How To Read Labels

How to read a pet food label:

The pet food industry is regulated by AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials), the FDA/CVM (Food and Drug Administration/Center for Veterinary Medicine), the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). The ingredients list state all of the items that are contained in the food from the highest quantity listed first to the least listed last. The first ingredient is the most important one because this is what the food has most of. The first ingredient in a quality pet food should be a good quality protein like found in all of the Evanger’s varieties; aside from the Vegetarian and 100% Sweet Potato, which are meat-free and vegetable-based. When a meat is listed on our labels, it is a muscle meat like chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish, and more; only the best quality proteins. The biological value of a protein determines how well the body can use it. The better the body can use a protein, the higher the biological value it will have. Protein eaten provides the body nitrogen and amino acids, the building blocks for a healthy body. There are 9 essential amino acids that dogs and cats cannot make -themselves and therefore, must be provided for in the diet. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy all have a high biological score. For example, eggs have a biological value of 100; beef has a biological value of 80. As far as our vegetarian diet goes, the combination of peas and whole brown rice provide complementary proteins. In other words, separately, these ingredients may not score high because separately, each is missing an essential amino acid (peas are missing methionine while whole brown rice is missing lysine) but together they complement each other with the end result of a good quality, high biological value protein source.


What Cancer-causing ingredients are allowed in pet foods?

BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin are all preservatives allowed in pet foods, which have also been linked to causing cancer. Evanger’s dog and cat foods do not contain any of these preservatives to maintain their freshness because their canned foods are cooked right in the can. As far as their dry foods go, natural preservatives like Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) are added to keep their foods safe and healthy.


How are dog dietary needs different from cat dietary needs?

This is a very important lesson because pet owners that allow a dog to eat cat food or a cat to eat dog food could end up with a very sick pet….or worse. Illnesses do not usually happen if only a few meals are shared, but will happen if it continues on a regular basis. Incidentally, dogs are omnivores like people; they eat both meat and vegetables. Cats are obligate carnivores; they eat mostly meat. Cats have a higher protein and fat requirement than dogs. Dogs that eat cat food could end up with liver, kidney and/or pancreatic problems because cat foods are too high in protein and fat for dogs to properly metabolize. Cats that eat dog foods could end up blind or with a serious heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy because cats have a dietary need for taurine. Dogs naturally make the amino acid taurine, while cats must have it supplied in their diets; all Evanger’s cat foods contain taurine.

Cats also require a different form of Vitamin A. Dogs, like people, naturally manufacture Vitamin A, if Beta-carotene is supplied in the diet. Last but not least, cats require arachidonic acid, an essential fatty acids for cats. Dogs can manufacture Arachodonic Acid from Omega 3 fatty acids. Both dogs and cats require linoleic (Omega 6) and linolenic (Omega 3) fatty acids.


What foods are poisonous to dogs and cats?

Evanger’s prides itself on safety and healthy nutrition. Even though some foods in large quanities are poisonous to dogs or cats, in Evanger’s pet foods, their quantities are small, safe, and beneficial!

Garlic is poisonous to both dogs and cats if given in a high enough concentration. Garlic is in the onion family, and both garlic and onions are toxic to dogs, cats, and many other animals. In a high enough concentration, ingested garlic or onions can cause red blood cells to breakdown, leading to anemia. Cats are particularly sensitive to its toxic effects but do not worry, there is no garlic in any of Evanger’s cat foods. Garlic is only found in some of our dog foods and is not a main ingredient. In other words, there is not a high enough concentration in Evanger’s dog foods to worry about any ill affects, however, the benefits of garlic are amazing: they boost the Immune System, Fight Bacterial/Viral/Fungal Infections, Enhance Liver Function, and provide Tick/Flea Repellent!

Avocados eaten by dogs in large amounts can cause gastrointestinal upset like vomiting and/or diarrhea. Again, there is only a small amount in the Vegetarian diet. There are beneficial effects of these ingredients and good health and safety are always Evanger’s top priorities, for example garlic in a small amount acts as an antioxidant. If you have a customer that wants to know more about what can be potentially harmful to pets, send him/her to the Animal Poison Control Center website, www.aapcc.org, for more information. You would be surprised at what could be poisonous to pets. For example, grapes and raisins can cause kidney problems. Once again, your pet needs to eat a large amount to see toxic side effects. If your dog has eaten 1 or 2 grapes because they fell on the floor and he or she grabbed them, do not worry. If an entire bunch has been eaten then you need to contact your veterinarian immediately. There are no grapes in any of Evanger’s foods.


What Evanger's product should be recommended if your pet has diarrhea vs. constipation?

This is useful information for all dog and cat owners because some pets have a tendency to either eliminate too much water and others do not eliminate enough because they suffer from dehydration, a kidney problem or a large bowel problem. The end result is stool that is too soft and watery or too hard and dry, and both conditions could be painful for the pet. If a pet tends to have diarrhea or constipation more often than normal stool, a veterinary check up is the first step to rule out any disease or illness. Given the vet gives the pet a clean bill of health, the diet may need to be changed to a blander, more constipating one for diarrhea or a higher fat content/more fiber and more water diet for a constipation problem. Any of the Evanger’s diets that have rice will help with a soft stool problem. The Lamb & Rice Dinner or Chicken & Rice Dinner, for example are a gentle diet for the gut. Feeding dry food may also help firm up the stool. If a pet has a stool that is too firm and dry, adding canned foods and/or adding water to an exclusively canned diet can help. Try changing to a diet with a higher fat content, and to add more fiber, with our 100% Sweet Potato or combining our Vegetarian Dinner with our Grain Free Pheasant; for a combination of more fiber with more fat that can help to soften the stool.


What are the benefits of adding water to your pet's food?

We are all ~ 75% water ~ people, dogs, cats, etc. Human babies are born at 78% water and the amount decreases with age. Therefore, it is important for all of us to take in enough water, whether it is directly from how much we drink or ingested from the food. If a pet is not a big water drinker then dry food should not be offered. A dry diet can further contribute to a state of dehydration. This is especially true for cats, since most cats do not drink water often and their bodies must steal water from itself to process and digest dry foods. Adding water to canned food can make up for that.

Interesting enough, some cats/dogs don’t like the taste of tap water in a plastic bowl, but filtered water changed daily and served in a glass or ceramic bowl can taste better. Pets will often only drink out of dripping sink or worse, out of the toilet bowl. Ceramics keep water cold even though there are many bacteria contaminating the water. Keep your toilet lids down or the bathroom door shut and keep fresh water available 24/7. Pets can be stimulated to drink out of a water fountain drinking bowl where the water passes through a filter all day long. If your pet does not drink enough water then you can easily add it to a canned Evanger’s diet.


Is a high fat content unhealthy for my dog?

High fat content is not unhealthy for your pet. It is a common misconception that giving animal fat like cutting off the steak fat or chicken skin and feeding it to your dog or cat can lead to a hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) and heart attacks. Unlike people who should not ingest a lot of animal fats, dogs and cats rarely ever get arteriosclerosis or heart attacks related to diet. High cholesterol also does not predispose to arteriosclerosis and/or heart attacks but should alert your veterinarian into checking the thyroid function. A high cholesterol in a dog’s blood is seen with hypothyroidism, a under active thyroid gland. Too much animal fat can cause another problem like inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis. This is a painful condition that can be life-threatening. Vomiting is one of the signs and we happen to see it more often around Thanksgiving, Christmas and barbecue season when you may have guests over and they feed the family pet too much fat!


Exactly when is it safe to exercise your pet in reference to eating?

Everyone knows how important exercise is for our pets and us but when to exercise can have a beneficial or harmful effect. You must rest your pet for 1 hour before eating and at least 2 hours after eating a meal. Otherwise, there can be some harmful side effects. Before, during and after exercise, water should be offered. After a workout, there should be a cooling off period where the breathing rate has returned to normal, panting has stopped, and the pet is no longer overheated. If a pet has just finished a meal, it is safest not to exercise him or her for at least 2 hours. There needs to be time for proper digestion, and rest is best. If an animal, especially a deep-chested dog, small or large, is exercised right before or right after eating, a life-threatening condition called a gastro-distension volvulus or GDV could happen. This is often referred to as bloat and is responsible for the death of many pets. This is the worst case scenario, sometimes, if eating is too close to exercising, a gastrointestinal upset could happen- poor digestion, vomiting, even gas could result. No one wants to see his or her pet in any discomfort so it is best to rest a pet before and after a meal.


What are the ancillary benefits to exclusively feeding Evanger's?

When a dog eats a diet that is not balanced, a disgusting habit can result called copraphagy; AKA ‘eating their own feces’…gross. In the wild, for the mothers that practiced copraphagy, there were no smells to lure predators and therefore, her offspring would live on to reproduce. Feeding Evanger’s pet foods exclusively could resolve a pet’s disgusting habit. Coprophagy can happen when there is a vitamin or mineral missing from the diet. PICA is the term used when a pet eats something that should not be eaten. If a pet is suffering from PICA or copraphagy, the first thing to change is their food to a more wholesome, nutritious diet like Evanger’s. It is also important that a complete diet is chosen not a meat-only diet, or use our dry foods in combination with any canned foods.

Because the palatability of Evanger’s pet foods is so high, your dog or cat will never skip a meal unless there is a medical problem. As long as dogs drink water, it is not a dangerous situation for them to skip a meal but cats must eat every day. If a cat goes more than 2 days without eating, no matter what the primary problem is, they could develop a very serious liver problem called hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver.

A well-balanced diet like Evanger’s will give your pet a healthy, shiny coat and could add years to his or her life.