Pet stores offer a huge selection of foods for every taste and budget from various manufacturers. It is very easy to get lost in their assortment. You need to understand the needs of pets to find a decent and suitable dry food for your pet. Also you need to know what classes of foods exist and the way they differ from each other.
When choosing the food, keep in mind that cats and dogs are predators. Their body, digestive and enzyme systems are fully adapted to the uptake of products of animal origin. Foods with a high content of meat, high-quality by-products - sources of complete protein, as well as animal fats, are well digested and absorbed by the animal body.
Regarding carbohydrate sources in the food, low-to-medium-low glycemic index carbohydrates (batata, legumes, potatoes, oats) are acceptable in pet diets. Fast carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (wheat, corn, white rice) cause a rapid increase in blood sugar and insulin levels. Then there is an equally rapid decline and a feeling of hunger. Fast carbohydrates cause an increased load on the organs and enzyme system of animals. With prolonged consumption of food containing fast carbohydrates, carbohydrate metabolism is disturbed, that can lead to diseases.
The glycemic index (GI) – is a rate at which carbohydrates in a food are digested by the body and raise blood sugar levels. There are high GI fast carbs and low to medium GI slow carbs.
Let's move on to the classification of foods. At the moment, there are 4 classes of dry food for cats and dogs on the market: economy, premium, super-premium and holistic.
Economy – food containing 4-6% of low-quality meat ingredients, vegetable protein, cereals, corn, artificial flavors and preservatives. They have a low nutritional value for animals and a low price.
Premium – food containing 20-35% of meat, meat by-products and vegetable components. They have an average nutritional value and an average price.
Super-premium – foods containing 35-50% of meat and quality meat by-products, barley, rice and sweet potato as sources of carbohydrates, complex of vitamins and minerals, but they do not contain artificial flavors. They have a fairly high nutritional value and a medium-high price.
Holistics (holistic is translated as - “whole”) - foods containing more than 50% of meat; sweet potato, legumes - as a source of slow carbohydrates; a full complex of vitamins and minerals, supplemented with vegetables, fruits, berries. Holistics do not contain artificial flavors or preservatives. They have a high nutritional value and a high price.
It is possible to single out the main patterns that are developed from the economy class food to the holistic class food:
- improving the quality of feed ingredients (excluding vegetable protein, increasing the content of animal protein, improving the quality of carbohydrates - from fast to slow);
- increasing the function of maintaining the health of pets by including a full range of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients;
- the switch from an unbalanced composition to a balanced one, approaching a natural diet.
Thus, it can be concluded that the foods of higher classes, as much as possible correspond to the physiological needs of pets in all nutrients and biologically active substances.
Features of holistic foods
So, holistics are foods that meet the natural needs and principles of proper nutrition of pets in the best way, ensuring healthy and active longevity of pets.
Signs of a quality holistic:
1) High nutritional value:
- sources of animal rather than vegetable protein predominate: the amount of meat should be at least 50%;
- the source of animal protein must be of high quality: the best solution is dehydrated and fresh meat containing a full range of essential and non-essential amino acids;
- Confirmation of high meat content – food’s composition. The ingredients from the composition are indicated on the packaging in descending order of mass fraction, therefore, in real holistic food the dehydrated and fresh meat ingredients should come first.
2) Only slow carbohydrates:
- we recommend choosing foods where the source of carbohydrates is not cereals, but vegetables and legumes, and only with a low or medium-low glycemic index (peas, sweet batata, potatoes);
- if grain-free foods are not suitable for your pet for any reason (features of the animal), then it is recommended to choose lowgrain foods with cereals with an average glycemic index (oats, brown rice);
- there should not be corn, wheat, white rice in the composition of the food – pretender to be called holistic, - these ingredients are unusual for the body of animals as they have high glycemic index. They increase the risk of metabolic disorders, obesity and diabetes in animals.
3) Sources of fiber and nutrients - vegetables, herbs, fruits:
they are important for proper digestion and strengthening of the immune system, as well as for achieving the ideal ratio of fiber, fats, proteins, carbohydrates. They must be present in the composition, but without much variety. The more plant components in the composition of various types, the higher the risk of intolerance to one of them. Allergies may appear.
4) Ingredients for health promotion, disease prevention:
they have a significant supporting effect on an average of 5 vital systems of the body. They contain a full complex of fat- and water-soluble vitamins (A, D3, E, group B), minerals in the most bioavailable form. The food also contains glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acids (taurine, L-carnitine, methionine), omega-3 fatty acids, natural probiotics and prebiotics, other active substances and phytonutrients.
holistics do not contain artificial colors, preservatives, flavor enhancers, flavors, salt, sugar. Manufacturers use safe natural preservatives - mixtures of tocopherols instead of that to maintain the quality of food.
6) Approaching to the natural diet of animals:
holistic foods, generally, are 100% natural foods that meet the animal's physiological nutritional needs in the best way. They help keeping your pet active. They are as close as possible to the natural food of cats and dogs in respect of eating experience. Animals eat them with pleasure.
Manufacturing technology is also important. Steam technology preserves the benefits of meat and other ingredients. With gentle heat treatment, the nutritional value, enzymatic composition and taste of the ingredients are preserved. Thus, the manufacturer ensures excellent digestibility of the finished food by almost 100%.
How to choose the right holistic food for cats and dogs
In order to choose the right food, you must:
— analyze the composition of holistic foods on the market;
— choose a brand that meets the criteria for holistic food;
— choose from the assortment of the brand a dry food that is suitable for your pet, taking into account the state of his health and lifestyle.
The checklist for food should look like this:
- the first place in the composition - dehydrated, as well as fresh meat. Totally not less than 50%;
- grain-free food - vegetables and legumes with a low and medium glycemic index (peas, batata or potatoes) are in the composition or low-grain - cereals with an average glycemic index (oats, brown rice) are in the composition;
- vegetables, herbs, fruits - sources of fiber and nutrients are in the composition;
- there are components to maintain the health of the body systems: a full complex of vitamins (A, D3, E, B groups, biotin), calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin, prebiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids (taurine, L-carnitine, methionine);
- contains no wheat, soy, gluten, artificial flavors, colors, artificial preservatives;
- it is good if the food is made with the using of steam technology.
Avoid buying the food that contains incomprehensible definitions of ingredients - «protein of animal origin», «poultry protein», «byproducts», meat and bone and any other meal, starch, gluten.
In order to choose the dry food from the brand’s assortment that meets the needs of your pet, you need to take into account the basic criteria - age and weight (relevant for dogs of different breeds), and the pet’s taste preferences. And also you need to take into account the state of health and other characteristics of the animal.
Criteria for choosing food, taking into account the state of health and other characteristics of the pet:
- castration, sterilization: if the animal is castrated (neutered), then it is better to choose the appropriate dry food. As a rule, food for castrated and sterilized animals has a lower fat content, optimal content and ratio of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, special additives for weight control, pH control of urine, and prevention of urolithiasis;
- pet’s activity: if the animal is active and healthy, then you can safely choose the food with a high content of protein and fat. If the animal is low active, then it is better to choose a food with a reduced content of protein and fat (for castrated animals, with the designation Indoor, Low-active);
- allergy: If the animal has an allergy or a tendency to allergic reactions, then it is necessary to choose a dry food without the use of allergens. If the pet is allergic to grains, choose a grain-free diet. If the pet is allergic to chicken protein, you should choose food with other meat ingredients. Optimal hypoallergenic sources of animal protein are lamb, turkey or fish;
- Hair coat condition: to improve the condition and appearance of the hair, we recommend choosing the food with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids in stores;
- hair length: if the animal has long hair, then you can choose food that removes hair from the stomach and intestines;
- the presence of diseases of the digestive tract, liver, kidneys, pancreas; obesity, diabetes mellitus: in this case, you need to choose a food after consulting a veterinarian. Most likely, during periods of treatment and exacerbation of the disease, a food from a line of veterinary diets will be prescribed to your animal. During periods of reduction or disappearance of signs and symptoms of the disease (remission), it is necessary to choose a food on the base of the recommendation of a veterinarian.
Here are the most common criteria that will help you to choose the right holistic food for your pet.
When choosing a pet food, we suggest you to pay attention to Elato food — natural, nutritious, healthy food with excellent palatability, which is made in Italy and is a high-quality holistic food.
Want to learn more about Elato? Follow the link — Elato Holistic Food