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The Science of Dog Nutrition

Scientifically formulated pet food is crucial for your pet’s well-being because they need food with the recommended quantity of proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats, says Ganesh Ramani

Do you think of your pet as an animal? Or as a member of the family? Most likely, it’s the latter – and this is the overwhelmingly prevalent emotion across pet parents. For instance, dogs were once viewed only as guard animals but today they’re among the most loved family members. Alongside, pet adoption is growing fast due to urbanisation and an increase in disposable income among middleclass households.

According to market research agency Euromonitor, India is home to an estimated 19 million pets – of which 80% are dogs. Cat adoption, too, is rising as people see them as companions and shrug off the superstitions surrounding them. As pet ownership rises, so does the growth of the pet food and care market. However, the change in mindset about pet nutrition is still a work in progress. Most owners prefer to feed pets home cooked meals rather than scientifically formulated pet food bought from stores. While homecooked, they do not satisfy the calorific or nutritional needs of pets.

The typical parent finds it difficult to make a nutritionally balanced meal for the pet at home; it needs to be formulated by a vet or board-certified veterinary nutritionist with a command over various aspects of pet nutrition. Just as humans have specific nutritional needs for proper development and wellbeing, so do cats and dogs. Both species are inherently carnivorous and hence their dependence on protein is greater than ours. Despite the fact that dogs have adapted to become omnivores, as pet parents it’s our duty to ensure that they get food that’s with the recommended quantity of proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats. Cats, on the other hand, are obligatory carnivores and their needs cannot be satisfied through a vegetarian diet. Manufactured pet food is available in three categories: dry, semi-moist and canned. Dry food is the most common and is generally produced using a process called extrusion through which ingredients are turned into kibble. The ingredients are mixed, sheared and heated under high pressure. Whether it’s for everyday feeding, for specific life stage requirements or even to support pets with a clinical condition, scientifically manufactured food takes care of all your pet’s needs.

Essential nutrients in manufactured pet food are delivered by including flesh and organ meats (liver, heart, kidney) as well as fatty bits. These are classified as animal derivatives. Only materials from animals certified as suitable for human consumption at the time of slaughter are permitted. This means that all the meat and animal derivatives used in pet food comes from the same food processing chain as the meats sold for human consumption.

According to The WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute, the amount of pet food you give should be based on the number of calories for the specific pet. Cats and dogs require about 40 essential nutrients, each in the right form, ratio and the right amount to deliver complete nutrition. The pet food packaging guide is designed to support healthy body weight and provide complete and balanced nutrition at a calorie intake that’s appropriate for the activity level and life stage. The guides are designed to provide information to owners about how much to feed their pets. However, every pet has specific energy requirements, so owners must adjust how much they feed their pet according to individual needs, such as age and activity level.

As a pet parent, you must look at all options by researching everything you need to know about caring for and feeding your pet. With so many options available, it is advisable to consult your vet on your pet’s food and nutritional requirements.

– Ganesh Ramani is the General Manager, Mars Petcare. He has been with the company since July 2012. Prior to this role, he served as a Sales and Marketing Director. Prior to MARS Petcare, he has worked at companies such as Samsung, Colgate Palmolive (I) Ltd and Asian Paints. He has worked in diverse business environment with RTM Models and organizational cultures. With an experience of 21 years, Ganesh Ramani is a business and P&L Head with strong experience in Sales, Marketing and People Management.

At MARS Petcare, his contribution has led a niche Pet Speciality business to evolve into one with strong presence in Ecommerce, Modern Grocery and General Trade. Ganesh has played a key role in transforming MARS Petcare into a Digital First organisation with a strong focus on digital marketing and a digitised route to market. He trusts that his organisation is customer centric that leaves an impact on the Petcare Ecosystem. Under his leadership, the company has built a high-performance culture & strong talent pipeline.

He completed his Bachelors in Technology – Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and holds a Master’s degree from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. He is currently based out of Hyderabad, Telangana. In his spare time, he likes spending time with his family, reading and long walks. He is inspired by the quote “Leave things better than you found them”.