The last post was on topic of dog food labels, where we omitted the guaranteed analysis. This time we tackle the most important yet hardest to understand part of the declaration… and connect it to PAWSM and the perfect meal.
Guaranteed analysis or typical analysis tells you how much of which nutrient is contained in your dog food. Between the US and EU there are slight differences in how and which information is stated. In the US the minimum percentage of crude protein and crude fat, and maximum percentage of moisture and fiber must be stated; while in the EU the law dictates that the label states the average amount of crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber and ash from several samples. Also moisture must be stated if it exceeds 14%.
The term crude refers to the method of testing and not, as one might assume, the quality of the nutrient.
Next we’ll take a look at each important nutrient stated in guaranteed analysis:
Proteins are organic compounds, made out of amino acids connected via peptide bonds. Some of these amino acids the dog’s body creates on its own (non-essential amino acids), and some need to be ingested (essential amino acids). It is necessary to balance amino acids in these proteins and various types of diets require different supplements (for example in vegetable based diets for dogs the amino acid Taurin is added).
Excess of protein in dog’s diet can also be detrimental; overfeeding puppies with protein can lead to skeletal issues in adult life.
Proteins are used by the body as both as a building block of hormones, enzymes, tissues,… as well as an energy source. The protein amount required varies in dog’s life stages.
Fats are the most efficient energy source. There are essential and non-essential types of fats, both of which are absolutely essential for life. The difference is that non-essential can be made by the dog’s body, while the essential ones must be derived from an outside source (plant or animal matter).
There is a lot that could be written about types of fats, and their composition, but the main use that the dog’s body has for them in addition to being used as energy source and a source of essential fats is the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.
Unbalanced (deficient) diet of fats can cause growth issues, hinders physical ability and causes weight loss. Overfeeding of fats on the other hand can cause pancreatitis, cardiovascular and heart problems.
Carbohydrates are primarily a source of energy, but can also help with digestion. They can be found in forms of fiber, starch and sugar. Dogs use starches and sugar as a form of energy, while fiber helps with digestion. Fiber can be either soluble or insoluble.
Carbohydrates are the first and most efficient energy source, once these run out the body turns to converting fats and protein into energy.
The correct amount of carbohydrates VS protein and fats as an energy source is a constant source of debate among dog nutritionists.
Dogs cannot convert fiber into energy, but it is used in other ways. There are soluble and insoluble fibers. The soluble fibers are useful for growth of “good” bacteria in the dog’s digestive tract. Those bacteria helps keep the dogs digestive system healthy. The insoluble fiber absorbs water and assists in gut mobility.
When dealing with moisture it is important to understand, that moisture is not just filler, but a reflection of the raw materials used. For example muscle meat used in dog food naturally contains approximately 75% moisture; therefore dog food does not contain 25% muscle meat and 75% water, but 100% muscle meat and 75% moisture. Dry foods though, are simply dehydrated versions of the original.
Using dry food increases the amount of water a dog has to drink, and vice versa. There are benefits to both types of foods, and it is recommended to use a mix.
Represents the mineral content of the food. After the food is incinerated for the purpose of testing, the residue represents the amount of mineral nutrients (calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron,…).
EU requires dog foods to also list additives: Vitamins, copper, preservatives, antioxidants and coloring agents.
So what goes in a perfect (balanced) dog meal?
Here is where PAWSM shines through, as it helps you mathematically apply the list below in conjunction with your dog’s data you provide and the guaranteed analysis of your chosen food.
- Protein: 15-30%
- Fats: 5+%
- Carbohydrates: 40-50%
- Fiber: under 5%
- Calcium: 0,5-0,8%
- Potassium: 0,6%
- (Calcium : Phosphorus): 1:1 / 2:1
The list above is pretty much the content of any commercially available “complete and balanced” dog food; and barring any special conditions it meets all of dog’s needs. It’s just a matter of dosage; and that’s where it all gets very technical.
The energy balance
All of dog’s movement, breathing and all other bodily functions expend energy. In case of dog nutrition, the typical unit for energy use is the calorie (specifically gram calorie: defined as the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree celsius).
Because the calorie is a very small unit the kilocalorie (kcal) or 1000 calories is in use. Joule (official SI unit of energy) is also occasionally used; 1 calorie = 4.184 joules. The energy requirement for a dog is typically given as kcal/day.
Energy balance is the difference between the energy intake and energy expenditure; meaning for example: if the dog eats less calories than he’s spending, he will start losing weight. The amount of energy required to maintain the dog in the state of energy balance is usually referred to as maintenance energy requirement; which means that the energy intake and expenditure are the same.
There is more science underneath; resting energy expenditure, activity related energy expenditure, heat increments (thermic effect of feeding) and facultative thermogenesis (heat regulation) and more. However understanding energy balance should suffice for now.
So what does PAWSM do?
PAWSM app helps you balance it all out. The nutrient requirements and the energy requirements. It tells you where your dog should be weight wise, and helps you get there. It also helps you find food in case of special diets.
In short, it makes your life easier and your dog’s life healthier. And ultimately, that’s what we all want.