Often browsing the internet watching advertisements, we can come across attractive slogans: grain-free food for a dog, grain-free food for a cat. Seeing this message, we are automatically encouraged to become interested in such a product, but is it an excellent dietary solution for our dogs and cats?
Protein in the diet of dogs and cats
There should be no concern about determining that dogs and cats are carnivores, especially if we are talking about cats that are ruthless carnivores. The anatomical structure, especially the teeth of dogs and cats, proves that these two species are carnivorous. Dogs and cats obtain the most nutritional value from animal protein, which means that meat should be the main ingredient in their diet. It is due to, among other things, the specific demand for exogenous amino acids, which are rich in proteins of animal origin.
The quality of the protein itself, which can be made up of even thousands of amino acids, is influenced, among others, by its source and digestibility. In turn, the protein digestibility itself results from the predisposition of a given animal, the thermal treatment of the product, and the content of other nutrients and anti-nutrients.
Regarding digestibility, proteins of animal origin are characterized by the highest digestibility, reaching even 98%. In turn, egg white has an international standard of nutritional value in terms of the composition and proportion of exogenous amino acids contained in it. In the case of vegetable proteins, the digestibility usually does not exceed 70%. It is related, among other things, to crude fiber content. We can say without a doubt that animal proteins will be better for dogs and cats.
Composition of dog and cat food – why should it be analyzed?
If we buy food for our dog or cat, turn the packaging over, read the ingredients and it is not clearly and meaningfully written for us, the red lamp should light up. If the producer focuses on the quality of his food, he should usually have nothing to hide. In good food, the priority should be a source of animal protein. You should also pay attention to itself, primarily muscle meat. Many producers, dehydrated food use some tricks to hide some not necessarily desirable ingredients. It often divides one component into more, more minor by weight or percentage.
Regarding grain-free food, the positive aspect will be so if the food is grain-free. Cereals are an unnecessary additional source of plant-based protein and a common allergen. They can also cause indigestion and other health problems. Unfortunately, however, the matter is not that simple. Just because a product is grain-free does not make it suitable. In grain-free foods, we can often find other, equally unnecessary plant-based protein sources, such as peas, soybeans, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. If the food contains many of these ingredients, it is usually not worth attention. It is straightforward to evaluate such food by calculating the dry matter carbohydrate content.
You can calculate it with A must-have dog handler and Cat guardian’s must-have.
In addition, there is also the question of rice, which is quite neglectful. Rice is also one type of cereal, so the same principle applies to it as, for example, to wheat or barley.
Carbohydrates in dog and cat food
Carbohydrates are compounds that include, among others, sugars such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, starch, and dietary fiber fractions such as cellulose.
The two groups of carbohydrates play a slightly different role in the body of dogs and cats. The former perform an energetic function, and the fiber’s primary function is to stimulate intestinal peristalsis. As it turns out, dogs and especially cats do not need carbohydrates for the proper functioning of the body.
If you are looking for fiber food, it is best to find one where the wool comes from vegetables, not grains.
Cats can obtain energy from proteins through gluconeogenesis, which in short means extracting glucose from non-sugar substrates. It is indisputable evidence of the strict carnivore of cats. Excess carbohydrates in the diet of dogs and cats very often lead to health problems such as diabetes or diseases of the liver and pancreas.
When it comes to the type of food, as a rule, wet foods contain much fewer carbohydrates than dry foods. Due to the production process itself, wherein the case of dry, to obtain a form, a dry croquette with a specific shape, it is necessary to use specific ingredients, especially starchy ingredients.
The nutritional standards do not define the maximum or minimum recommended values of carbohydrates in the diet of dogs and cats. Therefore, it is problematic to answer how many carbohydrates should be in dog and cat food. However, the most important thing is to be moderate, and my recommendation is the fewer carbohydrates, the better.
Grain-free food – a healthy dietary solution, but under certain conditions
In conclusion, whether or not a food contains grains should not be the only criteria for its selection. It will be a positive aspect if it does not have them, but we should always analyze the entire composition and pay attention to whether the food contains other “hooks.”
In my dietary practice, I never recommend dry food, e.g., precisely because of the higher carbohydrate content. Unfortunately, such food is also highly processed and contains low moisture, which is not natural in the nutrition of dogs and cats.
As one of the best dietary solutions for dogs and cats, I often recommend the BARF diet. However, I realize that not everyone has such a diet, so in this situation, it is worth knowing what it should stand for suitable food for a dog or cat.