The nutritional guideline standards for dogs, as set forth by the NRC (National Research Council), state that pet food manufacturers must have the minimum amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.
They include meat, meat by-products, corn, wheat middlings, barley, oats, rice, brewer’s yeast, vegetable and/or animal fats, fish meal, poultry, bone meal, cereals, soybean meal – all of which are rich in the required nutrients.
To meet the palatability requirement so that dogs would enjoy eating this food, manufacturers can add tomato puree, bacon, salt, onion powder, garlic and other ingredients to make the food smell and taste good.
The required ease in consumer handling is accomplished by packing the product in bags with graduated poundage from one to fifty pounds, in twelve to sixteen ounce cans, and in see-through cellophane packs or cans for individual serving.
After the manufacturers have packed their product in a can, bag or box, they have the added the burden of getting the dog owner’s attention to the pet food shelves. They know the family dog isn’t standing there looking over the product – a human is.
To get the human to reach out and select one of the many different brands available, the product must please the eye of the consumer. The dog doesn’t give one care in the world what the product looks like. The animal is only interested in how it tastes and smells.
Manufacturers today will exhibit their product to look like fresh ground hamburger, choice steaks, chunks of lean beef, even breakfast cereals. Although dog food comes in a variety of styles, it really comes in only three types:
1) The complete/balanced food (everything the dog needs in one container). This pet food type will list the product as containing all of the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals that a canine should have for good health.
2) The supplementary food (to be added to the complete food to increase palatability). Such food items for pets are made to get the dog’s appetite stimulated enough to eat all of his main/complete food.
3) Treats and snacks (for training rewards or just plain pampering) which can range from beef jerky for dogs to small cereal biscuits.
If a dog’s diet consisted solely of a supplementary food, he would be deprived of the vitamins and nutrients he needs. The supplementary food and treats and snacks were not intended to be the sole diet of the dog. Most manufacturers will indicate this point on the label.