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.
The American Associated of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publishes standards for essential nutrients the dog's diet, much like the FDA publishes the daily requirements for vitamins and minerals for humans. (See Nutrient Profiles to compare My Perfect Pet values.)
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. Balance is critical - too much fiber can irritate the intestinal system,too little can cause gas or loose stools, and lead to problems with the anal glands.
Dogs can 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. Carbohydrates are supplied naturally in t wild through consumption of plants and intestinal contents of prey and typically do not exceed 20% carbohydrates, whereas most canned pet foods exceed 30% and kibble can contain as much as 70%. These 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 made up of amino acids. Dogs can synthesize 12 of the 22 required amino acids (meaning they can produce their own), and must consume the remaining 10 in their food.
All labels must state the minimum level of "crude protein" in the food. However, crude protein is not the same as "digestible" protein.Muscle meats and eggs top the chart as sources of protein. Meals, by-products and processed grains may contain very little digestible protein.
Fats are 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 - the right balance in the dog's diet has been proven to resolve problems with itching, scratching, dry skin, dull coat, and hair loss, while too much fat in the diet can lead to a variety of health issues.
Minerals help development of bone and cartilage, muscles and nerves, regulation of blood chemistries, and production of hormones.
Calcium: Essential for bone formation, blood coagulation, and nerve and muscle function. The level of calcium 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: Helps muscles and nerves to function, and helps in balancing fluids in the body. Sources include potatoes and whole grains.
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 excess sodium as a preservative.
Chloride: Helps to balance acid/alkali in the body, and aids in digestion.
Magnesium: Helps in bone growth and production of protein. Found in whole grains and fish.
Iron: Helps to form hemoglobin, found in red blood cells. Found in liver, lean meats, fish, and whole grains.
Copper: Aids in bone development, and absorption of iron, required for the production of red blood cells. Found in liver, fish, and whole grains.
Manganese: Helps in the processing of protein and carbohydrates which produce energy and help to regulate metabolism. Found in whole grains and eggs.
Zinc: 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: Aids in the functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates growth and metabolism. Sources include kelp, fish and iodized salt.
Selenium: An antioxidant which works with vitamin E to protect cells. Sources 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 and so quantities should be controlled to avoid reaching toxic levels over time.
Vitamin A: Known for contribution to vision and many other functions. High levels are found in liver, liver oils, vegetables and fruit. Levels should be closely monitored in diets with high vegetable content.
Vitamin D: Helps to regulate calcium and phosphorous levels required for bone development and nerve and muscle control. Sources include liver or fish oils.
Vitamin E: Known antioxidant aiding in cell development and metabolism of fats. Sources include sunflower and fish oils, and liver.
Water soluble vitamins are equally important in the dog's diet. Excess amounts are easily flushed from the body and pose no risk of toxicity.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Helps convert nutrients into energy. Found vegetables, fish and other meats. Raw fish may contain large amounts of thiaminase, an enzyme that destroys thiamin, so should not be fed to dogs. Heat destroys thiaminase, so cooked fish is considered safe.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Essential for growth, muscle development, and healthy skin and coat. Found naturally in organ meats.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Helps enzymes to function properly. Found primarily in meat.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Helps to convert carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. Found in meats and vegetables.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Aids in processing of amino acids. 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: Helps to produce healthy skin and hair, and 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: 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. 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.