Thoughtful Pet’s online glossary is designed to explain some of the terminology you will find on our website, to help you make the right choices for your pet.
Animal by-product is defined by Article 3.1 EU Regulation 1069/2009 as “Entire bodies or parts of animals, products of animal origin or other product obtained from animals, which are not intended for human consumption, including oocytes, embryos and semen.” Whilst animal by-product can include very high quality ingredients, it can also include very low quality ingredients such as: feathers, beaks, hooves and wool.
The definition is very broad and you cannot be sure what the by-product will contain. If you have a pet with food intolerances then it is important to avoid these ingredients, as you cannot be certain that the by-product will not contain a meat source that your pet is intolerant to, nor, can you be certain whether the by-product will contain digestible forms of protein.
Animal fats are usually produced as a by-product of the heating process when rendering meat. Too higher fat content in your pet’s food will cause your pet to gain weight, which can lead to other health problems.
Where the origin of the animal fat is unspecified it can come from any animal and the fat could be of any quality. It is always preferable to select a food with named animal fats.
These may be listed as “E” numbers and can cause hyperactivity in dogs. Dogs and cats are not responsive to colours in their food. These colourings are added in for the benefit of the pet’s owner to make the product more appealing to the owner.
These may be listed as “E” numbers, many artificial preservatives have been linked to health issues such as allergic reactions and cancers.
Ash is what is left over after any food has been incinerated. If you incinerated your pet’s food the proteins, fat and carbohydrates would burn away leaving just the minerals. Most of the ash comes from bone content and can indicate that there is a high level of bone meal in the product. Bone meal varies in quality and has lower levels of amino acids per unit than other proteins.
Further, a high ash content can indicate a high phosphorus content, which can be undesirable for pets with impaired kidneys.
Bone meal is ground bone that is added to some dog foods as a nutritional supplement. The problem is that the definition is very vague and does not tell you anything about which animal the bone meal has come from. If you have a dog that suffers from food intolerances then it may be better to avoid pet foods that contain bone meal as it may contain ingredients that your dog is intolerant to.
Cereals are defined in the Annex to EU Directive 82/475 “as all types of cereals, regardless of their presentation, or products made from the starchy endosperm.”
This is very general and will include poor quality cereals that are known to cause allergies in pets such as wheat and maize as well as higher quality cereals.
Chondroitin is a molecule that occurs naturally in the body. It is a major component of cartilage the tough, connective tissue that cushions the joints.
Chondroitin is derived from natural sources, such as bovine cartilage, or synthetic production. Chondroitin helps keep cartilage healthy by absorbing fluid (particularly water) into the connective tissue. It acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. It may also block enzymes that break down cartilage, and it provides the building blocks for the body to produce new cartilage.
Derivatives of vegetable origin
This is defined in the Annex to EU Directive 82/475 as: “Derivatives resulting from the treatment of vegetable products, in particular cereals, vegetables, legumes and oil seeds.” This is a very broad definition, which could include a wide range of ingredients of varying quality.
If you have a dog or cat which suffers from food intolerances then it may be better to avoid pet foods which lists this as an ingredient, as it may be derived from something which your dog or cat is intolerant to.
Digest (also referred to as hydrolysate) is produced by the chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean animal tissue that has not undergone decomposition.
Digest is sprayed on kibble to make it more palatable for your pet. Digest could contain animal tissue from many different types of animal and is very vague. Accordingly, a pet food which contains digest should not be fed to a pet with food intolerances as there will be no way of knowing whether it contains something your pet is intolerant to.
Dry Dog Food
Pet food with a moisture content of 14% or less.
Fish and fish derivatives
This is defined by EU Regulation 82/475 as: “Fish or parts of fish, fresh or preserved by appropriate treatment, and derivatives from the processing thereof.”
This definition includes any fish product and is very vague. Accordingly, a pet food which contains this ingredient should not be fed to a pet with food intolerances as there will be no way of knowing whether it contains something your pet is intolerant to.
Fish meal is a ground meal made from fish and the bones and offal from processed fish. Fish meal is an excellent source of protein and has a high amino acid content.
Fish meal from oily fish also contains high levels of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Fish oil contains essential omega-3 (EPA and DHA) and omega 6 fatty acids. Fish oils come from oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and anchovies.
Dogs and cats can only synthesize limited amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and accordingly, fish oils are an important supplement in your pet’s diet. Fish oils have been recommended for the prevention and treatment of conditions that cause inflammation of the heart, kidneys, joints, skin and cancer. It is an excellent supplement to improve the shine on the coat of your cat or dog.
Fructo-oligo-saccharide (FOS) is a beneficial pre-biotic extracted from fruits and vegetables.
This dietary supplement is used for dogs and cats suffering joint problems in particular osteoarthritis and it is believed that it helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage.
Green lipped mussels contain various anti-inflammatory components. These include high level of omega 3 fatty acids, as well as chondroitin, glutamine and methionine, and antioxidant micronutrients such as vitamin E and C, and zinc.
Green-lipped mussels can help elevate the symptoms of arthritis in cats and dogs.
Meat and Animal Derivatives
This is defined in the Annex to EU Directive 82/475 as: “All the fleshy parts of slaughtered warm-blooded land animals, fresh or preserved by appropriate treatment, and all products and derivatives of the processing of the carcase or parts of the carcase of warm-blooded land animals”.
Whilst meat and animal derivatives can include high quality ingredients it can also include very low quality ingredients such as: feathers, beaks, hooves and wool.
The definition is very broad and you cannot be sure what the meat and animal derivatives will contain. If you have a pet with food intolerances then it is important to avoid these ingredients, as you cannot be certain that the by-product will not contain a meat source that your pet is intolerant to, nor, can you be certain whether the by-product will contain digestible forms of protein.
Meat meal is made from a ground meat, connective tissue, offal and bone from any animal. The protein is dried to a fine powder before it is added to dry dog food.
If you have a dog or cat which suffers from food intolerances then it may be better to avoid pet foods which contain meat meal as it may contain ingredients which your dog or cat is intolerant to and there is no way of being certain what this ingredient will include.
These slow down the deterioration of pet foods. These include Vitamin E (which may be labelled as mixed tochopherois) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
Oils and Fats
This is defined as the Annex to EU Directive 82/475 “All animal and vegetable oils and fats.”
This definition is very vague and does not tell you anything about which animal or plant the fats and oil come from. If you have a dog that suffers from food intolerances then it may be better to avoid pet foods that contain these vague terms as it may contain ingredients that your dog is intolerant to as it is not clear what animals and plants these oils and fats are derived from.
This is a controversial additive used to preserve the moisture content in certain dog foods. It is the cousin of ethylene glycol one of the main component of antifreeze, and is itself used in modern vehicles as antifreeze and as de-icer for aircrafts. Propylene glycol is banned in cat food and treats as it can cause a serious blood disease in cats known as Heinz Body Anaemia. It is still legal to include propylene glycol in dog food.
Raw pet food
Pet food, which has not undergone any preserving process other than chilling or freezing.
These are meats that have been dried by heating at a high heat to produce a dried meat or meal to add to the pet food.
Dogs and cats can obtain sufficient quantities of salt from their food, there is no need to add salt to a dog or cats food and excessive quantities of salt can have the same health implications for dogs and cats as it does for humans.
Semi-moist pet food
Pet food with a moisture content of 14% or more and less than 60%
Dogs and cats do not require sugar to be added to their diet excessive quantities of salt can have the same health implications for dogs and cats as it does for humans.
Whilst most vegetables can be considered suitable to add to a dog or cats diet it needs to be remembered that the Annex to EU Directive 82/475 defines vegetables as “All types of vegetables and legumes, fresh or preserved by appropriate treatment.” This can include ingredients such as soya beans, which are known to cause food intolerances in dogs and cats.
Vegetable Protein Extract
“All products of vegetable origin in which the proteins have been concentrated by an adequate process to contain at least 50% crude protein, as related to dry matter, and which may be restructured”.
This is a very vague definition. For dogs and cats vegetable proteins are not as digestible as meat and a number of vegetable proteins including wheat and soya have been linked to food intolerances in dogs and cats.
Wet Pet Food
Pet food with moisture content of at least 60%.