When it comes to feeding their dogs, pet parents always are looking for food that is made with the healthiest ingredients and most nutrition. Consumers want a high quality dog food with full disclosure labels and definitive ingredients. More commercial dog foods are vying to meet these requirements and it can be difficult to decide.
Can I Really Trust What's on the Label?
No amount of fact finding and research is too much when it comes to choosing the right food for your dog. Since all dog foods fall under the regulations and scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration, commercial dog food must be safe and meet certain nutritional quotients. Thanks to the continued efforts of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, every ingredient in the dog food must be on the label and the reverse also is true. Specialty pet foods (those not sold in grocery stores) are going beyond the basic preset federal requirements, and are touting greater nutrition, healthier benefits, higher protein and easier digestibility.
Specialty Pet Foods
Trustworthy pet food labels are comforting for dog owners, but how does it all translate into better nutrition for your dog? Blue Buffalo Lamb and Rice is an example of a specialty dog food promising higher quality nourishment. While rice, as an ingredient on the label, does not sound like much, what it is stating is that the grain in this food is of higher quality. Cheaper brand commercial foods use low-grade grains (usually marked "unfit for human consumption") as fillers that add only minimal nutrition. Common grain ingredients in cheaper foods include cornmeal, corn bran, wheat flour and corn cellulose. By putting rice on the label, Blue Buffalo tells you their dog food has whole grains, such as brown rice, oats and barley, to supply your dog with the complex carbohydrates that he needs for energy.
Quantity and Quality of Protein Source
The lamb in Blue Buffalo's Lamb and Rice formula is a high protein, easily digestible, meat source. Dogs need at least 25 percent of their diet to come from protein. Low-end dog food formulas have an average of 11 percent (0.00011 grams) available protein per serving. Three ounces of fresh ground lamb has 21 grams of proteins, 240 calories and 17 grams of fat. The vitamin and mineral value of 3 ounces of lamb includes 19 mg of calcium, 2 mg of iron, 288 mg potassium, 4 mg of zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. Blue Buffalo Lamb and Rice dog food label lists deboned lamb as the first ingredient, and a minimum of 22 percent protein per serving. Protein is an essential nutrient for your dog and is responsible for his healthy skin, coat and muscle building. Low-quality meat by-product formulas derive protein from bone, connective tissue and offal, delivering the lowest acceptable amount of protein.
Well Rounded Canine Nutrition
Veterinarians recommend fruits and vegetables for your dog, and they should make up roughly one-third of their daily nutrition. Blue Buffalo Lamb and Rice formula has more than 102 ingredients on the label and more than 27 are fruits, vegetables, herbs and oils. Some fruits and vegetables in Blue Buffalo's Lamb and Rice foods include sweet potato, blueberries, pumpkin, parsley, baked potato, carrots, acai berry, apples, kelp, alfalfa, spinach and more. Blue Buffalo Lamb and Rice dog food add more than 30 vitamin and mineral supplements to their formula including glucosamine, for joint health, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for a shiny coat, healthy skin and calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A for strong bones and teeth. Blue Buffalo foods include LifeSource Bits. These are edible chunks of food containing a blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants selected by holistic canine nutritionists.
- National Institute of Health: Understanding Regulations Affecting Pet Foods.
- Association of American Feed Control Officials: Labeling & Labeling Requirements
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pet Food
- Purdue University: Agricultural Department, Is Lamb Good For You!
- Blue Buffalo Dog Foods: The True Blue Test Results