Royal Canin understands as a pet owner you want to be more informed when it comes to your pet’s nutrition. Nutrition is an evolving field. But there’s also a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to facts around what makes a product high quality, protein sources, grains, meat by-products, raw diets and variety. So what do facts or myths really mean for your pet?
Fact: The quality of a pet food does not depend on the amount or level of the ingredients it contains or the order of ingredient on the label.
Rather the quality is reflected by the amount, quality, diversity and digestibility of the nutrients the ingredients provide.
A good diet will provide a full range of nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) at the right amount specific to the individual needs of your cat or dog. When selecting the right diet for your pet, always start by identifying the quality and quantity of nutrients rather than just ingredients.
Fact: Contrary to popular belief, chicken, lamb or beef listed as the first ingredient on a label is not an indication that the diet is of higher quality or contains more protein.
The facts: Legally, ingredients must appear in descending order according to their weight in the diet before they are cooked. The total weight of the ingredient usually includes the water content and fresh meat is generally 75% water.
Some pet food manufacturers list ingredients based on the weight before they have been dehydrated. This leads to confusion about the level of protein in a diet. Dehydrated protein sources, commonly referred to as a meal (e.g. chicken meal), are a more concentrated source of digestible protein.
Fact: Many people will tell you that grains such as corn and wheat are the cause of allergies or weight gain and have no nutritional value. While an adverse food reaction may affect some cats and dogs with rare, documented food allergies, there is no evidence to support claims that grains in general cause health problems.
Grains are an important part of a balanced diet. They are naturally wholesome and packed with proteins, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Nutrients found in grains support a healthy gastrointestinal system, provide energy and much more.
When processed properly, grains contribute valuable nutrients to a pet’s diets that would be hard, if not impossible to get from a meat-only diet. In fact, properly processed grains contain far more nutrients than ingredients commonly used as replacements in grain-free diets.
The only indigestible portion of a grain is the hull, which is why Royal Canin removes the hull and grinds the grain very finely before it’s added to any of our formulas. This makes it a very effective, easily digestible and absorbed nutrient source.
Fact: There is widespread misinformation surrounding meat by-products or animal derivatives. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AFFCO) defines meat by-products/ animal derivatives as the ground, clean parts of the meat, which include organs such as lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, brain, blood and bone.
Meat by-products do not include hides, horns, hooves or teeth. Meat, on the other hand, is defined by AFFCO as the clean muscle meat (e.g. what we commonly call chicken breast) and includes muscles found in the tongue, diaphragm, heart and oesophagus.
Royal Canin only uses high-quality by-products (we refer to them as animal derivatives in our ingredient lists), like hearts, livers and lungs which are declared suitable for human consumption. When processed properly, by-products provide valuable nutrients for your pet. They are excellent sources of high quality protein, vitamins and minerals and contribute to a nutritionally balanced diet. At Royal Canin, we take great care in selecting and processing by-products for our diets. We only use suppliers whose raw materials are up to our strict standards. Our intensive food testing program double checks both quality and safety in our raw materials and finished goods.
Fact: In many cases, raw diets are not complete and balanced, often failing to provide the essential nutrients to maintain good health.
Raw diets can expose pets to pathogenic bacteria such as salmonella.
Fact: Humans may love variety, but cats and dogs don't have the same emotional attachment to food.
That's because, while we have 9,000 taste buds, dogs have 1,700 and cats only 500. Also, changes in your pet’s diets can cause digestive upsets such diarrhoea, which is why we recommend sticking to a single formula.
Fact: You might be disturbed if you saw your cat or dog eating food in the wild. The very same parts of an animal that we might throw away (e.g. bones, stomach, intestines and liver) are in fact eaten by cats and dogs in the wild.
These parts of their prey provide important nutrition.