What Is the Difference Between Light and Reduced-Calorie Dog Foods?
Dog-food products described as light, lite, or low calorie must meet specific calorie levels set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), while dog foods named “less” or “reduced calorie” must show a percent reduction in calories as compared to a product in the same moisture-content category. The following table shows the guidelines as set by AAFCO for both dog and cat foods for determining whether a product can use the term “light.”
|Food Texture||Moisture Content||Dog Foods Maximum kcal ME/kg||Cat Foods Maximum kcalME/kg|
|Dry||less than 20% moisture||3,100||3,250|
|Semi-Moist||between 20 and 64% moisture||2,500||2,650|
|Canned||65% or more moisture||900||950|
What Is the Difference Between Lean and Reduced-Fat Dog Foods?
Like light versus reduced-calorie foods, lean or low-fat dog-food products must meet specific fat levels set by AAFCO, and less-fat or reduced-fat dog-food products need to show a percent reduction in fat as compared to a product in the same moisture category. AAFCO guidelines for dog and cat foods with “lean,” “low fat,” or similar words are shown in the following table.
|Food Texture||Moisture Content||Dog Foods Maximum % Crude Fat||Cat Foods Maximum % Crude Fat|
|Dry||less than 20% moisture||9||10|
|Semi-Moist||between 20 and 64% moisture||7||8|
|Canned||65% or more moisture||4||5|
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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