Mid-september, we did our first webinar for our shelter partners. Topic was: "Nutrition in animal shelters". The goal was to show how dogs and cats can benefit from a zootechnical approach of nutririon in these structures. If you could not attend and are interested in watching this content, the video is now online. And as promised at the end of the webinar, here are the answers to the questions that were asked during this session !
There is a lot of talk about chicken meal as opposed to actual chicken. The perception is that true chicken is better. Is this true?
Interesting question that, in fact we are often asked ! The assumption here is in fact that the name of the ingredient ("chicken" vs "chicken meal") guarantees somehow the quality of the product. However, what really matters in my opinion is its quality... and more importantly how it participates to the nutritional balance inside the diet.
Ingredients are indeed puzzles of nutrients, these elements that help nourrish the organism (see more here on this great blog post). We have a good understanding today of the nutritional needs of dogs and cats in terms of proteins, fat, minerals, etc... The role of the ingredients that are used to prepare the diet is to fulfill these needs in the end. Again their quality matters for sure, but be aware that what is written on the ingredient deck does not guarantee the quality of the product and the amount of nutrients that will be provided.
More to that: here are the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) definitions for the two ingredients mentioned above:
Chicken = the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.
Chicken meal = chicken which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.
Chicken meal is in fact dehydrated chicken and that has its importance because 80% of the chicken is made of water, which means that chicken is heavier than chicken meal. Ingredients are ranked by weight on the ingredient deck, which means that if "chicken" is used it will very often - if not always- rank first... while it contains 80% of water. Again the name of the ingredient is not a guarantee in terms of quality but you understand that chicken meal is usually more nutrient-dense than chicken.
What does zootechny means ?
Zootechny is "the scientific art of maintaining and improving animal health". Zootechnical measures are of great importance in collectivities like shelters, since tiny little details related to husbandry, sanitation, nutrition, ..., can make a huge difference in the end !
Do you have information that can be given to adoptees in regards to the transition period for changing the food diet?
Here is a link to our recommendations concerning diet transition in dogs and cats http://www.royalcanin.ca/index.php/Pet-Store-Products/Dog-Diets/Die...
What do you do when you have an animal that comes in the shelter but you don't know what their diet was before that?
As I said during the webinar, for sure this is not the ideal situation because it is then hard to make a proper nutritional transition. In this case, it is important to use a highly digestible diet (consult your Royal Canin PRO rep for more info) to minimize the risk. After a 10 day period, the dog can then be transitionned again to the diet you normally use for the animals inside the shelter.