How to Decipher Pet Food Labels

Let’s be honest, most food labels, being human or for our pets, are not really designed for your average Jo… you really do need specialist detailed knowledge if you wish to fully understand what you or your pet are eating. Human food labelling is slowly getting better, the regulations are changing and some labels are becoming straight forward, but what about pet food? Not so fast to change, so how do you go about deciphering that?

Well, this is a good question. Unclear terms and tons of marketing babble can make it really hard to truly understand what’s inside the packet.

Recently, I came across an article “Calls for clearer labelling on pet food” by Dogs Monthly, which features an infographic by Data Label. There was a part which really made me think.

What is Meat Meal?

Well, apparently there is no official definition of it, but it seems to be a high concentrated lower grade protein powder obtained from rendering down parts of an animal, which cost a fraction of the whole animal…

Every time you read on your label dehydrated, powder, dried, meal, concentrated… this is not whole meat, those are parts of the animal which are either surplus requirements in the human food industry or are not intended for human consumption… doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?

Now here is another pet food labelling dilemma. Let’s say, I just bought a puppy and I want to buy a high protein dog food to help him grow up big and strong… I look at the labels, I study all the numbers and tables and pick the one which shows the highest amount of protein… sounds good, right? Well, not really… it’s maybe not the right choice or even a good choice because I have no idea what type of protein they are using… protein from the whole chicken does not equal proteins obtained from say chicken beaks or feet… yet looking at the labels I will never know which grade of protein is in the pack.

A lot of people think that naturally the more expensive the food, then the better quality it is… I personally strongly DO NOT agree with this! I think if this would be the truth then there would be no need for mystery labelling… I think the company would be proud to clearly state what’s in their food for everyone to understand without having a degree in deciphering mystery labels. Don’t ever underestimate what a fully funded marketing department can achieve.

If you hoped this post will give you an answer as to how to read pet labels, well, I am sorry I couldn’t help…

Pet food labelling shouldn’t be a mystery, it should be clear, simple and understandable to everyone, to all customers.

I hope one day this will become a reality!

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More on the topic:

The Science of Pet Food Labels

How to Read a Pet Food Label

Understanding Pet Food Labels

How To Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs

* by Casey Dickson

Whether you’re watching someone else’s pup or on an adventure with your own, keeping canines cool in the heat of the summer is a top priority. In a season full of dog-friendly lakeside lounging and strenuous hikes, it’s best to stay afloat of these key tips to prevent heat stroke.

Preventing the signs before they happen

If your dog has any of the following traits, be extremely careful in hotter climes. Make sure they have plenty of water, access to shade, and time to rest.

  • Long and/or thick coat
  • Short-nosed, flat-faced breeds—brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Chow Chows, and Chihuahuas suffer from airway troubles that make panting less effective at cooling them down in more extreme temperatures
  • Extreme age: young puppies and older dogs are more vulnerable to high heat conditions
  • Obesity or prior case of heart trouble

And be extra-vigilant in extreme heat and humidity—and not just from outdoor adventures. Make sure your four-legged pals aren’t enclosed in unventilated conditions such as hot cars, rooms, or grooming dryer cages.

And if Fido starts to show signs of heat stroke…

Which is generally thought to be a body temperature above 106° F. If left untreated, heat stroke (also known as a non-fever form of hyperthermia) in dogs can cause multiple organ dysfunction. The symptoms are plenty, but the most common are along these lines:

  • The more obvious include excessive panting and drooling, and abnormally small quantities of urine
  • Other signs include reddened gums and rapid heart rate and an irregular beat
  • At the worst phases of heat stroke, your dog may vomit blood, produce black stool or have a wobbly gait, known as ataxia. In these scenarios, take your dog to the nearest vet right away.

And to move from the grim to the more fun tips…here’s some pup-friendly summer fun that will keep energetic pups happy and healthy!

  • Find a dog park that’s attached to a beach and add an extra splash to rousing rounds of fetch
  • Keep chopped pineapple in the freezer for a sweet and icy treat that will quench summer heat better than the everyday bone or pig’s ear
  • Fill a kiddie pool with water for your own makeshift puppy pool, or turn on the sprinkler during at-home games of tug or fetch

As long as you’re careful, prepared and vigilant, there’s no reason to worry about Buddy getting sick from heat stroke. So enjoy all that summertime has to offer, with these easy-to-remember tips in mind.

* About the author: Written by Casey Dickson, Rover.com community member. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

Pet Wearables – Tabcat & Whistle

Pet Wearables – Tabcat & WhistleThese days wearable tech isn’t only for us humans, pets have their share of the market too. GPS or activity trackers are actually super useful and can make our everyday life so much easier! Easier for us and more secure for our beloved pets. To date we have tried two different types of pet tech, Tabcat for cats and Whistle for dogs, they both work in a different ways and serve a different purpose.

Tabcat RRP: £69.99

Tabcat is a tracking device which works on RF technology for accurate, energy efficient tracking (one battery will last up to 12 months). It comes as a standalone unit; one transceiver plus two homing tags with plastic protectors, which you can attach to just about anything you want, your cat included 🙂 There is an option to purchase additional tags as the device can track up to four subjects on one unit. The homing tags are super lightweight (only 6 grams) so your cat shouldn’t even notice it.

Pet Wearables – TabcatIn general I really like the idea of Tabcat but its 122 meter distance isn’t far enough for us. I know cats are territorial creatures but as it ended up ours wonder much further so I am still losing track of them. I think Tabcat would be ideal if you cats like to hide and you struggle with finding them around the house or nearby garden.

Whistle RRP: $79.95

Whistle offers two options, GPS tracker or an activity monitor. We tested the activity monitor version and I have to admit, I totally love it.

Whistle’s Activity Monitor is a health tracker for your dog. It attaches to any collar and measures your dog’s activities, giving you a new perspective on the day-to-day behaviour and long-term trends.

Pet Wearables – WhistleThe device is app based and it can be highly personalised. In addition to tracking the activities or sleep duration of your dog, you can also track food or medication; all the data comes in the form of graphs so it’s super easy to track the progress and if you want there is a Whistle community you can join too.

The Whistle itself is a round disk 1.5” in diameter, it might be a bit big for very small dogs but for Bunk is just perfect. It comes with a collar attachment and a USB charger. The battery last around 7 days, which isn’t bad. It takes about 1 hour to fully recharge it and the device provides a clear green light indicator when it is fully charged.

I am not able to fault it in any way. Even in the UK climate with all its tons of rain it still works well and is still performing as intended so its waterproof feature is spot on. If you fancy a kind of Fitbit for your pet, I think Whistle might just be just the way to go.

Have you ever used any wearable tech for your pet?

Can you recommend something new we haven’t tried so far?

Understanding Your Dog Diet

There is so much information out there on what you should be feeding your dog and what is considered a ‘healthy diet’ for your four-legged friend. With so much to digest, it’s sometimes hard to know exactly what man’s best friend actually needs in their diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We are going to run through a few of the most important things your dog should be getting every day to help them stay healthy for longer!

Understanding Your Dogs DietDogs are omnivores like us, which means they like to eat pretty much anything, but this doesn’t mean they should. Whilst you might think it’s okay to give your dog human food as a treat every now and again, do you know the effects that this could be having on your dog’s insides? There are a few things they should definitely not eat too; for example, it’s commonly known that chocolate is toxic to dogs, and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea amongst other problems. Treats such as this can cause inflammation, as the food is unfamiliar to their gastrointestinal tract, therefore it is always best to stick to treats designed for your pooch.

Whether you make your dog’s food yourself at home, or you purchase it from a pet shop you should be looking out for some essential ingredients. Remember, what you are putting in to your dogs’ body will be reflected on the outside in their coat, energy and overall health.

Amino Acids

Providing your dog with the essentials that their tissues need to remain healthy and functional, amino acids are found in foods high in protein such as meat and vegetables. It is commonly understood that meat proteins offer more value to your dog than vegetable proteins; however, it is important to provide a balanced diet and you should look to provide some of each in their food.

Vitamins and Minerals

We all need our vitamins and minerals! Vitamins A, E, C and B-12 all play important roles in your dog’s health, whether it’s Vitamins A and E serving as important antioxidants, whilst B-12 aids in cell growth and development. Minerals in your dog’s food will help ensure his teeth and bones remain strong; minerals are involved in many important metabolic reactions working together to coordinate bodily functions, helping to maintain fluid balance and ensuring proper development for your dog. Categorised into two main types, macrominerals and trace minerals, macrominerals are required in larger amounts and these include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, etc. whilst trace minerals include iron, copper, chromium, and iodine amongst others which will be required in a smaller amount.

Water

Just as us humans’ need our 8 pints a day, staying hydrated is incredibly important for your dog too. Ensuring he remains well hydrated will keep him happy and healthy and will give him a greater quality of life; it aids digestion and keeps your dog moving.

When you are looking for a dog food to incorporate into a healthy balanced diet for your dog, it’s important to take into consideration a few things, for example his breed, lifestyle, age, weight and overall physiology should play a huge part in your dog food dilemma. Talk to your vet about how many calories and what nutrients your dog needs every day to keep him happy and healthy!

* Article supplied by Petstop.

World Cucumber Day – Cats vs Cucumber

The cucumber biologically speaking is a creeping vine that bears cylindrical fruits that are widely used as culinary vegetable. It’s just a fruit used as a veg so how come over a third of cats on the planet has an irrational fear of cucumbers?

The cucumber biologically speaking is a creeping vine that bears cylindrical fruits that are widely used as culinary vegetable. It’s just a fruit used as a veg so how come over a third of cats on the planet has an irrational fear of cucumbers? Hendrick's Gin enlisted the help of animal behaviourist Dr Roger Mugford to create a fool-proof cucumber exposure programme to help our feline friends cope with this irrational fear.Hendrick’s Gin enlisted the help of animal behaviourist Dr Roger Mugford to create a fool-proof cucumber exposure programme to help our feline friends cope with this irrational fear.

According to Dr Mugford, the suspicious nature of cats is what leads to the innate fear of the mighty cucumber – the oddness and unusual persona of the green fruit makes them feel uneasy.

Have you ever seen any of the “cats Vs cucumber” videos on YouTube? They are simply hilarious! I love my cats and I would never test them versus a cucumber but I have to admit that the reaction of some cats is simple unreal, have a look:

Funny isn’t it?

At this point you might ask why Hendrick’s Gin is spending its time trying to get to the bottom of a cats fear of cucumbers. Well:

“The cucumber is at the core of our gin, which is oddly infused with cucumber itself, the gin that is, not the cucumber – a cucumber is wholly made of cucumber”, says David Piper, Hendrick’s Global Brand Ambassador. “Cats have an illogical fear of cucumbers – so as inventors of the cucumber garnish, we have to act responsibly and ensure cats feel at ease as we enjoy our Hendrick’s libations garnished, of course, with a cucumber, on World Cucumber Day. Did I mention the importance of cucumbers?”

Hendrick’s Gin created their own cats versus cucumbers video which is full of tips on how to keep your cat calm and comfortable on this World Cucumber Day.

So when it comes to cucumbers, cat friendly tips include:

  1. Storing cats away from cucumbers
  2. Play some suitably serene music to help cats relax and forget about cucumbers
  3. Incremental exposure may acclimatise cats to cucumbers – limiting their fear
  4. Disguise a cucumber for feline use (for example put it into a paper bag and let them discover it themselves in their own time)
  5. Try not to appear frightened yourself when confronted by a cucumber – the more loyal cats out there may jump to your defence
  6. Rest assured that once the cucumber is submerged in a Hendrick’s and tonic, cats will not experience anxiety of any kind

I hope you will find these tips useful! After all we all love a good laugh but as responsible pet owners we do have to take the wellbeing of our cats into consideration too.

Have a wonderful World Cucumber Day!