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Feeding Fido: Functional pet food ingredients

October 29, 2017

Functional pet food ingredients provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition.

Today’s high-quality pet foods include a number of functional ingredients to improve the overall health of our beloved pets. Some of these ingredients claim improved digestive health and better stool quality, which is especially important to on-the-go urban pet parents living in small spaces — less mess to pick up.

Today’s pet food choices are quite extensive, from specific breeds, sizes, life stages and activity levels to allergies and sensitivities. The choice overload can make the purchasing decision an intimidating task for some pet parents, especially for first-timers.

How can we make choosing what to feed Fido easier? Let’s take a closer look at functional ingredients and why you might want to consider finding a food that contains them.

Functional ingredients in pet nutrition

Functional ingredients are ingredients that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition, such as prebiotic fibers, beneficial probiotic bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA) and enriched selenium yeast.

Why should I look for functional ingredients in a pet food label?

Functional ingredients can provide health benefits when part of a complete and balanced diet. Prebiotics and probiotics have been reported to positively influence and maintain normal digestive health.

The food you choose could cut time poop scooping

The amount of pet waste correlates to the amount of indigestible content in the food. A healthy stool is moist and firm and has a mild smell. Prebiotics and probiotics in your pet’s food would help maintain normal digestion, minimizing issues that could create messy and smelly stools.

What is that smell?

Your pet’s waste is just residues from digestion. Bacteria decomposition and ammonia production occurs inside the intestine and then is released with the feces. Smell can be a challenge, particularly in confined spaces with poor ventilation.

Yucca schidigera: The secret of the desert

Yucca schidigera is a plant that grows in the southwestern deserts of the United States and Mexico. It has mainly been used for ammonia and odor control in livestock production, but it has application in pet foods that have high meat content because of its efficacy in helping metabolize protein and nitrogen.

How do I know if my pet food contains functional ingredients?

Ingredients are listed by the name required by the regulatory authorities. Here is an example of how some functional ingredients may be listed on the label:

  • Beneficial probiotic bacteria (e.g.,Lactobacillus strains)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA): Marine sources are best, such as fish oil and algae.