NUTRIENTS VS. INGREDIENTS
Formulating the best, premium pet nutrition in the world is no simple task. Each of our feline and canine diets is made up of over 50 nutrients that must be included in precise balance to supply the most effective nutrition for cats and dogs of different sizes, ages, breeds and lifestyles, and with specific needs.
Our focus on science puts the animal at the heart of the formulation process, and the ingredients used are always selected to optimize the nutritional content of the food.
- Body development and maintenance: Amino acids, minerals, vitamins and fatty acids meet the basic nutrition requirements for healthy physical development and maintenance.
- Energy provision: Protein, carbohydrates and fat provide energy to cats and dogs.
- Prevention: The best antioxidants, prebiotics, fiber and essential fatty acids help address kidney issues, digestive problems, the effects of aging and other common health issues.
- Special care: Very specific nutrients can be limited or added in certain formulations in order to help cats and dogs recover from particular health issues.
What’s in a kibble? More than you might think.
Kibble Shape and Size
Royal Canin is a leader in kibble research and development. Extensive trials at the ROYAL CANIN® Campus and use of advanced equipment such as the “Texturometer” – a tool that measures kibble hardness and the amount of force required to break it – allow for a thorough understanding of our product and confidence in its quality and performance.
We also take size, shape, texture and density into consideration when developing our kibble and adapt it to the specific characteristics of the dog or cat for which it is intended. Labrador Retrievers, for example, are known for eating food very quickly and without chewing. A donut-shaped kibble is designed to encourage chewing and works to slow down the speed of ingestion. The Persian cat, on the other hand, is known for its long, beautiful coat and brachycephalic (flat) face. Persians use the lower side of their tongue to pick up kibble, so we created an almond-shaped kibble that is easier for them to eat.
Additionally, a cat's or dog’s size and age is important when it comes to kibble size and texture. For example, the kibble for a giant breed adult dog is much larger and more brittle than the kibble for a miniature breed puppy, which needs smaller, softer pieces.
Kibble can impact many things, including:
- Dental health - It is important that the cat or dog’s teeth penetrate the kibble so that a “brushing” effect can be achieved. This helps to reduce plaque, which can lead to tartar and encourages good oral health.
- Digestion - The more a cat or dog has to chew kibble, the slower the ingestion speed, which can aid in digestion.
- Satisfaction - Kibble density can help to alleviate hunger between meals by creating a sense of fullness. This helps the cat or dog feel satisfied and helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Palatability - Dogs and especially cats are sensitive to how a food feels in their mouths. The right kibble texture can help accentuate a food’s flavor and can positively enhance the feeding experience.
Don’t be fooled by trendy foods with kibble in the form of fish, bones or other shapes that are only designed to appeal to pet owners. Like every other aspect of our formulas, the different types of uniquely shaped kibble we create are designed for a specific purpose and can have a real impact on the health and beauty of your pet.
Today, pet owners want to be more informed when it comes to what they feed their pets. But there’s also a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to ingredients like protein sources, grains, fillers, gluten and by-products. So what do these ingredients really mean for your pet? Let us tell you.
Should Chicken Be the First Ingredient?
Contrary to popular marketing messages, chicken listed first on a label is not an indication that the diet contains more protein. Ingredients must appear in descending order of their weight in the diet. The total weight of the ingredient includes the water content. And since chicken meal is chicken with water and fat removed, it weighs less than chicken but actually can contain a higher percentage of protein.
Why Are Grains Important?
Many people will tell you that corn causes allergies and has no nutritional value. And while a food reaction may affect some dogs with rare, documented food allergies, there is no evidence to support claims that grains in general cause health problems.
When processed properly, grains like corn can be a healthy part of any cat or dog’s diet. In fact, properly processed corn contains far more nutrients than ingredients commonly used as replacements for it in grain-free diets.
The only indigestible portion of corn is the hull, which is why Royal Canin removes the hull and grinds the corn very finely before it’s added to any of our formulas. This makes it a very effective and digestible carbohydrate source.
We also recently added corn gluten meal and wheat gluten to some of our feline and canine formulas. Both are great sources of highly digestible protein, and wheat gluten contains amino acids that support gastrointestinal health. Both corn and wheat gluten are good complements to chicken meal.
What Do You Need to Know About By-Products?
Misinformation about by-products in pet food is widespread, and many people believe that by-products are bad for pets. The Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) defines chicken by-products as the ground, clean parts of the chicken, which include internal organs, bone/cartilage and other parts. Royal Canin only uses high-quality by-products, like hearts, livers and lungs. And when processed properly, by-products provide valuable nutrients for the pet. They are excellent sources of quality protein, vitamins and minerals and can help contribute to a balanced nutritional profile. At Royal Canin, we take great care in selecting and processing by-products for our feline and canine diets. We only use suppliers whose offerings are up to our strict standards, and our intensive food testing program double checks both quality and safety in our raw materials and finished goods.