How to Decipher Dog Food Labels: Calorie and Fat Terms
How to Decipher Dog Food Labels: Calorie and Fat Terms

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How to Decipher Dog-Food Labels: Calorie and Fat Terms

What Is the Difference Between Light and Reduced-Calorie Dog Foods?

Dog-food products described as light, lite, or low calorie must meet specific calorie levels set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), while dog foods named “less” or “reduced calorie” must show a percent reduction in calories as compared to a product in the same moisture-content category. The following table shows the guidelines as set by AAFCO for both dog and cat foods for determining whether a product can use the term “light.”
 

Food Texture Moisture Content Dog Foods Maximum kcal ME/kg Cat Foods Maximum kcalME/kg
Dry less than 20% moisture 3,100 3,250
Semi-Moist between 20 and 64% moisture 2,500 2,650
Canned 65% or more moisture 900 950

 

 

What Is the Difference Between Lean and Reduced-Fat Dog Foods?

Like light versus reduced-calorie foods, lean or low-fat dog-food products must meet specific fat levels set by AAFCO, and less-fat or reduced-fat dog-food products need to show a percent reduction in fat as compared to a product in the same moisture category. AAFCO guidelines for dog and cat foods with “lean,” “low fat,” or similar words are shown in the following table.
 

Food Texture Moisture Content Dog Foods Maximum % Crude Fat Cat Foods Maximum % Crude Fat
Dry less than 20% moisture 9 10
Semi-Moist between 20 and 64% moisture 7 8
Canned 65% or more moisture 4 5

  • Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On
    Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On

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    Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On

    Keeping Your Senior Dog Healthy and Active

    It depends on the breed of dog, but your pet's senior years generally begin at age 7. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), tells you what you need to know to keep your older dog spry and happy.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Preventive Health

    At this stage, Murray recommends taking your dog to the vet twice a year. "So much can happen to an elderly dog," she says. Your veterinarian can take blood annually to test liver and kidney functions. "Discovering problems early is extremely important," she says. Your vet can be on the lookout for conditions that often affect older dogs, such as anemia and arthritis.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Urination, Bowel Movements, and Appetite

    Pay attention to what might be subtle changes in your dog's habits: Is she drinking more water or urinating larger amounts? These behaviors might indicate a liver or kidney problem. Have your dog's bowel movements shifted? This could indicate a digestive issue. Diabetes or digestive problems might cause your dog to eat more but still lose weight. Knowing the dog's patterns can help the veterinarian determine a course of treatment.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines

    Continue to use preventive medicines.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Dental Health

    Clean your dog's teeth daily. If she has tartar buildup, you might need to have her teeth professionally cleaned at your vet's office, which requires sedating your pet.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Exercise

    Your dog is probably less active, so steady, moderate exercise is best for her now. Don't turn her into a "weekend warrior" who, after lying around on weekdays, accompanies you on a 10-mile hike on Saturdays. This is especially hard on an older dog's joints.

     

     

    Senior Dog Health: Diet

    Your veterinarian might wish to put your dog on a senior diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Senior Plus. These formulations contain nutrients specifically geared toward older-dog health.

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