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  Dog Care Tip Randomizer:  
Canine Expert Advice
Every time you revisit this page, you will find a new pet care tip here from a respected author on pet care:

Dog Food Selector Quiz
To give your dog the best opportunity for a long and healthy life, select the right dog food. This selector includes over 16 dozen popular and highly rated dog food brands and their specialized formulas.

SOME DOG FOOD PACKAGE BASICS

by Cheryl S. Smith, author of Pudgy Pooch, Picky Pooch: A Pet Owner's Guide to Dog Food and Canine Nutrition...Buy This Book!

Do you know what information can be found on dog food packages, and where to find it? The package label is actually designed to satisfy legal requirements. However, there are some useful facts available.

First, the statement "Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures have been conducted" means that the food has been fed to dogs, with good results. Though critics claim the test period is too short,

it's better than no test period at all.

The guaranteed analysis is only a rough indication of nutritional value at best, but can let you compare relative levels of protein and fat between foods.

Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. This can be deceiving. The label doesn't indicate whether dry weights or moisture-included weights are being used, and some ingredients may be listed one way and some the other. "Dressed chicken" or "chicken" appearing first in the list may seem very appealing. But chicken is a high-moisture product, and 70 percent of that weight is actually water.

Another bit of subterfuge is "splitting," listing a single type of ingredient by a variety of names to keep it from appearing too high on the list. If you added listings of corn gluten, ground corn, corn syrup, and corn germ meal, corn might become the first

ingredient, rather than that water-heavy chicken.

The quality of an ingredient is not obvious simply from its name. In fact, no reference to the quality of ingredients is permitted on labeling.

Product freshness dating has become even more crucial with increased reliance on "natural" preservatives. There are four dating methods in general use. The international date code uses two numbers for the day of the month, two numbers for the month, and two for the year. So 270598 translates to the 27th day of the 5th month in 1998, or May 27, 1998.

Julian calendar dating counts the days of the year from start to finish, and adds the last two numbers, or sometimes only the last number, of the year. So 04599 (0459) means the 45th day of the year 1999, or February 14, 1999.

The month/day/year system is pretty obvious, much the same way you might write a date in your checkbook, minus the slashes. So 093098 equals September 30, 1998.

Finally, "Best before" dating uses the month/day/year format, but instead of manufacturing date, gives the date by which the product should be used.

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