What does that dog food analysis label mean? Are the numbers accurate? Doesn't the source count? Do you want protein from corn, chicken feathers or meat? Crude protein might really be crude after all.
Are we pulling the wool over our eyes?
I got to thinking about dog food labels and while I've discussed ingredients on many pages, I've not mentioned the little box on the dog food bag containing the analysis.
You know, crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and moisture.
The guaranteed protein, fat and fiber content percentages in the dog food analysis used to be the focal point for me back in the day. (Meaning I don't want to admit that was 30 years ago - yikes!)
I assumed there was more meat if the crude protein was higher than other choices and while that may be true, it doesn't mean it's accurate.
What do I mean? The source of protein is definitely a factor. As Dr. Marty Goldstein pointed out, "Boot leather cooked into oblivion can qualify as a protein source." Does that make it food? (I shudder)
Lets Look at the Dog Food Label Analysis
To top it off, a dog food label that informs you of crude protein (which they all do) rather than true protein content would not accurately reflect the nutritive value of the protein-containing food.
The way I understand it, crude protein only works for herbivores like cows. Why? Because of those 4 stomachs, they have the ability to increase the protein from the grains they eat. We cannot. Dogs cannot. And aren’t most dog foods made mostly of grains? You got it.
This leads me to believe just about anything you cook for your dog that is meat based is totally awesome and the less grains and starches we use, the better. After all, dogs don’t NEED grains. Would you feed fish to a cow? See what I mean?
By the way, dogs need a minimum of 40% protein, not 21%. Anyway, getting back to the dog food analysis, has anyone added up those percentages?
Here's a few examples. The first from a cheap dog food and the second from a high quality dog food:
Crude Protein (min): 21.0%
Crude Fat (min): 10.0%
Crude Fiber (max):10.0%
Moisture (max): 4.0%
Total analysis percentage 45%
Crude Protein (min): 42.0%
Crude Fat (min): 22.0%
Crude Fiber (max): 5.5%
Moisture (max): 10.0%
Total analysis percentage = 79%
With the high quality canine fare there is 21% left over. I can kind of see where that could be since the analysis is based on minimums.
But the cheap dog food (ie, grocery store, Target, Walmart etc.) only accounts for 45%. What the h- (excuse me) What the heck is in there? They account for less that half!
What didn't they list? Carbohydrates. Something we need but dogs do not. Now here's what's funny (not funny hah-hah).
Major dog food manufacturers listened to our complaints about too many grains, so they switched it to potatoes, pea starch etc. But guess what? They are all carbohydrates. What does this mean to your dog? Not much difference because both raise insulin levels (think canine diabetes) since both are starch and dogs don't metabolize starches as well as proteins and healthy fats.
If any of this is a shock to you, please read 27 Dog Food Ingredients to Avoid which lists things that are not food and toxic; and a Dog Food Comparison which lists food types (both home prepared and manufactured into tiers of most to least healthy.)
Now you know why (coupled with these other linked pages) I promote you being responsible for your canines diet. If you serve raw dog food, cooked dog food or manufactured dog food, it's up to you but be sure you know the levels of quality. Keep in mind, the cheaper the dog food, the higher the vet bills.
Let's do our own dog food analysis. The best quality dog food is a variety of human grade protein from muscle and organ meat, bones for calcium and healthy fats. Variety doesn't just mean taste. It means an array of vitamins, phytonutrients and minerals.
Whenever I hear the saying that "Variety is the spice of life", I think of food that keeps the immune system in tip top shape because nutrition makes us all feel so good.
That leaves a choice of spending a lot of time researching to find quality premade brands or make your own dog food. Making dog food for your companion should be enjoyable and not be terribly time consuming. Once you get the hang of it, you feel a sense of pride as your dog's appearance and stamina increase.