A Bone Idol Guide: Dog Food Jargon Buster

Sometimes it is hard to get to the bottom of what things mean, especially when researching your dog food and dog nutrition. To help we have written a jargon buster to explain the industry terminology all means.

We Believe in Transparency and Clear Labelling

We always aim to make our labels as clear as possible and will always tell you exactly what in your bag of dog healthy dog food from Bone Idol. sometimes that language can be a little unfamiliar but we are here to help!

We have tried to simplify but not dumb down some of the terms you might come across when reading about your dog’s health and nutrition. If there is a term you would like explained or think should be added to this list please drop us an email info@boneidolbrighton.com.

Here Comes The Science Bit...

Amino acids:
The building blocks of proteins. Used in muscle protein synthesis. Used also for some liver functions. ‘Essential’ amino acids are required but cannot be produced by your dog. Therefore, these must be present in a complete & balanced diet. They are used as building blocks to maintain muscle, create enzymes, and provide energy.


Ash: Most simply put this is the mineral matter present in a food. It’s measured by burning a sample at 500° C till all organic matter is burned and removed. This process leaves behind just the mineral content. Some minerals are important to health and wellbeing of your dog and are often listed separately on the packaging.


Cellulose: The scientific term for ‘dietary fibre’. It can be found in the cell walls of all plants and is almost entirely indigestible by dogs. Much like in humans, cellulose can aid the digestion process helping things to 'keep moving' though the digestion process and to aid passing stools comfortably. Some dog foods use powdered cellulose, literally a by product of sawdust! You really don't want to see this on the ingredients list. All the cellulose your dog needs should be naturally sourced by using quality vegetable ingredients. For example, Bone Idol Dog Food uses natural sources of cellulose found within the human grade raw and fresh vegetable ingredients rather than a powdered version.


Carbohydrates: A term you may be familiar with, Carbohydrates include sugars, starch, dietary fibre, gums, and related substances. To understand this, simply break the word down. 'Carbo' (Carbon) 'Hydrate' (Fill with water). These are long chain-like molecules. At a basic level, as carbohydrates are digested, they are broken down into shorter and shorter chains until they can be absorbed in the intestine. Essentially the longer the carbohydrate or ‘more complex’ the slower the digestion process and therefore lower on the glycaemic index.

Crude: This term is used widely in the dog food industry before words like ‘fibre’ and ‘protein’. Simple processes are used to calculate these figures, in comparison to more time consuming and scientifically detailed processes and hence ‘crude’ by comparison. That said, these ‘crude’ amounts are perfectly suitable for the pet food market. To make this clear the word crude is used in front of the component measured in a crude way.


Crude fibre: That portion of food composed of ingredients such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. These serve as structural and protective parts of plants. Crude fibre is not considered by all a viable measurement as it doesn’t represent the digestibility of a dog food or animal feed. However, it is necessary for healthy digestion.


Crude fat: A measure of the fat content as determined by ether extraction. This measure may also contain plant pigments, esters and aldehydes and that’s why it’s a ‘crude’ measurement. Ether extraction is in very simple terms like making tea. Tea + Hot Water = Caffeine, Basically the hot water allows you to extract caffeine from the tea bag. To measure fat in a crude way we use a chemical called ether and this essentially extracts the fat from the sample allowing you to measure it.


Crude protein: Total protein in a food. To calculate the protein percentage, a feed is first chemically analysed for nitrogen content. Since proteins average approximately 16 percent nitrogen, the percentage of nitrogen in the analysis is multiplied by 6.25 to give the percent crude protein.


Dry matter: The part of the food that is not water. Look for moisture % on your food labels.


Fibre: The cellulose portion of plants that is low in the total digestible nutrients and harder to

digest by some animals. This aids the movement through the digestive system and creates firm and easy to pass stools

Lipid: Lipids are a group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K), and have a greasy feel. A lipid is a type of organic molecule found in living things.

They are rich sources of dietary energy, fats are made from lipid molecules. Sources of lipid can also be found in algae, seeds, meat, cheese, butter and fish. Lipids are long chains of carbon and hydrogen molecules.

The main biological functions of lipids include storing energy, signalling, and acting as components of cell membranes.


Minerals: Animals and humans get minerals from the plants or the plant-eating animals they consume. The minerals can be chemically combined with organic molecules — molecules like amino acids or complex sugars making them easier to digest and absorb.


  • Calcium: Necessary for the formation of bone and teeth, nerve transmission, muscle contractions.


  • Phosphorus: Required for skeletal structure, DNA, RNA structure; energy metabolism.


  • Magnesium: Needed to allow enzymes to function; hormone secretions; nerve cell membrane interface.


  • Potassium: Required for healthy nerve function; enzyme reactions; energy metabolism.


  • Iron: Integral part of haemoglobin and myoglobin; energy metabolism; enzymes in respiration.


  • Copper: Connective tissue; iron metabolism; blood cell formation and defense against oxidation.


  • Zinc: Enzyme function; protein and carbohydrate metabolism; skin function and wound healing.


  • Manganese: Enzyme reactions; bone development; cartilage formation; neurological function and metabolism.


  • Selenium: Important in the immune system and protection against oxidisation.

Methyl-sulphonyl-methane (MSM): This is an organic sulphur that’s natural derivative of pine bark. It has been recommended for the treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis and other joint problems due to its anti-inflammatory effect.


Nitrogen-free extract (NFE): In dog food and animal feeds this represents soluble carbohydrates and other digestible and easily utilisable non-nitrogenous substances.


Consisting of carbohydrates, sugars, starches, and a major portion of materials classed as hemicellulose (plant cells). This is calculated as a percentage by taking the total percentages of crude protein, fat, water, ash and fibre in the dog food from 100, what is left is the NFE %.


Non fibre carbohydrates (NFC): This is the highly digestible carbohydrate fraction of a food

consisting of starches, sugars, and pectin. As mentioned before fibre helps things pass through the digestive system and so this is the portion of the carbohydrates that are digestible.


Saturated and Unsaturated fatty acids: Fats are essentially long chains of carbon. Each Carbon has four bonds. Essentially every carbon bonds to the carbon in front and behind on the chain and leaves two ‘hands’ or bonds left. In fats these bond to hydrogen atoms.


When Every spare hand or bond is attached to a hydrogen atom the fat is considered a ‘Saturated’ or ‘Hydrogenated’ fat.


However sometimes two carbon atoms are very fond of each other and form a double bonds or ‘two hands’ between them in the chain. This means that not all the ‘hands’ or bonds are not attached to a hydrogen atom and therefore it is an unsaturated fat.


Saturated fats tend to be found in animal fats, dairy, coconut oil. Unsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils and fish like salmon and tuna. They include omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

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