Pet food manufacturers are not required to list the NRC requirements (National Research Counsel, which helps reside over pet food regulations) on their labels, but they must – by state and federal regulations – list the ingredients contained in the package, whether it is a can, bag or box.
These ingredients show the consumer – among other things – the source from which the required nutrients were derived.
The twenty six nutrients that are required can be derived from many sources. The manufacturer’s source of protein, for example, may be soybean meal, fish, cottage cheese, yeast or other plant or animal protein.
Since meat does not offer all of the energy that dogs need, and is extremely low in carbohydrates, and carbohydrates supply energy to a dog, some manufacturers will use grains, such as corn and rice, to supply needed carbohydrates.
Liver and brewers yeast are common sources of riboflavin, while niacin can be provided by the inclusion of certain meats, poultry, cereals, and even peanuts and yeast. Wheat germ, egg yolk, fish and whole wheat are sources for vitamin B6, while meat, meat by-products, certain vegetables and cereals supply necessary amounts of pantothenic acid.
When all twenty six nutrients are present in their proper amounts and ratios, it can then be said that the dog food ration is “complete, “balanced”, or “complete and balanced nutritionally”. Nutritional balancing is the responsibility of the manufacturer’s canine nutritionists, technicians, and laboratory scientists.
A sad note in the whole process often occurs when the dog owner finally makes his selection from the grocer’s shelf and takes the product home. He promptly mixes the balanced dog food with table scraps. The manufacturer’s entire research staff of highly paid dietitians and scientists have wasted their time and professional skill as far as that dog and owner are concerned.
By adding to what has already been scientifically prepared, the dog owner upsets the intricate, interrelated balance of nutrients. While many people think they know what is best for their pets, they forget that millions of dollars and thousands of hours of research have went into combining the perfect nutritional balance for your dog, which of course is what pet food manufacturers go by.
This is not to imply that the vitamin and mineral supplementation – if needed – should be ignored. Vitamin and mineral supplements have a very definite and useful place in dog society – just as they do in human society. If it were not for vitamin and mineral supplements, we could have a world full of unhealthy and unsound dogs.