in their food.
All labels must state the level of "crude protein" in the food. However, crude protein is not the same as “digestible” protein – it only matters if your dog can digest it into the required balance of amino acids. Meats and eggs top the chart as sources of protein. Meals, by-products and processed grains may contain very little (if any) actual digestible protein.
Fats are actually made up of fatty acids which are converted into energy, and play a key role in the health and condition of dog’s skin and coat. Balance is critical - balancing these in the dog’s diet has been proven to resolve problems with itching, scratching, dry skin, dull coat, and hair loss.
Minerals help development of bone and cartilage, muscles and nerves, regulation of blood chemistries, and production of hormones.
Calcium: Calcium is essential for bone formation, blood coagulation, and nerve and muscle function. The level of calcium in the diet is critical – too little can result in poor bone development and weakened immune system, too much can contribute to skeletal problems including hip dysplasia.
Phosphorous: The ratio of calcium to phosphorous is critical. Meat is high in phosphorous but relatively low in calcium, and so diets comprised primarily of meat may result in unhealthy calcium to phosphorous ratios unless supplemented.
Potassium: Potassium helps muscles and nerves to function, and helps in balancing fluids in the body. Sources include potatoes and whole grains.
Sodium: Sodium helps carry cells throughout the body, including the removal of waste products. The ratio of sodium to chloride is important. Most foods contain some level of sodium, watch out for foods that add any type of sodium as a preservative.
Chloride: Chloride helps to balance acid/alkali in the body, and helps in the production of hydrochloric acid used in digestion.
Magnesium: Magnesium helps in bone growth and production of protein. It is found in whole grains and fish.
Iron: Iron helps to form hemoglobin, found in red blood cells. Iron is found in liver, lean meats, fish, and whole grains.
Copper: Copper aids in bone development, and the absorption of iron, which is required for the production of red blood cells. Copper is found in liver, fish, and whole grains.
Manganese: Manganese helps in the processing of protein and carbohydrates which produce energy and help to regulate metabolism. Manganese is found in whole grains and eggs.
Zinc: Zinc is critical to development and maintenance of healthy skin and coat. Thinning coats or hair loss is frequently attributed to zinc deficiencies. Sources include brown rice and meat.
Iodine: Iodine aids in the functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates growth and metabolism. Sources include kelp, fish and iodized salt.
Selenium: Selenium is an antioxidant which works with vitamin E to protect cells. Sources of selenium include and meat and whole grains.
Adequate levels of these vitamins are critical to a healthy diet; however, fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver. Excess amounts in the diet over a period of time may reach toxic levels.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is known for contribution to vision and many other functions. High levels of Vitamin A are found in liver, liver oils, vegetables and fruit. Vitamin A levels are extremely high in a number of popular vegetables, including carrots and sweet potatoes - levels should be closely monitored in diets with high vegetable content.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps to regulate calcium and phosphorous levels which are required for bone development and nerve and muscle control. Dogs can convert ultraviolet radiation from the sun into Vitamin D, or consume through foods such as liver or fish oils.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a known antioxidant and aids in cell development and the metabolism of fats. Sources include sunflower and fish oils, and liver.
Water soluble vitamins are equally important in the dog’s diet, but unlike fat soluble vitamins that are stored in the liver, excess water soluble vitamins are easily flushed from the body and pose no risk of toxicity.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Vitamin B1 helps convert nutrients into energy. Thiamin is found vegetables, fish and other meats. Raw fish may contain large amounts of thiaminase, an enzyme that destroys thiamin, and should not be fed to dogs. Heat destroys thiaminase, so cooked fish is considered safe.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Vitamin B2 is essential for growth, muscle development, and healthy skin and coat. It is found naturally in organ meats, but is very low in grains, and vegetables, and must be supplemented in a vegetarian diet.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Niacin helps enzymes to function properly. It is found primarily in meat, and must be supplemented in vegetarian diets.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Vitamin B5 helps to convert carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. It is found in meats and vegetables.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Vitamin B6 aids in the processing of amino acids. It is found in meats and vegetables, but is easily destroyed in improper cooking or processing of foods.
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin): Helps in the production of red blood cells and found in liver.
Folic Acid: Aids in the production of red blood cells and found in liver.
Biotin: Biotin helps to produce healthy skin and hair, and is necessary for growth, digestion, and muscle function. Best sources include beef liver and eggs. Raw egg whites contain avidin which destroys biotin and so raw eggs should never be fed to dogs. Heat destroys avidin and so cooked eggs are an excellent source of protein for dogs.
Choline: Choline helps in the development and maintenance of brain and liver cells. Sources include egg yolks, cooked beef, chicken, turkey and poultry liver.
Calories are used to measure available energy. (ME) Kcal/kg reflects the usable energy after the food is digested. A higher number of (ME) Kcal/kg indicates a higher concentration of calories and energy in the food. This can be compared to the difference between a sports energy bar and a rice cake. The energy bar has much more concentrated calories for energy. Similarly, pet foods with higher Kcal/kg provide more concentrated calories and energy from a smaller amount of food, meaning less waste and less clean up. Pet foods with a higher Kcal/kg can also save money in the long run since you can feed less while still providing the needed calories for energy.
The caloric needs for a dog varies depending upon breed, age, sex, activity level, and overall body condition. Recommended feeding amounts are based on the average calories required per day for the average, normally active dog. Older, less active dogs may require less than the recommended average, and more active dogs may require more. The best rule is to know your dog, and adjust the quantity to maintain the ideal weight.
Ash itself is not a nutrient, but represents the total mineral content, or "ash" that would remain after all other nutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrate, fiber, etc.) had burned off. Food should contain some ash since minerals are an essential part of any diet. However, the total ash should be roughly equivalent to the sum of the minerals listed on the label. Higher ash values are typically assumed to be fillers or non-usable minerals that should be avoided.