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The Naturavetal® Feeding Guide – Nutrition is What Matters!

Learn everything you need to know about the importance of food in our food guide. Whether your dog is super active or a couch potato - optimal, natural feeding is essential if your dog is to grow old happily, healthily, and balanced. Ideally, a high-quality food should be fed that does not contain any metabolism-disturbing additives and naturally provides the energy that dogs require, resulting in cheerful dogs who are simply doing well. 

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Should you have any questions on this topic, we will be happy to provide you with comprehensive advice. 

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What is important when it comes to food?

As a pet owner, you want the best for your pet. However due to the many different feeding options and the variety of food available, you can be easily overwhelmed. This is the case for many pet owners, finding it increasingly difficult to decide on the right food for their pet. If diseases or allergies are added, the uncertainty increases, because the correct feeding then becomes particularly important.

Our foundation has always been to combine nutrition with holistic feeding concepts that can be adapted to the individual needs of each dog and cat. In addition, it has always been our goal to share this knowledge with our customers and pass it on to them. In our food guide, we have collected some basic background information that give you an initial overview of the food declaration law, additives, natural nutrients, and other topics.

What do the different manufacturing processes mean?

In the dry food sector, the most commonly produced types of food are the so-called extruded foods, which are produced in the extruder. However, there are also baked dry foods and cold-pressed dry foods, and the so-called dry BARF is also becoming increasingly popular.

Manufacturing processes

Our cold-pressed food

Our cold-pressed food is special because the raw materials are individually carefully processed.  The meat is dried and ground so that it can be pressed. The grain is broken down using a unique process over hot steam and thus made digestible. The vegetables and herbs are added in air-dried form just before cold pressing. This ensures a particularly high bioavailability of the individual ingredients. 

Cold pressing uses a short ambient pressure to protect the vital nutrients. As a result, vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances are largely retained. Our cold-pressed food does not swell in the stomach, which reduces the risk of stomach torsion. Our cold-pressed food is a natural and therefore more species-appropriate food for dogs and also for cats.

Extruded food

Extruded food are dog and cat foods that are pressed under high pressure and high heat. Temperatures between approx. 140 - 200°C are reached. At this temperature, many vital vitamins and nutrients are altered or destroyed. These are then artificially replaced. In addition, additives such as colourants and flavourings are often used to increase acceptance. 

The mass is pressed into shape with great pressure through a die and then sprayed with fat. This makes the pellets look nicer for the owner, prevents rancidity, avoids abrasion, and should also increase acceptance (by influencing the taste). Many additives are suspected of triggering metabolic disorders and allergies.

Baked dry food

In the case of baked dry food, the individual raw materials are ground, chopped and mixed into a paste, usually with the addition of water. Pieces are then formed or cut from this pulp. These are then baked in the oven. In this process, temperatures of up to approx. 150 °C are used until the originally raw dough is completely baked. 

The advantage of this manufacturing process is that the resulting pellets show little or no swelling. The disadvantage, however, is that the high temperatures can destroy or change vital nutrients and vitamins, which is why they are usually added artificially.

Dry BARF

Dry BARF is based on BARF, but the individual ingredients are not raw and fresh, but dried. This makes them much more durable. The drying process also changes the volume of the individual ingredients, and the food ration always has to soak in water for a while before the dog can eat it.

Our wet food cooking method

The raw meat is minced, then added to the remaining ingredients for our recipes and then briefly cooked in the packaging. This ensures a traditional manufacturing method that allows the absence of preservatives.

Declaration law – how to read the label

There are numerous EU and UK regulations, laws and guidelines on how feed must be labelled. The labelling (i.e. the declaration) contains the following information: composition, ingredients, additives, feeding instructions and, optional voluntary information.

Declaration law

List of Ingredients

It is a legal requirement that the order of the ingredients listed on the packaging should be equated to their proportion in the feed. The ingredient that comes first must therefore be the main component of the feed. A distinction must be made here between an open and a closed declaration.

Open declaration

The individual feed components are given in the order in which they are contained in the feed in terms of quantity. At Naturavetal® everything is declared openly and transparently.

Closed declaration

In the case of a closed declaration, the ingredients are combined into feed groups and declared. This means that, for example, "grain" can be declared. According to Appendix 3 of the feed regulation, grain can mean the following: "All types of grain, regardless of their presentation, as well as products from the processing of the endosperm". 

This includes just about everything as it doesn't say what grain it is, nor what part of the plant. Inferior plant parts are often used here for economic reasons. To know exactly what you are feeding, you would have to ask the manufacturer.

Animal and vegetable by-products

These terms can include valuable ingredients such as heart, liver, millet, or rice grains, but also inferior, nutritionally questionable, or poorly digestible components that are often left over from food production for humans. These include, for example, fur, feathers, claws or peels (e.g., of potatoes), leaves, roots, or stalks. We do not process these by-products. 

So, if there is no explanation behind the term "by-products" as to what it is, you should always be sceptical - a responsible manufacturer who processes high-quality ingredients will present them to you and not hide them.

Meat sources and what can be hidden behind the various terms for meat

Although the type of meat is advertised on the packaging, this does not automatically mean that high-quality meat is contained in the feed. For example, a can of dog food that is advertised with "lamb" must contain only 4% of lamb according to the law. The rest can be pork, beef and other meat sources. Thus, the can of dog food withe the flavor lamb can consist of 4 or more different types of meat. For an allergy dog, this is very problematic. In addition, it is not clear whether the 4% lamb and the rest of the content is of high quality or consists exclusively of inferior slaughterhouse waste or low-quality offal. It also makes a big difference how the processed meat is labelled.

Meat sources

Meat origin and food quality

You often find terms such as “meat from animals used for human food production” on certain feedstuffs. It is important to mention that every manufacturer of feed for dogs and cats uses meat from the same slaughtered animal that is also used for human consumption. 

The moment the meat is processed into animal feed, it automatically belongs to so-called category 3 and loses the designation "food quality", even though it comes from the same slaughtered animal from which the meat for humans was produced. This division into category 3 has a legal background to which all feed manufacturers must adhere. Unhealthy slaughter animals that are not suitable for human consumption are neither used for the production of food for humans, nor the production of animal food. 

Only animals that are safe for human consumption are processed as dog or cat food. Their most beautiful parts, such as the perfect fillet pieces, are used for humans and the remaining meat (above all meat and fat trimmings as well as innards such as heart, liver, kidneys, lungs or tongue) is processed to animal food. However, this does not affect the quality of the nutrients contained and the slaughtered animal is economically and optimally utilised. 

Inferior animal by-products such as feather meal, claws or horn are not used in high-quality feeds such as Canis Plus® and Felins Plus®. Our open declaration assures you of our high food quality and standards. We don’t use inferior animal by-products such as those mentioned previously including claws or feather meal and all synthetic additives. The quality of the entire feed and a species-appropriate recipe are important for a long, healthy life.

Poultry

This declaration usually covers all parts of the entire animal, including beak, claws, feathers, etc. If it were only the meat, it could also be labelled as poultry meat. The processed parts are weighed before drying because they are heavier if they still contain a lot of moisture. The manufacturer can now write poultry further up in the list of ingredients, which can give the impression that the food contains a lot of poultry.

Poultry meat

These are the meaty parts of poultry. It is weighed as fresh meat before drying, because the weight is higher than after drying due to the water contained in the meat. However, when customers buy a kibble it is dry, so it shouldn't matter what the weight of the meat was when it still contained 60-70% water. However, the manufacturer can now put poultry meat first in the composition. 

This trick suggests to the customer that poultry meat is the main component of the feed.

Poultry meat meal

Here the poultry meat is weighed after drying, so the 60-70% of water contained are already subtracted. Despite the same amount of fresh meat as with poultry meat, this value is lower and appears further down in the list of ingredients. 

However, since this information is the most honest, we use this form of declaration.

Poultry meal

The same applies as explained above under "poultry", but it is weighed after drying.

Grains and other sources of carbohydrates

Over the last few years, grain-based dog foods have become increasingly discredited, with many pet owners often not really knowing for what reason. The prevailing opinion is that grain is one inferior ingredient, because at some point someone mentioned something bad about feeding grain. Most people do not know which plants belong to the grain family and they also don´t know that there are several of them. It´s sentences like: "I only feed grain-free dog food, but if I want to add something special to my dog´s meal, I add rice to the food", which show how much ignorance prevails here. There are many more myths that we would now like to take a closer look at.

Grains and other sources of carbohydrates

Cereals and allergies

An allergy can only arise through a first contact. Since in the past most dog food contained several types of grain, a correspondingly large number of "prone to develop allergy"-dogs had contact to different types of grain at the same time and therefore reacted allergic to grain. Nowadays, grain-free feeding is a trend and more and more pet owners feed grain-free dry food, which contains potatoes or the like. As a direct result there are more dogs who are allergic to potatoes, but tolerate grain very well. So what we see is that the occurrence of allergies follows the feeding trend.

For a normally healthy dog, it is not a problem at all if grain is contained in his feed. The quantities must be appropriate, the manufacturer must use high-quality raw materials that are processed carefully and he must not process any vegetable by-products such as stalks or roots. We have always dispensed with these by-products and rely on the nutrients of the whole grain, which is gently broken down so that the valuable raw fibres are retained. If you would like to know more about it, please have a look here.

In case of an existing grain allergy, it is of course necessary to feed the dog grain-free. You can find out more about this in our guide “ Grain-free dog food – more than a trend”. 

Grain allergy or gluten intolerance?

Many dogs that appear to have a grain allergy do not react to the grain at all but are generally sensitive to the gluten contained in the grain. 

The problem with gluten intolerance is also very widespread among us humans. Even people who tolerate gluten reasonably well often develop digestive problems after consuming large amounts. It can also happen to our dogs that they are sensitive to gluten. That's why we only use gluten-free ingredients in our foods.

Cereal- and meat content

Every dry food has a higher vegetable content than a wet food because this vegetable content ensures that the food is compressible. The carbohydrates are indispensable for this. If you want to feed as high a meat content as possible or as low a carbohydrate content as possible, you will generally have to avoid feeding dry food. In those cases wet food like our Canis Plus® Complete Meals is much more suitable for the dog.

Grain and the hyper dog

If the dog gets food that contains a high proportion of quickly digestible carbohydrates and at the same time too little crude fibre, the blood sugar level can rise rapidly. If the food additionally contains a lot of fat and protein, the dog may suddenly have much more energy available than needed. If he is already rather jittery and restless, then it can easily happen that the excess of energy causes him to "overreact". However, not the grain is responsible for this, it´s the raw material quality of the processed grain and the overall composition of the food, which is probably not suitable for the dog. For more information on how food can affect your dog´s behaviour, see our guide “The connection between diet and behaviour in the dog”.

With our Canis Plus®, we make sure that the raw materials we process are high-quality nutrient suppliers. These are gently broken down so that the dog can use them effectively - for example, we use whole grain rice instead of white polished rice. Brown rice contains far more nutrients and far more crude fibre than white polished rice. Our formulas are tailored to the dog's needs and designed so that they don't "overwhelm" the body with "fast" energy, but provide relatively constant energy over a longer period - this way, a sudden excess of energy that affects the dog's behaviour can be avoided.

But please note the following: Many dogs are food lovers and show their owners this immediately after eating by happily running around their legs - if this behaviour is positively encouraged, it is quite possible that the dog will show it more and more. This is something learned and not a sign of over excitement.

What does "analytical constituents" mean?

EU feed legislation stipulates that every manufacturer of dog or cat food must provide information on the analytical ingredients. The "Weender analysis" is used to determine these values, crude protein, fat content, crude ash and crude fibers are analysed. For feed with a moisture content of more than 14%, the moisture must also be stated.

Analytical constituents

Crude protein

Crude protein refers to the sum of all nitrogen compounds in the feed. As this includes all animal and vegetable proteins, the value says nothing about the protein quality. The essential amino acids in particular are needed to build up and maintain the body's substances, and these must be ingested through the diet. If an excess of low-quality proteins is fed, this can be the cause of many illnesses. On the other hand, feeding the same amount of high-quality protein from muscle meat and offal ensures an adequate supply of essential amino acids.

The best feed is therefore not the one with the highest crude protein value, but the one with the highest quality proteins in an appropriate overall ratio - as is reliably the case with our range of feeds.

Fat content

The fat content indicates how much vegetable- and animal fat is contained in the food. So you cannot tell from this information whether the food contains a lot of animal fat or just vegetable oils. Fat is the most important source of energy. In addition, fat also serves to transport nutrients and protect organs and nerves.

Some fatty acids cannot be synthesised by the body itself and must be obtained from food (essential fatty acids). As a rule, animal fats contain mainly saturated fatty acids. In contrast, the valuable unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are mainly found in fish and certain plants. Excess energy/fat is stored in the body in depots.

Crude fibre

Here you will find the proportion of dietary fibre that is of absolute importance for intestinal peristalsis and thus for regulated digestion. Crude fibres support, among other things, the good intestinal bacteria and thus create an ideal physiological intestinal environment.

Crude ash

The crude ash contains the inorganic components of the feed. These are minerals and trace element compounds. The determination is carried out by ashing in a muffle furnace at 550°C. The difference between the dry matter and the crude ash represents the organic substance. These are crude protein, fat content, crude fibers and nitrogen-free extractives.

The general opinion that a high crude ash value puts a lot of strain on the kidneys only applies to artificial vitamins and minerals. Our food contains only high-quality raw materials. Therefore, its crude ash value represents a positive criterion for an ideal supply of minerals and trace elements to the animals.

What are nutrients?

Nutrition is basically composed of proteins (protein), fats (lipids), carbohydrates (saccharides), as well as vitamins, minerals, trace elements and water. These nutrients are crucial for a species-appropriate and healthy life, the body of dogs and cats depends on them to optimally function.

Nutrients

Vitamins

In their original form, natural vitamins fulfil very specific functions. Our different types of feed are naturally vitaminised and mineralised with natural ingredients. However, many pet owners wrongly orientate themselves on the feeding tables mainly on the amounts of the individual vitamins to determine whether their pet is sufficiently supplied. 

The decisive factor is not how much, but the real usability of vitamins and minerals. However, pet owners are more likely to perceive the quantity and want to use it to cover an alleged deficiency. In the course of time, this can lead to an oversupply that is pathogenic if more than just the vitamins that are actually required are ingested. 

Artificial, synthetic vitamins lack the natural variety. They are poorly processed by the body and have a severe impact on the metabolism of the liver and kidneys. Synthetic vitamins can be identified on the packaging, for example by the word “additives”. Since no artificial vitamins are processed in our feed, this term is of course not listed.

You can find more information about vitamins in our guide "Vital Vitamins". 

Minerals

Minerals are involved in various tasks in the body. For example, they support bone formation and contribute significantly to the health-maintaining functions of the immune system.

You can find out more about the topic of minerals in our guide "Important minerals".

Calcium - Phosphorus

Calcium is one of the most important minerals in the animal organism, it is mostly stored in bones and teeth and is present in small amounts in the blood. It is indispensable for building and maintaining the skeleton and teeth, supports blood clotting and maintains the function of muscles and nerves. Phosphorus is an elementary partner of calcium and the building material of bones and teeth. It is of considerable importance for the entire metabolism and essential for the acid-base balance. 

In our feed, the balanced Ca/P ratio achieves the necessary balance for optimum health. Due to the natural raw materials, a surplus is impossible and at the same time, a deficiency is prevented.

What are additives?

Additives are substances that are added to a feed when the ingredients alone are unable to achieve a certain goal. The goal can be that the food gets a particularly attractive colour or an enticing appetising smell, but also to create a special consistency or to extend the shelf life. Nowadays, additives are unfortunately used far too often, as they represent a cost-saving way to compensate for deficiencies from inferior ingredients. As a rule, these are synthetic, i.e., chemically produced substances.

Additives

Sensory additives

These substances are added to conventional feed to improve or change the organoleptic (e.g., taste, smell) or optical properties of the feed. The functional groups colorants and flavourings fall under this category.

Nutritional additives

These are substances that have a nutritional importance for the feed and the animal, such as vitamins, provitamins, trace elements or amino acids.

Preservatives

Preservatives are often declared under "additives" or "with antioxidants". Of concern are research results that document that preservatives can trigger allergies and alter the immune system. In addition, they can even have a cancer-promoting effect on the body. 

Dry food does not actually need to be preserved. However, to make it tastier, fats are usually sprayed onto the food as a last step of production. This fat could become rancid after a short time, when the weather is warm and must therefore be preserved. We offer our food without sprayed fats and without preservatives.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by phone. We are here to help you with comprehensive advice. You can reach us Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by phone at 020 8531 7804 or mail info@naturavetal.co.uk.

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