Most of the Britain’s commercial dog foods are manufactured by four companies Nestle (Purina, Bakers), Pedigree Masterfoods (Pedigree, Cesar, Royal Canin, Waltham, James Wellbeloved), Proctor & Gamble (Iams and Eukanuba) and Colgate-Palmolive (Hill’s).
British foods are labeled according to EC directives which state what preservatives have been added. All dog foods include a ‘best before’ date which usually corresponds to the shelf life of the fat-soluble vitamins in the product.
If you plan to feed your dog a commercial dog food, do some homework. Visit the manufacturer’s website, a good source of additional information. Prepare your list of questions and post them at the website. Reliable dog food producers will tell you everything you want to know. Unreliable ones will not.
How To Compare Different Foods
Comparing protein, fat or fibre levels simply by reading labels is pointless because levels vary according to the food’s water level. To compare the levels of anything in food you have to convert the information you have been given to a “dry-matter” basis: what is there once all moisture has been removed. Here is how you do it. A typical canned food label might say:
This food is 81 percent moisture so it is 19 percent dry matter. Calculate the true levels of protein, fat and fibre using this formula.
Dry matter nutrient content = The label’s nutrient percentage x 100
Dry-matter content percentage
Crude protein = 6.5x100 = 34.2%
This is the only way you can accurately compare basic protein and fat or any other contents of one food with another. If you want to save time, all pet food manufacturers will gladly give you this information.
Dry Dog Food
The convenience of all-in-one dry food has made this form of canine nourishment the most popular of dog foods. These foods are cooked under pressure then dried. Fat is sprayed on the particles for palatability but because fat can go rancid, dry foods need a preservative. Antioxidants are excellent preservatives. It sounds better to use a “vitamin” as a preservative and some food manufacturers have switched from ‘synthetics’ to vitamins C and E but not because these are better as antioxidants. They switched because of public pressure not because of scientific evidence. Curiously, natural antioxidants do not last as long as synthetic ones. If you choose a dry food that is ‘naturally’ preserved, store it in a sealed container in a dry, cool location.
Wet Dog Food
Heat sterilisation and vacuum sealing prevent spoilage of canned or vacuum packed foods so no preservative is needed. Most canned foods are nutritionally complete. Canned food is highly palatable but it provides no exercise for the teeth and gums and is prone to contamination if it is not eaten immediately. Manufacturers seldom state how many kilocalories (kcals) there are in their foods, usually because labelling laws such as those in the UK actually prohibit them from doing so. As a guideline, assume that a standard 400 gram can of food contains about 400 kcal. A phone call to the manufacturer’s help line will give you an exact answer for each product.