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Balancing on the dog diet

The abundance of complete dog foods creates the problem of choice for the owner. Often not the foods that have a real authority in Europe and USA gain popularity, but the foods, which came to Russia in the frontline and are promoted more intensively, sometimes even by professional cynologists and vets.

The question "How to choose the food correctly" is not so easy. On the one hand there are numerous kinds of commercially prepared foods of many classes, on the other - the fellowship of pedigree and non-pedigree dogs of different age, health, activity and after all, with different tastes and habits.

The classification of complete dry foods assumes three major groups:
1. The highest category (Super Premium)
2. The first category (Premium)
3. Foods you can find in supermarkets, grocery stores and so on (Grocery Utilitarian)

Considerable difference between these three categories is due to their contents. For example, Super Premium class foods do not contain artificial colors or preservatives. If any by-products, they answer the highest quality standards.

Would it be interesting for the reader to compare the economy of different class foods?

Table 1

Super Premium
Grocery Utilitarian
Cups a day (250 ml=100 g) for a dog weighing about 23 kg (1 kg approx 2.2 lb) 2-3 3-4 4-7

Explanation: The higher the food quality so is the density of nutrients per unit volume, the quality and digestibility of ingredients, and thus the assimilability by the organism. So, the higher is the quality the lesser is the amount needed to satisfy hunger and maintain the dog's health at its' optimum.

Without going into the detailed comparison of these three categories let's just remind the tested fact: only using the Super Premium class foods you provide your dog the 100 percent well-balanced diet so that she doesn't need any supplements. But when looking for what your dog exactly needs it's not enough just to make sure there is the mark "Super Premium" on the package. Don't be lazy to look through the list of the ingredients on the backside and pay attention to the order in which they are named (ingredients are listed in the descending quantity order). Let's see how different ingredients contribute to the nutritional value of the food.

To grow and to maintain normal activity dogs need 22 amino acids, which are the bricks for building proteins in the organism. Ten of 22 are essential amino acids, i.e. can't be synthesized within the animal with a unicameral stomach (monogastric), such as a carnivore. Hence, these amino acids must be received from outside, i.e. with food. In Table 2 we compare plant and animal proteins for the amount of essential amino acids to show that it is much easier to make up the deficiency for essential amino acids using animal proteins.

Comparative analysis of amino acids content in animal and plant proteins

Table 2

Amino acid
Mammal meat
Methionine .65% 1.2% 1.9% .2% .17%
Cystine .35% 1.0% .6% .18% .1%
Lysine 2.40% 2.7% 4.7% .24% .1 8%
Tryptophan .29% .5% .7% .09% .1%
Threonine 1.7% 2.0% 2.8% .26% .2%
Arginine 3.5% 4.0% 3.6% .36% .36%

The table shows how much mammal, bird and fish proteins differ from each other by the content of amino acids. Therefore, when the food includes all three kinds of animal proteins, no doubt, it is more complete than the food containing only two or even a single kind. Only some of Super Premium class foods have the so-called three-protein base.

As well-known, fats are the main source of energy. Therefore the fats' quality and origin determine their digestibility and transformation in biochemical and biothermal reactions of the organism. For the carnivore organism (like the dog's) it is natural (and hence, the better) to obtain animal fats, especially the fusible ones. These can be received out of chicken, cubs of several mammal species and fish oil. Super Premium and Premium class foods include only these high-quality fats and never mineral oils.

To prevent oxidation and rancidity, i.e. accumulation of toxins and free radicals, which are harmful, as known to all, the food producers "stabilize" fats by adding antioxidants. As a rule, for Super Premium foods they use only natural antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, activated animal styrene, rosemary extract.

One more thing to add is that only Super Premium and Premium foods contain 11 to 15 vitamins, including such expensive vitamins like biotine, and the rich set of microelements prepared so as to be digestible, as well as the minerals. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus is kept in between 1:1 to 1:2 according to the living stage of the organism.

The nutritive quality of the food will be higher if the extract of Yucca schidigera and Corn Germ Meal (in the form of flour) is added.

The Yucca schidigera extract reduces the amount and foul smell of feces, and prevents excessive gases in the digestive tract.

Corn germs flour is rich in a high-quality corn oil, containing polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic, arachidonic, omega-6, omega-3 and others) which maintain skin, hair and intestines in good condition and regulate excretion of cholesterol.

And finally, the best foods of the highest categories always include "friendly microflora" to stimulate digestion and assimilation of ingredients. This is what makes it economic for the customer.

In conclusion we'd like to emphasize that though feeding a dog with dry foods is obviously better (no problem with preparing meals, economy, permanent composition, long-life storage, etc.), the advantage is revealed only when you make a proper choice that fits your pet best. Offer him the best quality food you can afford, and if you were right, in couple of weeks you'll be able to see the result - bright eyes, perfect hair, absence of dandruff, excellent appetite, wonderful mood, and very good health in your pet!

Translated by Tatiana Karpova (Moscow)
(MSU, Biology faculture, Dep. zoology and ecology).