Pet food manufacturers have made it quite easy for the average dog owner to feed their pets without having to be an expert nutritionist. All of the work has been done by the modern manufacturer.
Since it isn’t possible for manufacturers to list all of the nutrients and their required percentages as published by the NRC (National Research Council) on their labels, the terms “complete diet”, “nutritionally complete”, “balanced”, and “balanced diet” are used.
This tells the consumer that the product inside the can, bag or box, contains all the essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats the average dog needs to satisfy his daily requirements.
The nutritional requirement for puppies, however, is somewhat different than that required for adult dogs. The diet of the adult dog is usually referred to as a “maintenance diet” where a puppy diet is referred to as a “growth diet”.
In 1974 a regulation went into effect that required all dog food manufacturers to specify on their labels whether the product is complete and balanced for the adult dog (maintenance), complete and balanced for puppies (growth), or complete and balanced for growth and maintenance both. Since all manufactures comply with this regulation, the only thing left to the consumers is to read the label.
Among the varieties of canned, bagged, or semi-moist dog foods, there are certain drawbacks, as well as advantages. This is true even though they are nutritionally identical if advertised as “complete” and/or “balanced”.
Because canned dog food may contain up to 78% moisture, a dog necessarily has to eat a larger quantity of a canned product to get the same volume of food that he would get if fed a dry product. It takes three pounds of commercially prepared canned dog food to be equivalent to one pound of dry food.
But manufactures do not fill a can two-thirds of the way with water, then top it off with a little dab of dog food. The moisture content inside the can is there by the very nature of the ingredients. For example, when a human buys a thick juicy steak, he’s buying well over fifty percent moisture. The butcher didn’t inject that moisture into the steak with a hypodermic needle.
The moisture content in canned dog food serves a definite and useful purpose, both in processing and in the dog’s digestive system. The drawback to the consumer insofar as canned dog food is concerned, is usually one of economics. It can be very expensive due to the large quantities of canned food most normal to large sized dogs will need to eat to get in their daily caloric and nutritional needs.