Last week a new series Trust Me, I'm a Vet screened in the UK and delved into the contentious issue of the mineral content in pet food. Mineral content in pet food is hugely important and also quite controversial, mainly because there are a few conflicting perspectives.
Globally, different institutions recommend different ratios and levels of mineral content in pet food. The recommendations are usually decided based on the levels of minerals that cause adverse effects in animals as opposed to the perfect level to promote optimum health.
You may have thought that the regulations around mineral content were based on what our pets need daily to maintain good health. Surprisingly though this is not determined by what dogs or cats really need for a healthy life, but what doesn't make them sick! In my opinion this is studied and prioritised the wrong way round.
Like in our own diets, minerals are essential for optimum nutrition. They enable development and the healthy function of our pet's overall wellbeing. Minerals are key to aiding the flow of oxygen in the bloodstream and the regulation of hormones. They are also key to maintaining a healthy metabolism nervous system and bones.
It is important to understand that when examining the mineral content in your pet's food that it is not always best for it to be high. Don't assume that because there are lots of 'nutritional additives' that the food will be better than foods that do not have these ingredients.
The issue here is that many pet foods use synthetic minerals and vitamins to meet the recommended mineral content. But studies show that these artificial minerals do not offer the same benefits as natural sources. In fact, they can even cause health problems. Synthetic minerals and vitamins work differently in the body, so for example synthetic Vitamin A can cause cancer and synthetic Vitamin E can damage the hormone system.
EU law states that pet food detail the analysis of what it contains in its packaging label. One thing you'll notice listed is ash. During testing, pet food is burned to see how much non-organic matter is included in the food. The amount of ash left behind after burning shows the amount of minerals such as copper, zinc and magnesium that are present. You should be looking for a low amount of ash as animals cannot handle high levels of minerals at a time, particularly synthetic minerals.
In natural pet foods like the AniForte range the mineral content is inherent rather than added synthetically. The mineral content in these foods can appear to be lower, even though the nutritional benefits for pets are more substantial and organic. The body reacts better and can more easily and safely digest the natural minerals as they have been accustomed to them for millions of years. Pet owners should look out for synthetic minerals as they are usually labelled 'nutritional additives' which tend to be added vitamins.