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The composition of the feed: how to decode it and what is the composition of a good feed?

How to read the composition of the feed?

How to read the composition of the feed, which we give to our animals, which is what conscious guardian should know about food for dogs and cats ?

In the modern, technologically advanced world that uses numerous devices that facilitate our daily functioning, social awareness of a healthy lifestyle is also growing.

A person who wants to spend as much time on earth as possible undertakes all available actions aimed at ensuring the best possible quality of life.

Proper balanced nutrition is also part of this pan-European, otherwise correct trend.

Some even argue that the right food selection can in most cases prevent the development of the disease or heal an already existing one.

Supporters of healthy nutrition, acting in accordance with the principle that "you are what you eat " choose the products eaten in such a way to provide the body with the best vitality.

Hence the extraordinary popularity of organic products, praised by their producers as exceptionally healthy.

On the other hand, we are flooded with heavily processed food containing numerous preservatives, which certainly does not serve our health in the long run.

The popular "fast food " are tasty and provide a feeling of satiety, but also provide unnecessary calories, which results in the obesity epidemic.

The consumer should always be aware of what the products on his plate contain.

This is served by legal provisions strictly specify the need to inform buyers about the composition of the product, but does everyone read the texts written in small print on the products??

Or maybe, while shopping in a hurry, we do not think about what we put in our basket?

And yet, knowledge about nutrition should be essential.

In this article, I will try to explain to you what you should pay attention to when buying products for feeding companion animals, i.e. the most common ready-made commercial feed.

Such knowledge allows you to make the best decisions in a more conscious way, which will certainly result in keeping your pet healthy.

First, a short theoretical introduction to pet food.

  • Types of pet food
    • Commercial pet food composition
    • The composition of premium feeds
    • Ingredients in super premium feeds
    • Holistic and biological feeds
  • How to read the composition of the feed?
    • Protein content of the feed
    • Animal by-products
    • Breakdown of one product group
  • Meat in dry food
  • Is commercial karma bad?
    • The composition of the feed complies with the FEDIAF guidelines
  • Food composition: what to pay special attention to?
  • And what about the recently fashionable grain-free food?
    • Grain-free dog food
    • Grain free cat food
  • What kind of karma to avoid [examples?
  • What food to choose?

Types of pet food

How we choose feed?

Often, dog and cat keepers when choosing food in a supermarket or pet store are guided by brand awareness built by a skilfully conducted advertising campaign, the appearance of the packaging or simply the price of the product.

Of course, the desire with which a given food is eaten by our animal, and thus its taste attractiveness for the animal, is also important.

We assume that if a dog or cat likes a given food and eats it with great pleasure, it is certainly the best for him.

We assume here a little that our picky "purr " will not eat anything bad.

Sometimes we also advise the seller what to choose, what is worth recommending, which dog or cat food is the best. Very often, however, people working in such stores do not have elementary knowledge about animal nutrition and provide only what they hear during marketing training sponsored by large food manufacturers.

Can you then trust them blindly??

Or maybe go to a little trouble and check for yourself what the feed contains and not only be influenced by beautiful-looking packaging.

The most important rule that we should follow is always judging the food based on what is in the bag and not on the basis of the eye-catching illustration on the outer packaging.

A delighted, apparently happy dog ​​or kitten sitting in front of a bowl full of food is actually a cleverly chosen marketing ploy and often has little to do with the real quality of the food.

So let's not fall for a cheap sales gimmick and don't buy with "eyes ", but let's take a little trouble to buy food more consciously and check the composition of the feed.

Generally, all foods available on the market can be classified into one of the main groups (for example, based on cat food).

Commercial pet food composition

Commercial karma

And this is how we distinguish probably the most popular pet foods marketplaces or commercial feed.

What sets them especially apart is very affordable, if not to say, low price, making them a product available to every buyer.

Of course, they decide about such a valuation of market food feed ingredients used for its production. Remember that in the composition of market feeds we won't find meat, and only animal products in an amount not exceeding 4%.

At this stage, let's explain what is meant by the concept products of animal origin.

Well, they are all kinds waste products so definitely cheaper compared to what we understand by the concept of meat, usually in the form of meat and bone meal.

It comes from processing feathers, claws, hooves, intestines, offal so generally speaking of everything that is a "waste product ".

Although it comes from the bodies of animals, it cannot be used meat and bone meal for the production of more valuable products. However, those who believe that they come from carcasses are mistaken.

The meal must meet special veterinary requirements and cannot be made from just any waste product.

In the first place in in the store food store are the most common fillers as cereal products which undoubtedly affects the price of the final product.

Here is an extremely important note:

let's pay attention to order of ingredients in the composition of the feed.

According to the regulations in force, producers must give the ingredient most in the food in the first place.

The composition of premium feeds

Premium feed

Another group of karma are pet food from the premium segment.

As everyone can easily guess, these are it feeds with a better composition, and hence more expensive from the previous ones. The factor that influences the price of this group of feeds is meat, whose quantity cannot be less than 20%.

Of course, the content of other ingredients in these products will also be different, as will the content of different fillers.

It is the "more perfect" composition of the product that will determine its final price.

Not everyone probably knows, but these are the so-called fillers, which are the most common carbohydrates they decide, inter alia, about the amount of stool excreted by the animal:

The more of them, the greater the volume of metabolic end products, which translates into the number of poops made by the animal during a walk.

Ingredients in super premium feeds

The next group of karma are super premium pet food and as the name suggests they are "better" than the previous ones in terms of composition.

The meat content here is at a high level, over 50% and often they do not contain cereal fillers.

They are usually produced by smaller producers who select meat ingredients more carefully in the production process.

Of course, such practices must be followed relatively High price these articles.

Holistic and biological feeds

Holistic karma, that is "comprehensive " is based on the assumption that the body of a dog or cat functions properly thanks to being in balance.

The appearance of a disease or other problem results according to this assumption, from the imbalance in the functioning of the immune system caused by improper nutrition or otherwise by the disturbance of the said balance.

This type of food is exemplary in terms of quality, does not contain artificial additives, preservatives or dyes, harmful substances, hard to digest.

In addition, being optimal in terms of composition, as their producers agree, they prevent the occurrence of diseases.

Biological food and they contain only the highest quality ingredients derived from 100% organic farming and breeding.

They must not contain preservatives or artificial ingredients, dyes and harmful substances.

This type of feed should have an appropriate certificate confirming their titre (Bio, organic). We must remember that the nomenclature of feeds is largely colloquial and there are no legal regulations imposing strictly defined standards on producers. So not every pet food with the name e.g. premium, meets the requirements of this class and it deserves such a name.

So always read the information on the package in fine print so as not to overpay.

How to read the composition of the feed?

Reading comprehension the composition of the food, even by people with some dietary or nutritional knowledge, it is not at all simple.

It may sound scary, but there can be practically everything in karma, so let's analyze the information you read and always approach it a bit critically.

It is important to understand what is being read, because the composition should often give us a lot of thought.

Protein content of the feed

For many caregivers, it is the main component of the diet that determines the purchase of a specific food.

We assume in advance that our pupils are carnivorous and the basis of their diet in nature are the bodies of the hunted victims, hence protein predominantly.

However, let us not only suggest the percentage of protein in the food, but mainly protein digestibility by the body.

For how will we benefit from high-protein feed if not much of it the body will be able to use?

Knowing the subject turns out to be the most important here products from which this protein comes from. Predatory dogs make better use of animal protein which of course does not mean the unsuitability of amino acids derived from plant products.

The digestive system of companion animals is better adapted to the digestion of proteins derived from meat, which is a skill shaped over the course of millions of years of evolution.

And many producers instead of animal proteins, of course the more expensive ones, give vegetable ones (e.g. from soy) and on the label states that the food is high in protein.

Remember, however, that the feed containing hydrolysates that is protein broken down into amino acids it can be highly available even in the case of high content of vegetable proteins.

As we already know, in the first place in food composition there is a product that should contain the most food.

For example, when we read on the label that the food contains "fresh chicken meat ", many consumers will first choose such a food, considering it to be better or more natural.

Meanwhile, we must watch out for a trap set for us by clever marketing specialists.

Well fresh meat contains a lot of water, which increases its weight.

After evaporation and drying, it turns out that the meat content is not that high and the food consists of most of fillers what they are carbohydrates.

Clever truth?

A much better source of protein will be in this particular case dried meats called otherwise dehydrated or ordinary meat meal. As an aside, I will add to distinguish meat meal from meat and bone meal because they are only seemingly the same semi-finished products. In fact, they vary greatly in composition and content of valuable amino acids.

We should also pay attention to the fact that "fresh chicken " in the composition of the food does not necessarily mean poultry meat, but also other chicken products, in particular animal by-products.

The same applies to products of animal origin (usually it is not meat in our understanding of the word).

So we can clearly see how important it is to play on words or to place appropriately selected terms under which there is often not what we think

Animal by-products

It is an extremely extensive group of products that are derived from animals.

Animal by-products, as we can read in the definition, are:

Whole or parts of dead animals, animal products or other products derived from animals not intended for human consumption, including ova, embryos and semen.

It must be clearly stated that they are not harmful to dogs and cats in themselves, but at the same time we cannot say that they are healthier than the meat itself.

We cannot put all products into one bag, hence the legal regulations strictly define what products from this group can be used for the production of pet food.

For feeding pets, we can only use the third category of these products, i.e they must come from animals showing no signs of disease (healthy).

This is waste that does not transmit infectious diseases, but from an economic point of view, we do not use it in human nutrition.

We include here:

  • blood,
  • feathers,
  • hooves,
  • eggs,
  • day-old chicks,
  • invertebrates,
  • bearings,
  • bowels,
  • animal fat,
  • leather or wool from dead items.

It doesn't sound very appetizing.

Remember, however, that these semi-finished products are processed under specific technological conditions (high pressure, temperature), which means that we will not find a fragment of even a hoof or hair in the finished product.

Nevertheless, these are not very high-quality substances, although when processed they certainly should not harm our dog or cat.

The advantage of their use certainly remains price which translates into the final purchase amount of the final product.

In the finished product, even formed into balls, granules or stars, we will not see the ingredients from which they were made.

Breakdown of one product group

Often, pet food manufacturers deliberately break down groups of products into individual ingredients so that what the buyer of the food most expects is in the first place:

that is meat.

This may give rise to a false belief that meat is actually the most abundant in food, while the truth is quite different.

Let him be an example food containing meat in the first place and on many other cereal products. Quantitatively, it will contain much more carbohydrates than the meat in the first place.

So it's best to buy food where the composition is shown as a percentage which will allow you to quickly calculate the content of individual ingredients or those with less variation in meat and carbohydrate components.

Let another example be corn ingredient content.

You can break it down into corn gluten and meal which cleverly allows the more desirable components of the feed to be higher in the composition, although in fact quantitatively in this one there is more corn in the feed than there is meat.

Such treatments, although legal, are based a bit on the ignorance of unsuspecting animal keepers who think that they are buying something completely different.

However, what I emphasize once again, it is worth reading the information contained on the packaging labels.

Meat in dry food

For many owners of dogs and cats, the ingredient by which they decide to buy a specific food is given by the manufacturer accordingly high meat content.

Not everyone knows, but the largest concerns producing food for our companion animals they do not run slaughterhouses themselves and do not slaughter animals.

They are ordering ready, made by large meat plants, large, frozen blocks of animal-derived semi-finished product.

They are the most common ingredients that are unsuitable for human food production, for example:

  • offal,
  • spleen,
  • lungs,
  • brains,
  • kidneys,
  • udders,
  • bowels,
  • eyeballs.

When we read on the label that the feed contains poultry it usually means:

  • mechanically recovered meat,
  • animal waste,
  • bodies,
  • head.

Mechanically recovered meat it really does not resemble what we know from store shelves.

It is what we get by grinding in huge grinders bones.

Contains marrow and a lot fat and is most often used for production burgers or sausages.

Is there any meat in sausages??

Therefore, according to the current definition, they are not meat.

Anyway, the produced feed would be too expensive and could not be accepted in terms of price by the buyer.

Such products are subject to complex technological processes in the feed production plant, which results in ready-made feed pellets, in which meat, in our understanding of the word, is not found.

Is commercial karma bad?

We belong to the European Union, which in a strict, precisely described manner defines what data must be included on the packaging of pet food.

One of the basic documents defining the rules for informing the pet owner about food is "Code of good labeling practice for pet food "Developed by the European Federation of the Pet Food Industry (FEDIAF).

Our Polish one also belongs to this organization POLKARMA that is the Polish Association.

These organizations ensure the highest quality in the production of food and inform the owner of the dog or cat about what their pet eats.

Large, global producers of pet food really do not care about producing pet food from low, suspect quality products, which would certainly have a "hiccup " effect, resulted in a drop in sales and a bad opinion about the company.

Therefore, in each plant, strict standards and requirements for the produced pet food are observed.

Research conducted by independent institutions shows that 85% of feed available on our market meets the stringent requirements set by FEDIAF.

Of course it remains these though 15% and you certainly have to keep your eyes peeled and buy wisely rather by choosing the larger, more famous producers.

The composition of the feed complies with the FEDIAF guidelines


  • beef meat,
  • poultry meat,
  • pork meat,
  • beef and pork offal,
  • wheat bran,
  • rice,
  • vegetables,
  • vegetable oil,
  • Antioxidant Termox Liquid (BHA + BHT).

Nutrient content:

  • protein 22.5%,
  • raw fat 13%,
  • crude fiber 3%,
  • ash 2.8%,
  • humidity 6%,
  • calcium 6 g / kg,
  • sodium 0.06%,
  • phosphorus 5 g,
  • magnesium 0.1 g,
  • selenium 0.1 mg.

Feeding method:

Dog's weight10 kg20 kg30 kg40 kg60 kgAbove 80 kg
Daily amount150 g250 g340 g430 g450 g800 g

Remember to provide your pet constant access to fresh water to drink.

Food composition: what to pay special attention to?

What to especially pay attention to?

The basic data that can be found on food packaging is information for whom the feed is intended (species, age of the animal) and this is the food a complete product.

This is the only food that guarantees the provision of all necessary nutrients in terms of quality and quantity and can be the sole food for the animal.

Without such information, we should treat karma as complementary product.

Another extremely important information is the instructions for use given on the packaging, i.e. in a nutshell how much food should be given to the animal.

I know from experience that many pet keepers have a big problem with this.

It is difficult for them to understand how to follow the table and dose such a small amount of food to a dog or cat.

Remember that most often it is a daily dose of food, which should also be divided into several really microscopic portions.

Hence the fears of many carers that their charges suffer from hunger.

We should also remember not to always strictly and blindly follow the instructions, which are based on statistical calculations for the entire population.

A single individual may need more energy due to greater physical activity, individual maintenance conditions or physiological features, hence the daily dose should sometimes be modified. A must on the package of the food absolutely find the composition of the product, so that the buyer knows what the food contains, from the ingredients with the highest percentage to the smallest.

It is a kind of recipe informing about the list of ingredients used in the preparation of food.

Manufacturers may use product categories or raw material names listed separately here.

Do not be influenced by the length of the list and the large content of numerous intermediates, considering the composition of such food as more varied and better.

It is just a different way of specifying the composition of the food.

You can write, for example, "animal products" or break them down into numerous ingredients, each listing separately.

We should certainly focus on this analysis of the composition of the feed.

This is because it describes in detail the content:

  • proteins,
  • fat,
  • carbohydrates,
  • crude fiber,
  • ash,
  • water (humidity).

At this stage, we can perfectly see the huge differences between the composition of dry and wet food:

I mean not only the percentage of water.

Well, with the most important details, dry food is many times more caloric (usually about 4 times) compared to wet, which means the small amount that we have to give to the animal to meet its energy needs.

Water content in dry food (8-10%) and wet (80%) is also visible to the naked eye.

Also protein content can vary greatly in composition of individual feeds, hence let's evaluate it comparing the amount of protein in dry matter.

Also remember that not always "more is better ":

a perfect example is kidney failure and the need to reduce protein in this condition.

Pay attention to the declarations made by the manufacturer on the product packaging that suggest specific, health-promoting properties feed ingredients.

First of all, they must be truthful and not mislead the user, provide false information that confuses the buyer.

I mean the content declarations and those informing about the special effect of the ingredients contained.

For example:

  • "feed with poultry" it must contain minimum 4% poultry meat,
  • "food rich in turkey meat" means minimum 14% of this ingredient in the final product,
  • deadline "dish "Refers to the product containing minimum 26% declared ingredient,
  • by specifying "Entire "We understand that the only source of protein is eg. chicken meat.

Very often, when composing the composition of the feed, producers use various types of fillers to reduce the price of the final product that can be found on the store shelf.

Often, on this occasion, an attempt is made to "mislead " the unaware owner by breaking down the same intermediate into individual components.

What I mean?

Well, for example, if in food composition we can read that it contains wheat, potato pulp, presswork of cereals, sprouts if wheat flour then we should do everything sum up.

Simple addition math produces a clear and readable result that indicates that carbohydrate products there is more in this food than the poultry meat mentioned in the first place.

Let us pay attention to the ones present in the karma preservatives often hidden under chemical abbreviations (e.g. BHT - butylhydroxytoluene, BHA - butylhydroxyanisole), which should not be harmful, but can sometimes be caused when consumed in large amounts damage to internal organs.

Foods, even with quite "poor composition ", are eagerly eaten by dogs and cats, which results from the skillfully applied taste attractants that is, chemicals carefully guarded by producers to make the food more attractive to the animal.

They are also often used flavor enhancers like phosphoric acid obviously changing the organoleptic properties of the food.

So not always when a given food is eagerly eaten by our pet, it must be of the highest quality.

Another feed ingredients are often used protein hydrolysates i.e. initially Plant proteins broken down into amino acids.

I do not criticize plant-derived proteins, but whether they are as digestible and available to the body of a dog or cat as the more expensive animal ones? The answer is obvious.

Applied powdered eggs though are a source of easily digestible protein, they can also cause sensitization.

Oils and i vegetable fats they carry a large dose of calories and can be unnecessarily, excessively overload the liver.

When the main ingredient of the feed will be fishmeal we can be sure that preservatives will also be added, e.g. E324, so that such karma does not deteriorate.

Similar examples could be mentioned here a lot, and these I have listed in order not to be uncritical about the information written in small print on the pet food.

And what about the recently fashionable grain-free food?

Cereals in feed: wheat

Grain-free dog food

They are becoming more and more popular on the pet food market feed that does not contain cereals which raises numerous controversies among many breeders.

So let's try to find out whether such foods are healthy for dogs and cats?

Or maybe animals need cereals in their diet and digest them very well?

Opponents the use of cereals in the diet of dogs they refer to the origin of the dog from wild wolves, which, after all, did not eat such products in nature.

Instead, they ate on the hunted bodies of their victims, that is, meat.

Recent studies have unequivocally shown that the genome of a modern dog is significantly different from that of a wolf, including in many areas related to the digestion of starch and fats.

These changes result, in short, from the process of canine domestication and the emergence of the expression of genes responsible for digestion of starch and glucose uptake.

So dogs are perfectly adapted to digesting carbohydrates which is a consequence of living with a man.

Remember that also the wild ancestors of the domestic dog did not eat the meat itself, but also the contents of the digestive tracts of their victims containing partially digested carbohydrates.

Giving your dog only meat-based foods can be downright unhealthy in the long run leading to liver disease, kidney failure or overloading the metabolism. Vegetable ingredients of the food They mainly provide the necessary energy and cannot be ignored in the karma.

So now there is a perception of the harmlessness of grains in dog food.

An exception may be highly allergenic cereals like for example. wheat, causing food allergies in allergic individuals.

In that case, of course we have to eliminate karma with the wrong composition.

We always have the option of choosing the type of grain used in the feed.

It could be just rice if corn characterized by light digestibility and very good digestibility.

So let's change the attitude to plant ingredients in the food, including cereals, and let's not treat them only as a filler that weighs down the digestive tract, but let's appreciate the vitamins, minerals and valuable nutrients they contain.

For those owners who are convinced of the bad influence of grains on the dog's body, there is also good news:

Nowadays, the producers' offer includes a lot of well-balanced food dedicated to each age group of dogs without grains.

Such feeding, provided that all other ingredients are provided, cannot be considered harmful.

Cereals are often replaced in this case with an alternative source of carbohydrates in the form of:

  • potatoes,
  • sweet potatoes,
  • amaranth,
  • tapioca.

Grain free cat food

The situation is different in the case of cats that not much metabolically different from their ancestors.

Cats are characterized by low glucokinase activity and lack of fructokinase, that is, enzymes that process carbohydrates. Cats make very little use of energy stored in carbohydrates.

Feeding them with feeds with a high content of cereal carbohydrates causes long-term high blood glucose levels that is hyperglycemia.

Hence the damage to the cells of the pancreas and diabetes is a very small step

Therefore, feeding cats high-carbohydrate foods according to the current state of knowledge does not seem like a good idea.

Cats, as ruthless carnivores, must eat foods of animal origin.

What kind of karma to avoid [examples?

Which feeds to avoid?

Try not to choose feeds, suggesting only their low price and very simplified information contained on the packaging.

Often times, such a producer simply wants to hide something from us without giving it away full composition or feed analysis. Always naming the ingredients of dog or cat food too general, e.g. protein if animal fat, should be of concern to us.

Food ingredients should be replaced as specific as possible (e.g. poultry animal fat).

Fortunately, among reputable manufacturers of such cases, we will not find out, which in a way also builds trust in their practices.

Rather, avoid foods that contain too much carbohydrates (e.g. come from corn) with a low protein component.

Too many side ingredients from the slaughterhouse is also not good for the feed.

I do not think you need to convince anyone that the less artificial colors, flavor enhancers, if chemical preservatives the better.

Some of them, while approved for use, are suspected of causing many diseases with these cancerous at the forefront.

What food to choose?

What food to choose?

This article it is not an advertisement, a has a task to sensitize dog and cat keepers to unfair practices applied by some food producers.

So remember checking out the composition of the feed, to pay particular attention to:

  1. A good, honest manufacturer will precisely list individual items on the packaging ingredients used in the production of feed (e.g. beef meal, chicken meat, mechanically recovered poultry) instead of using general terms (e.g. poultry meat).
  2. Good quality meat is one of the best things to do the main ingredients of the feed.
  3. Safe, natural preservatives (eg. vitamin E and its derivatives, antioxidant - vitamin C, citric acid).
  4. The produced feed, although in industrial conditions, does not contain artificial pigments, substances enhancing the taste and smell of the feed.

We can apply a small simplification here that unfortunately, the quality of the food often goes hand in hand with the price and those with extremely low prices will not be of high quality.

Good ingredients used in the feed production process must cost a little more.


It is worth analyzing the ingredients of the feed

The animal food market contains a huge amount of products of very different quality and composition.

Admittedly, independent studies show that most of the foods meet strict criteria contained in the FEDIAF guidelines, which undoubtedly can be enjoyed.

On the other hand, the recent quality requirements control carried out by the Trade Inspection showed weaknesses in the most commonly declared content of ingredients.

Therefore, we should not be uncritical about the information on the food packaging, but if possible, read the information about what the food was actually made of.

When in doubt, let's refrain from buying in order to calmly analyze it the composition of the feed at home.

It is worth looking for information in proven, trusted and objective sources.

Such action will certainly allow us to make the best decision for our pet more consciously and responsibly. After all, he will eat what we give him and his health depends on it.

Sources used >>

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