Using dry matter will allow you to compare protein, fiber and fat levels on the same playing field.
Protein and By-product myths
Dogs require 44 essential nutrients and cats require 48 essential nutrients. These nutrients are not in the form of a single meat protein. They contain, fat, amino acids (the building blocks to protein) and carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals. Balanced nutrition has the correct amount of these essential nutrients to maintain good health.
One current danger found in pet foods is over nutrition. Pet foods are more palatable for our pets and many contain excessive levels of fat or protein. Unfortunately, this has increased the number of pets that are overweight when following the manufacturers feeding instructions.
A common myth is that meat by-products are dangerous and not wholesome for pets to eat. According to AAFCO meat in pet food is defined as the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals, and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh. Meat by-products are the clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. Animals are meat eaters and must eat more than just muscle meat to survive. Just watch any wild animal take down prey and you will notice that the choice part of the prey to eat is the abdominal organs not the leg meat.
Human grade meat or human quality meat is a false and misleading claim on pet foods. AAFCO has no definition for human grade ingredients. Also, please remember- human grade meats can vary from Grade A to Grade E. Thus you cannot tell quality of meat with the term human grade. Once meat is purchased by a pet food company it is no longer considered good for human consumption.
So What food Should I buy?
There is no easy answer to this question. It can depend on your pets’ individual needs or preferences. It is important to consider the cost of feeding your pet as well as the digestibility of the when choosing a pet food.
What should now be clear is that the label contains useful information that can easily be manipulated by a pet food company to allow their diet to appear more healthful than competitors.
The advice you get from the pet store may not be helpful. Most pet store sales associates are not trained in nutrition and the quality of a pet food may be based on the sales pitch they received from the manufacturer.
Veterinary nutritionists are available for consultation if your pet has specific nutritional needs.