Pet Food Glossary of Ingredients

  • Amino AcidAmino acids are the building blocks of the proteins, the biological workhorses of nearly every structural component of the body (see protein). Proteins are found in all living things including animals, plants and fungi. In animals, 23 amino acids are utilised, and of these 10 are essential amino acids in cats and dogs because they can only be provided by the protein in the diet. The essential amino acids are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. In addition, taurine is an essential amino acid in cats. The remaining amino acids are non-essential because they can be synthesised in the body from the essential amino acids. The non-essential amino acids are alanine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, hydroxylysine, hydroxyproline, proline, serine, tyrosine. In humans, arginine is a non-essential amino acid. As well as the biological building blocks of life, amino acids are also an important source of energy (see energy density). Obtaining the right balance of amino acids depends on the quality of protein in the diet (see protein).
  • Alpha-Linolenic AcidAlpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid (see essential fatty acids).
  • Alpha-TocopherolSee tocopherol, vitamin E.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants in the food work to ‘mop up’ free radicals, which are the waste by-products of oxidation reactions during normal cell metabolism. Free radicals are also produced when the body’s cells are damaged by disease and external factors such as toxins and radiation, and are thought to be a contributing factors in ageing, cancer, arthritis and many other degenerative diseases. Vitamin E (see tocopherol, vitamin E) and pro-vitamin A (see beta carotene, vitamin A), vitamin C (see vitamin C) and flavonoids (see flavonoids) are all good examples of powerful antioxidants found naturally in fruit and vegetables. Other antioxidants include selenium (see selenium) and zinc (see zinc). In the environment, oxidation reactions are also responsible for the corrosion and rust seen on metals such as iron. All dry pet foods require an antioxidant in order to prevent the fat components in the formula from becoming rancid on exposure to air. OSCAR pet foods are preserved naturally using tocopherols derived from fruit and vegetables. OSCAR do not use any artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives (see preservatives).
  • Arachidonic AcidArachidonic acid (AA) is an essential omega-6 fatty acid (see essential fatty acids).
  • AshAsh is a food-labelling term for the inorganic residue remaining after a sample of the food has been incinerated, and it generally represents the mineral content of the food (see minerals). The composition of a pet food is declared on the label as protein, fat/oil, carbohydrate, fibre, moisture/water and ash.
  • BarleyBarley is an excellent source starch (see carbohydrate).
  • Beta-CaroteneBeta-carotene is a carotenoid derived from a group of plant pigments that have antioxidant properties that help protect tissues from free radical damage (see antioxidants). Beta-Carotene is found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables including squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots and spinach. Dogs, like humans, can convert beta-carotene to vitamin A (see vitamin A) and this is why it is also called pro-vitamin A. Pure carnivores, such as cats do not have the ability to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A.
  • Beet PulpBeet pulp is the dried residue from the production of sugar from the sugar beet plant. It is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibre (see fibre). OSCAR use an un-molassed beet pulp from Holland.
  • Beneficial FibreBeneficial fibre is a general term used to describe the right balance of soluble and insoluble fibre in the diets of Fibrevores (see fibre, fibrevore).
  • BFAThe British Franchise Association http://www.thebfa.org/
  • BHABHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) and the related butylated compound BHT (hydroxytoluene ) are phenolic compounds that are often added to foods to preserve fats as preservatives (see preservatives). OSCAR pet foods are preserved naturally using a tocopherol (see tocopherol) blend of fruits and vegetables in addition to Vitamin E. OSCAR do not use any artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives.
  • BHTSee BHA
  • BiotinSee vitamin B7.
  • Brewer's YeastBrewer’s yeast is an excellent source of the B-complex vitamins (see vitamin B) and amino acids (see amino acid). OSCAR source their brewer's yeast from Germany.
  • CalciumCalcium (see minerals) is required to maintain the bones and teeth, the nervous system and the clotting ability of the blood. Growing and nursing animals require higher levels of calcium in the diet. Calcium levels in the body are critically linked to the levels of phosphorus (see phosphorus). Too high phosphorus and too low calcium will lead to brittle bones that are easily fractured. Growing animals are particularly sensitive to excess amounts of calcium which can lead to bone and joint deformities. Calcium is found in eggs, milk, cheese, green vegetables and whole grain foods.
  • Calcium CarbonateCalcium carbonate is used as a source of dietary calcium (see calcium). Egg shells provide a superior, more environmentally friendly source of calcium carbonate compared with limestone.
  • Calcium Iodate AnhydrousCalcium iodate anhydrous is a dietary source of the mineral iodine (see iodine).
  • CarbohydrateCarbohydrates are the primary energy-storage constituents of plants, and they are divided into 3 groups, the monosaccharides, the disaccharides and the polysaccharides. The monosaccharides are the simplest form of carbohydrate and include the sugars such as glucose (blood sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and galactose. The disaccharides are more complex and include the sugars lactose (milk sugar) and sucrose (common table sugar). Polysaccharides are the most complex and include starch and dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is further divided into soluble fibre and insoluble fibre (see fibre).
  • CarotenoidCarotenoids are a group of plant pigments with antioxidant health benefits (see antioxidant, beta-carotene, lutein).
  • CarrotsCarrots are a natural source of beta carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A needed for immune function and as an antioxidant (see antioxidant, beta-carotene). OSCAR use dried carrots from Lincolnshire.
  • CatnipCatnip is the common name for a perennial herb of the mint family. Some cats have a genetic mutation that makes them sensitive to the nepetalactone present in the plant. In these cats, nepetalactone induces a strong emotional response which many cats seem to enjoy, that is – it makes them feel good. A few cats sensitive to nepetalactone become aggressive.
  • Chelated ZincSee zinc chelate.
  • ChickenChicken is considered to be a prime source of protein because it is highly palatable, highly digestible and has a high biological value, meaning that it is easily broken down once eaten into its constituent amino acids (see amino acid). OSCAR use meat from chickens reared in the UK that does not contain the heads, feet or feathers, except in trace amounts which is unavoidable.
  • Chicken DigestChicken digest is a commercially produced powder or liquid made by taking clean chicken tissue and breaking it down into small particles, a process called hydrolysis. The digest does not contain heads, feet or feathers except in trace amounts which are unavoidable. Digest names must accurately describe their contents, so chicken digest must be made from chicken and beef digest must be made from beef. Homogenised meats, are very palatable for all animals and this is why they are used to feed critically ill and hospitalised humans, dogs and cats. OSCAR use digests in some of their pet foods to improve flavour. They are sourced from a world-leading company based in France.
  • Chicken FatSee poultry fat.
  • Chicken StockChicken stock is dehydrated chicken digest (see chicken digest).
  • ChlorideChloride (see minerals) is the main negative ion (cation) in the body and is paired with sodium, the main positive ion (anion) to maintain electrolyte balance (see sodium). Chloride helps maintain acid-bae balance, for example in the stomach, where it helps maintain the acidity which is required for proper digestion. Sources of chloride include meat, fish, dairy products and some cereals. Chloride is generally supplied in the diet with sodium as sodium chloride, which is common table salt (see sodium).
  • CholecalciferolSee vitamin D.
  • CholineSee vitamin B4.
  • ChondroitinChondroitin, a glycosaminoglycan (GAG), is an important structural component of the low-friction cartilage found within the joints that allows the free movement of one bone against another. All the joints in body, especially those of the limbs such as the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, undergo gradual degenerative changes to the cartilage matrix due to wear and tear. This is what causes osteoarthritis, a disease where the joints and surround tissues become inflamed, less mobile and painful. Supplementing the diets of dogs and cats with chondroitin (for example as chondroitin sulphate derived from cattle cartilage, mussels etc.) can help increase mobility and decrease the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Generally, chondroitin supplements are more effective when combined with glucosamine (see glucosamine). OSCAR use porcine chondroitin from a renewable source.
  • CobalaminSee vitamin B12.
  • Copper SulphateCopper (see minerals) is an essential trace mineral which is closely tied to iron in terms of functionality (see iron). Copper is necessary for normal absorption and transport of dietary iron. Along with iron, copper is essential for the normal formation of haemoglobin. Copper deficiency results in disorders similar to that seen with iron deficiency. For example, anaemia, de-pigmentation of coloured hair coat and impaired skeletal growth in young animals. Although copper deficiency is not common in dogs and cats, an inherited disorder of copper metabolism that results in copper toxicosis occurs in several different breeds of dogs. Copper is found in meat, especially liver and some cereal grains.
  • CornSee Maize.
  • Cranberry ExtractCranberries are high in vitamin C (see antioxidants, vitamin C) and the extract was once used by sailors on long se voyages to prevent scurvy. Cranberry juice is still recommended today to help prevent disorders of the urinary tract such as cystitis. OSCAR supplements their cat foods with cranberry extract for the same reason.
  • ChromiumChromium (see minerals) is involved with blood glucose (sugar) homeostasis because it facilitates the activity of insulin by increasing insulin sensitivity (type 2 diabetes is caused by the opposite, insulin resistance). In other words chromium is essential for the maintenance of blood sugar levels. Sources of chromium include meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach).
  • CobaltCobalt (see minerals) is a structural component of vitamin B12 (see vitamin B12) and is therefore not required as a supplement on its own.
  • Crude FibreSee fibre and beet pulp. Crude fibre is the term used in the list of ingredients on the label of a foodstuff and it includes both soluble and insoluble fibre (see fibre).
  • Cupric SulphateSee copper sulphate.
  • DHADHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid (see essential fatty acids).
  • Dicalcium PhosphateCalcium and phosphorous are both essential macro minerals as part of a daily balanced diet. See calcium and phosphorous.
  • DisaccharideSee carbohydrate.
  • EggEgg yolk is a good source of fat (see fat), whilst egg whites contain the purest form of protein found in whole foods (see protein). Eggs are also a valuable source of vitamins (see vitamins) and minerals (see minerals). OSCAR source dried egg powder from Yorkshire.
  • Egg ShellsEgg shells are an excellent source of calcium (see calcium) with a small amount of protein. Egg shells provide a superior, more environmentally friendly source of calcium compared with limestone.
  • Energy DensityAll living cells require a constant source of energy in order to function. This energy is provided in the protein, carbohydrate and fat in the diet. The energy density of a diet is the total energy per unit weight in grams or kilograms of a portion of the diet. Energy density can also be used to describe individual nutrients, so fat has twice the energy density of carbohydrate or protein.
  • EPAEPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid (see essential fatty acids).
  • ErgocalciferolSee vitamin D.
  • Essential Fatty AcidsEssential fatty acids (EFA) include the omega-3 and the omega-6 families of fatty acids. While dogs and cats can synthesise some EFA from other fats in the diet, they cannot synthesise them all, hence the term ‘essential’, because of a dietary requirement for some EFA. The ‘parent’ EFA of the omega-3 family is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), from which eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are synthesised. The ‘parent’ EFA of the omega-6 family is linoleic acid (LA), from which the arachidonic acid (AA) is synthesised. When diets are supplemented with EFA, either the parent compounds (ALA, LA) can be used, or their derivatives (EPA, DHA, AA). Addition of the parent compounds to the diet requires their conversion to the biologically active forms, while providing the active EFA directly does not. Cats are special in this regard because they cannot convert ALA to EPA or DHA, nor can they convert LA to AA, therefore they require diets already containing AA, EPA and DHA. When EFA are supplemented in the diet, great care must be taken in the formulation in order to get the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 correct. This is because some of these compounds share common enzyme systems in the body and therefore compete with each other. A good example is ALA and LA where the ratio needs to be about 2.6:1 in order to prevent LA interfering with the utilisation of ALA. In other words, feeding an animal EFA supplements that are not balanced may well have the opposite effect of that intended because an excess of either omega-3 or omega-6 will interfere with the biological activity of the other. The EFA can be arranged into 3 broad functional groups: (1) Skin, Hair and Coat: LA (omega-3) and ALA (omega-6) work together to maintain a healthy skin and coat. A deficiency can lead to dry, scaly skin, damaged foot pad and a course coat with hair loss. A deficiency of dietary AA in pregnant cats can lead to foetal abnormalities, and the kittens of these cats may have difficulty in having kittens themselves. (2) Inflammatory Moderators: The right balance of EPA (omega-3) and AA (omega-6) in the diet plays an important role in moderating chronic inflammatory processes all over the body such as the dermatitis, osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal health, kidney disease and even cancer. (3) Nervous System and Eyes: DHA (omega-3) is a vital EFA for normal development of the brain and the retina at the back of the eyes. Puppies and kittens that are deficient in DHA during gestation and lactation, because the diet of their mothers was deficient, have poorer eyesight and are less able to learn as they grow older. Different groups of EFA come from different foodstuffs and some dietary sources are better than others. Sources of ALA (omega-3) include flax seed (linseed) oil (good), rapeseed oil, some nuts (poor), muscle, organ meet and eggs from land animals (poor). Sources of DHA and EPA (omega-3) include oily fish (e.g. herring) and seafood such as krill (good). There are no good sources of DHA or EPA found in plant-based foodstuffs. Sources of LA (omega-6) include corn, cottonseed and soy oil (good), flax seed (linseed) oil (poor) muscle, organ meet and eggs from land animals (variable, depending on what the animals were fed). Some seed oils such as sunflower have traditionally been high in LA, but in modern crops this has been significantly reduced by genetic modification because of concerns over human health. Sources of AA (omega-6) include animal fats (good). As noted above, cats cannot convert ALA to EPA or DHA, nor can they convert LA to AA, so they must be fed diets supplemented with these omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
  • EthoxyquinEthoxyquin is a quinoline-based antioxidant used as a food preservative (E324) and a pesticide (see preservatives). OSCAR pet foods are preserved naturally using a tocopherol (see tocopherol) blend of fruits and vegetables in addition to Vitamin E (see vitamin E). OSCAR do not use any artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives.
  • FatFats found in food come in 2 forms at room temperature, solid fats and liquid oils, which is determined by the degree of saturation of the fat. In saturated fats the molecules are packed tightly together which prevents fluid movement, making them more solid. In unsaturated fats the molecules are less tightly packed together which allows more freedom of movement between them, making them more fluid. Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are nutritionally very important because they include the omega-3 and the omega-6 essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids). Fats contain twice the amount of energy compared to carbohydrates or proteins, so one major function of dietary fats is to provide energy in the most concentrated form (see energy density). Fats also serve as a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K (see vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K).
  • Fat ContentSee fat.
  • Ferrous Sulphate MonohydrateSee iron.
  • FibreFibre in the diet is a carbohydrate (see carbohydrate) which is important for maintaining normal gastrointestinal transit time and motility. There are 2 kinds of fibre, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is a good food source for the ‘friendly bacteria’ in the large intestine, which is why it is called a prebiotic (see prebiotic). Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), derived from the chicory plant, favour the growth of beneficial bacterial colonies while reducing the colonies of potentially harmful bacteria in the small intestines. Mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS), derived from the cell walls of yeasts, have similar effects on the intestinal flora. Soluble fibre also slows the rate of food passage through the gut which helps ensure the maximum digestion and absorption of nutrients. Insoluble fibre increases peristalsis, helps an animal to feel satisfactorily full and provides a crunchy texture to the kibbles that can help with oral hygiene. A quality fibre source in the correct proportion may help to reduce the incidence of conditions such as diabetes mellitus and obesity. It may also help to prevent constipation and diarrhoea. Beet pulp is a good source of both types of fibre (see beet pulp). OSCAR use an unmolassed beet pulp from Holland.
  • Fish OilOily fish such as salmon are a rich source of the omega-3 essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids).
  • Fish MealFish meal is a source of high-quality protein, energy, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. Fish meal derived from oily fish is also a rich source of the omega-3 essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids). OSCAR source white fish meal from Grimsby.
  • Flax SeedFlax seed is another name for linseed which is a good source of fibre. In dogs, but not in cats, the oil of this plant seed is a reasonable source of the omega-3 essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (see essential fatty acids).
  • FlavonoidsThe flavonoids are a group of organic compounds with strong antioxidant properties (see antioxidants). They are found in abundance in fruits such as blueberries.
  • Folic AcidSee vitamin B9.
  • Fly StrikeFly strike is particularly nasty condition that can affect rabbits with damp or dirty fur, especially when soiled with faeces and urine. Green bottle flies lay their eggs in the fur where they hatch into larvae. The larvae migrate down into the skin. Following their moult the larvae then start to eat their way into the body tissue. Fly strike is a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary care.
  • Fructo-oligosaccharideSee fibre.
  • GlucosamineGlucosamine is a natural disaccharide sugar (see carbohydrates) and is one of the building blocks of glycosaminoglycan (see chondroitin) found in the cartilage within the joints. Like chondroitin, glucosamine is an important structural component of joints, and along with chondroitin supplementation, it can help increase mobility and decrease the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Common sources of glucosamine used as supplements include glucosamine hydrochloride derived from the chitin in the crushed shells of crabs, lobsters and shrimp.
  • GlutenGluten, or specifically gliadin, is the protein responsible for causing gluten-sensitive gastrointestinal diseases in humans and dogs. Gliadins are present in wheat, barley, rye, buckwheat and oat flour grains. Gliadin-free foodstuffs include other sources of grains such as corn and rice.
  • HelplineThe OSCAR helpline is a FREE service for OSCAR customers providing advice on behaviour, veterinary and nutritional queries: helpline@oscars.co.uk or 0800 195 8000.
  • Herb ExtractsHerb extracts are a combination of herbs included in some diets as general health-promoters.
  • HerringHerring is an oily fish high in protein, energy, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. Oily fish are also a rich source of the omega-3 essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids). OSCAR source herring from the North Sea.
  • HideHide refers to pressed bison hide cut into strips and used as dog treats.
  • Honest LabelOSCAR have adopted a 100% honest label declaration of the ingredients of all their pet foods. Compare the labelling of other brands of pet food, they may not always be as clear and as easy to read as OSCAR’s.
  • Hydrolysed ProteinHydrolysed proteins (see chicken and protein) are broken down into smaller chains of amino acids (see amino acid) in order to make the end product more digestible and nutritious. The hydrolysis of proteins in hypoallergenic diets can help minimise dietary intolerances in cats and dogs.
  • HypoallergenicHypoallergenic is a general term used to describe foodstuffs that are less likely to induce dietary-related allergic responses in cats and dogs with specific food sensitivities. Hypoallergenic diets often contain hydrolysed protein (see hydrolysed protein).
  • Inorganic MatterSee ash.
  • IodineIodine (see minerals) is required for the production of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). T4 is the active form of thyroid hormone which controls the growth and development of all living cells, and the rate of their ongoing metabolic processes. Sources of iodine include seaweed (see kelp, seaweed) and some oily seeds, but this depends on the levels of iodine in the soil.
  • IronIron is an essential trace mineral which is closely tied to copper in terms of functionality (see copper). Iron is needed for the formation of haemoglobin, the molecule within red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen around the body which fuels every living cell. Low levels of iron affect the formation of red blood cells, leading to anaemia. The best sources of iron are organ meats, such as liver and kidney; other meats such as fish and whole grains are also adequate sources.
  • KelpKelp is derived from seaweed and is a rich source of iodine (see iodine).
  • LambLamb is often used in hypoallergenic diets (see hypoallergenic, hydrolysed protein). It is a good source of protein (see protein) and also rich in calcium (see calcium). Lamb is produced from meat trimmings and the clean parts of the carcass which is cooked and dried. It does not include the wool, blood, head, hooves and specified risk material such as the spinal cord. OSCAR source Lamb from the UK.
  • L-CarnitineL-carnitine is a non-essential amino acid (see amino acid) that is synthesised from the essential amino acids lysine and methionine in the liver in dogs, humans and most other mammals, and in the kidneys in cats. Supplementation of L-carnitine may help boost fat metabolism thereby supporting healthy weight loss. L-carnitine may also benefit working dogs by helping overall performance. L-carnitine is also required for the metabolism of essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids). L-Carnitine is found in animal products such as red meat (good), fish and dairy products (moderate) and vegetables (poor).
  • L-TryptophanL-Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids (see amino acids). Along with its role in the synthesis of proteins in the body, it is also used to synthesise melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in daily sleep-wake cycles and serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in the regulation of mood states and emotions. Low levels of available serotonin in the brain is associated with reduced feelings of well-being, anxiety, depression and aggression.
  • LignocelluloseLignocellulose is a dietary fibre (see fibre).
  • LimestoneSee calcium.
  • Linoleic AcidLinoleic acid (LA) is an essential omega-6 fatty acid (see essential fatty acids).
  • LinseedLinseed is another name for flax seed (see flax seed). OSCAR use pressed Linseed cake produced in the UK.
  • Local Nutritional AdvisorLocal Nutritional Advisors are a network of trained OSCAR advisors that will visit you at home to introduce the foods and services we offer. Your Local Nutritional Advisor will also deliver your OSCAR products directly to your door.
  • LuteinLutein is a naturally occurring carotenoid (see carotenoid). Lutein is found in the lens of the eye where it filters blue light and protects the retinal cell from light damage. Lutein is found in many fruits and vegetables including dark green leafy plants, kale and spinach. OSCAR lutein is sourced from Lucerne.
  • MagnesiumMagnesium (see minerals) is an important cofactor for many metabolic enzyme systems. It is a key element for the conduction of nerve impulses along nerves and for the electrical activity of heart muscle that controls the beating of the heart. Magnesium also plays a role in maintaining the structural matrix of bone as magnesium carbonate and magnesium phosphate. Magnesium is found in meat, fish, bone meal, soya beans and cereals.
  • Manganous OxideManganous Oxide is a dietary source of the mineral manganese (see manganese).
  • MaizeMaize, or corn, is a starch and therefore a member of the polysaccharide family of carbohydrates (see carbohydrate). Its primary functions is to supply a steady source of energy throughout the day and therefore help maintain stable blood sugar levels. Uncooked, starches are not easily digested, but when well-cooked they are about 100% digestible. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are also a good source of starch. OSCAR use certified GM free maize from France.
  • ManganeseManganese (see minerals) is required in many metabolic processes such as the conversion of amino acids and glycerol to glucose, fat metabolism and in the formation of bone. It is also required in the nervous system. manganese is also associated with free-radical scavenging by antioxidants (see antioxidants). Sources of manganese include meat and meat by-products, and some cereal grains.
  • Mannan-oligosaccharideSee fibre.
  • MealMeal is a general manufacturing term for raw meat material that has been ground through a sieve. The finer the meal particles, the more palatable the material is and the better it performs as an extruded nugget. For example, chicken meal includes the whole bird after removing bones, head, feet, feathers etc. What is left is then sterilised, cooked, dried and ground, then stabilised with natural antioxidants (see antioxidants). The resulting meal has a high digestibility value of over 90%. All meat meals must be from animals that have been certified as fit for human consumption. The inclusion of meat products into pet foods that has not been inspected by Government-registered veterinarians is not permitted.
  • Mechanical EnergyMechanical Energy is a term used to describe the design of OSCAR Super Premium Agility and Premium Agility cat foods. Because cats sheer their food rather than chewing it, air pockets have been introduced into the kibble so that they crunch more easily.
  • Menaquinone-7See vitamin K.
  • MethionineMethionine is a sulphur-containing (see sulphur) essential amino acid (see amino acid) and is an important component of structural proteins found in many tissues such as the skin and hair.
  • MineralsMinerals are inorganic compounds used for many different metabolic processes in the body such as the formation of bones and teeth, the conduction of nerve impulses, the activation of enzymes and the maintenance of electrolyte balance. There are 2 categories of minerals based on the quantities found in the body. Macro minerals are present in significant amounts and include calcium, chloride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur. Trace minerals are present only in tiny amounts and include chromium, copper, cobalt, iodine, manganese, selenium and zinc. The mineral requirements of cats and dogs varies depending on age, and also to some extent on breed and gender.
  • MK-7See vitamin K.
  • MoistureMoisture is a legal term used on food packaging that indicates the relative water content of the food as a percent of all the main ingredients, namely protein, fat, fibre, ash, moisture and carbohydrate.
  • MonosaccharideSee carbohydrate.
  • MontmorilloniteMontmorillonite is a natural Australian clay which is a rich source of essential minerals (see minerals).
  • MSMMSM (methylsulphonylmethane) has shown some effectiveness in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis. However, MSM can cause some undesirable side effects and should not be feed to dogs and cats that are taking medicines without consulting the veterinarian responsible for the animal because it can interact with some drugs.
  • MucopolysaccharideA mucopolysaccharide is a glycosaminoglycans (GAG) (see chondroitin, mussel extract, sea cucumber).
  • Mussel ExtractsGreen mussel extract is a rich source of glycosaminoglycans (GAG) such as chondroitin sulphate (see chondroitin).
  • Naked OatsNaked oats are a variety of oats bred to grow without the outer husk. Naked oats have a lower fibre content (see fibre) and a higher tryptophan content (see L-tryptophan) than standard oats.
  • NiacinSee vitamin B3.
  • NucleotidesNucleotides are the structural units of DNA and RNA, the double-helix molecules that are the building block of genes. Nucleotides are also involved in the maintenance of a healthy immune system and they interact with some of the B vitamins (see vitamin B) where they facilitate the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. OSCAR us an inactive yeast as a carrier for nucleotides, and this is also a good source of essential B vitamins.
  • NutraceuticalThe term ‘nutraceutical’ is an ambiguous and poorly defined one used to describe a number of products, including variously refined dietary supplements, plant extracts and phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, whole-foods etc. Although the term is often misused, a nutraceutical is a food substance that renders some tangible health benefits beyond its immediate described nutritional value.
  • OatsOats are an excellent source of starch (see carbohydrate, starch). Oats have a lower glycaemic index than other starch sources such as potato or rice. Glycaemic index is an indicator of how quickly a carbohydrate source is absorbed and metabolised in the body, and lower glycaemic index carbohydrates are a more sustained energy source than higher glycaemic index carbohydrates.
  • OilSee fat.
  • Omega-3Omega 3 is group of essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids).
  • Omega-6Omega 6 is group of essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids).
  • Pantothenic AcidSee vitamin B5.
  • PeasPeas are an excellent source starch (see carbohydrate) and of protein which is similar to soya protein (see protein). OSCAR use peas sourced in the UK.
  • PhosphorusPhosphorus (see minerals) is required to maintain the bones and teeth, and growing and nursing animals require higher levels of phosphorus in the diet. Phosphorus levels in the body are critically linked to the levels of calcium (see calcium). Too high phosphorus and too low calcium will lead to brittle bones that are easily fractured. Growing animals are particularly sensitive to calcium / phosphorus imbalances which can lead to bone and joint deformities. Phosphorus is found in meat and bones, dairy products and cereal grains.
  • PolysaccharideSee carbohydrate.
  • Polyunsaturated Fatty AcidsPolyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) are a group of essential fatty acids (EFA) that animals must acquire from the food they eat (see essential fatty acids, fat).
  • PotassiumPotassium (see minerals) is one of the most important macro minerals because, along with sodium (see sodium) and chloride (see chloride), it is responsible for the conduction of nerve impulses within the brain and nervous system and for the maintenance of acid-base electrolyte balance in all the bodily fluids. Potassium is found in meat and fish, dairy products, some cereal grains, peas and potatoes.
  • PotatoPotatoes are an excellent source starch (see carbohydrate) which, when cooked are highly digestible and therefore ideal for dogs with sensitive digestion. Potatoes are gluten-free (see gluten). OSCAR source a top-quality potato starch from Denmark.
  • Poultry FatChicken oil has a high and consistent level of the essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids) that are necessary for a healthy skin and coat, and is considered to be the highest quality fat source available. OSCAR use only pure chicken oil purchased from a supplier to the human food industry. Its digestibility is superior over the cheaper beef tallow, lamb and blended fats used in many other pet foods, and it is an excellent source of energy (see energy density).
  • Poultry MealPoultry meal is a dry, sterile product derived from processing poultry meat such as chicken (see chicken).
  • Prairie MealPrairie meal is the dried by-product of the manufacture of maize starch. It is rich in protein (protein) and energy (see energy density) and is also moderately high in starch (see carbohydrate).
  • PrebioticSee fibre.
  • PreservativesPreservatives are required in all dry pet foods as antioxidants to prevent the fat components in the diet from becoming rancid on exposure to air. OSCAR pet foods are preserved naturally using a tocopherol (see tocopherol) blend of fruits and vegetables in addition to Vitamin E. OSCAR do not use any artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives.
  • ProteinProtein is made up of chains of amino acids and it provides the body with these amino acids (see amino acid) and also with nitrogen. The amino acids and nitrogen in the protein consumed in the diet are quickly used up in the constant turnover and regeneration of tissue (muscles, organs, skin etc.), so protein is not stored in the body like carbohydrates and fats. Proteins are the biological workhorses of nearly every structural component of the body where they serve numerous functions, including muscle growth and tissue repair along with enzyme, blood, immune system and hormone activity. The amino acids in protein are also an important source of energy (see energy density). The quality of protein in the diet is very important because of the amino acids they contain. High quality proteins include egg (see eggs), herring (see herring), chicken and chicken meal (see chicken, chicken meal). Poorer quality proteins include soya bean and some wheats.
  • PUFASee polyunsaturated fatty acid.
  • PyridoxineSee vitamin B6.
  • RetinolSee vitamin A.
  • RiboflavinSee vitamin B2.
  • RiceWhole-grain white rice is high in energy (see energy density) and low in protein (see protein). Brown rice is often perceived as the healthier option, but white rice is simply brown rice with the husk removed. Rice husks are of little nutritional value in dogs and are therefore excluded from OSCAR diets. Rice is a very digestible energy source and is used to promote a steady energy release throughout the day which also helps stabilise blood sugar levels. Rice is gluten-free (see gluten).
  • SaltSee sodium and minerals.
  • Sea CucumberSea Cumber is a rich source of glycosaminoglycans (GAG) such as chondroitin sulphate (see chondroitin).
  • SeaweedSeaweed is a rich source of minerals and vitamins (see minerals, vitamins).
  • SeleniumSelenium (see minerals) is required for the activation of thyroid hormone from its precursors. It also supports the immune system and is involved with vitamin E as an antioxidant (see vitamin E, antioxidants). Sources of selenium include meat and fish and some cereal grains.
  • SodiumSodium (see minerals) is one of the most important macro minerals because, along with potassium (see potassium) and chloride (see chloride), it is responsible for the conduction of nerve impulses within the brain and nervous system and for the maintenance of acid-base electrolyte balance in all the bodily fluids. Sodium is constantly being excreted by the kidneys into the urine so a constant supply is needed in the diet, usually in the form of sodium chloride (common table salt), or in some other form such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Sodium chloride, or common table salt, is not added to pet foods as a palatability enhancer, but it may be added to some foods where there is insufficient present naturally in the other ingredients. Sodium is found in meat, fish, bone and blood meal.
  • Sodium SeleniteSodium Selenite is a dietary source of the mineral selenium (see selenium).
  • Soya HullsSoya hulls are a good fibre source (see fibre). OSCAR use soya hulls from soya beans grown in North and South America and processed in the UK.
  • Soya OilSoya oil is a good, meat-free source of the omega-6 essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids). OSCAR use soya oil from soya beans grown in North and South America and processed in the UK.
  • StarchSee carbohydrate.
  • SulphurSulphur (see minerals) is an integral structural element in many compounds including mucopolysaccharides (see chondroitin, mussel extract, sea cucumber), insulin and the sulphur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine (see amino acids). Sources of sulphur include meat and fish.
  • Sweet PotatoSweet Potato is an excellent source of gluten-free starch (see potato). Sweet potato also contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant, giving the flesh its orangey colour (see beta-carotene, gluten).
  • TapiocaTapioca is a source of gluten-free carbohydrate (see carbohydrate, gluten, starch).
  • TaurineTaurine is an amino acid (see amino acid) which is non-essential in most mammals because it can be synthesised from methionine and cysteine. However, taurine is an essential dietary amino acid in cats because they are unable to synthesise it. Taurine is a particularly important amino acid for proper heart function and a deficiency results in dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) where the heart becomes weakened and enlarged. Taurine is found in meat and fish and concentrations are particularly high in heart and skeletal muscle. Cats fed home-made vegetarian diets are at risk of taurine deficiency without additional supplementation, commercial cat foods are always supplemented with taurine.
  • ThiamineSee vitamin B1.
  • TocopherolThe Tocopherols are antioxidants (see antioxidants) and are a type of vitamin E (see vitamin E) derived from fruit and vegetable extracts of natural origin. OSCAR pet foods are preserved naturally using a tocopherol blend of fruits and vegetables, in addition to Vitamin E. All dry pet foods require an antioxidant in order to prevent the fat components in the diet from becoming rancid on exposure to air. OSCAR do not use any artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives (see preservatives).
  • TryptophanSee L-tryptophan.
  • TurkeyTurkey meat is used as an alternative to chicken as a primary protein source (see chicken).
  • VitaminsVitamins are a group of nutrients that are required for many metabolic process within the body. There are 2 categories of vitamins based on their solubility, the water-soluble vitamins (B and C) and the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). For information on individual vitamins, see this glossary. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body so they must be readily available in the diet, ideally on a daily basis to avoid deficiencies. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in fat tissue and in the liver so a daily availability is not so crucial. However, young animals have a limited capacity to store fat-soluble vitamins and this needs to be taken into account in their diets.
  • Vitamin AVitamin A is retinol, which is the active form of vitamin A and includes retinal and retinyl esters found in animal tissue. Other forms of vitamin found in plants (plant carotenoids) include beta-carotene (see beta-carotene), these must be converted to an active form of vitamin A in the body before they can be utilised. Retinol is required for the synthesis of rhodopsin, the compound in the retina of the eye that responds to light and enables vision. Retinal is also a powerful antioxidant (see antioxidants) and it is responsible for the formation of tissues and bones during growth and development. Retinal and retinyl esters are found in meat (liver is an excellent source) and eggs. Plant carotenoids are found in green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach) and orange-coloured vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes). Pure carnivores, such as cats do not have the ability to convert plant carotenoids to vitamin A.
  • Vitamin B1Vitamin B1 is thiamine, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Thiamine is involved in many metabolic pathways such as amino acid (see amino acid) and glucose (see carbohydrate) metabolism. The daily requirements of thiamine in cats is about 3 times that of dogs. Thiamine is found in many foods, particularly good sources include muscle and organ meat, yeast, seeds nuts, beans and lentils.
  • Vitamin B2Vitamin B2 is riboflavin, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Thiamine is involved in many metabolic pathways in the body such as the conversion of tryptophan (see amino acid) to niacin (see vitamin B3) in dogs, but not cats. It is also involved in the synthesis of retinoic acid from retinol (see vitamin A). Riboflavin is found in many foods, particularly good sources include muscle and organ meat, dairy foods, eggs and green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach).
  • Vitamin B3Vitamin B3 is niacin, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Niacin is involved in many metabolic pathways in the body such as amino acid (see amino acid), glucose (see carbohydrate) and fatty acid (see essential fatty acids) metabolism. In dogs, but not cats, niacin can also be synthesised from tryptophan (see Vitamin B2, vitamin B6, amino acid). Niacin is found in many foods, particularly good sources include muscle and organ meat, beans and lentils.
  • Vitamin B4Vitamin B4 is choline, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Choline is involved in many metabolic pathways in the body such as the synthesis of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain, nervous system and the muscles. While dogs and cats can synthesise some choline from phospholipids (see fat), it is not enough for their daily requirements so additional choline is required in the diet. Choline is found in many foods, particularly good sources include liver, eggs, soya beans, cauliflower and green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach).
  • Vitamin B5Vitamin B5 is pantothenic acid, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Pantothenic acid is a structural component of Coenzyme A, the ‘energy-driver’ involved in the synthesis of certain proteins (see amino acid, protein) and fatty acids (see essential fatty acids). Pantothenic acid is found in many foods, particularly good sources include muscle and organ meat, dairy foods, eggs, cereals, beans and lentils.
  • Vitamin B6Vitamin B6 is pyridoxine, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Pyridoxine is a cofactor in the metabolism of fatty acids (see essential fatty acids), the synthesis of glucose from amino acids (see amino acid) and glycerol (see fat), and for haemoglobin synthesis (also see iron, copper). Pyridoxine is also a cofactor in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine, histamine, noradrenaline and serotonin, and the amino acid taurine in dogs and other mammals, but not in cats (see amino acid). In dogs, but not cats, pyridoxine is also involved in the synthesis of niacin (see vitamin B3) from tryptophan (see amino acid). Pyridoxine is found in many foods, particularly good sources include muscle and organ meat, dairy foods, eggs and green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach).
  • Vitamin B7Vitamin B7 is biotin, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Biotin is a structural component of Coenzyme A, the ‘energy-driver’ involved in the synthesis of certain proteins (see amino acid, protein) and fatty acids (see essential fatty acids). Biotin is synthesised in the gastrointestinal tract of cats and dogs by the normal bacterial flora (see fibre), so nutritional deficiencies are rare. However, in animals with chronic intestinal or liver disease, additional supplementation may be required. Biotin is found in yellow egg yolk (not the whites), liver and yeast. Biotin is also synthesised by the microflora (good bacteria) in the gastrointestinal tract (see fibre).
  • Vitamin B9Vitamin B9 is folic acid, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Folic acid is a cofactor in the synthesis of non-essential amino acids (see amino acid) such as glycine, serine (and in humans methionine, which is a non-essential amino acid). Folic acid is also a cofactor in the synthesis of thymine, one of the nucleotide bases of DNA (see nucleotides). Folic acid is found in many foods, particularly good sources include muscle and organ meat, dairy foods, eggs and green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach).
  • Vitamin B12Vitamin B12 is cobalamin, a member of the water-soluble B vitamins (see vitamin B). Cobalamin is a cofactor in the metabolism of fatty acids (see essential fatty acids), the synthesis of glucose from primarily amino acids (see amino acid) and glycerol (see fat), and for haemoglobin synthesis (also see iron, copper). Cobalamin is synthesised in the large intestine of cats and dogs by the normal bacterial flora (see fibre). However, this source of cobalamin is unavailable because it is too far down the gastrointestinal tract to be absorbed, so cobalamin is an essential dietary vitamin. Cobalamin is found in many foods, particularly good sources include muscle and organ meat and eggs. There is no cobalamin present in non-meat nutrients so in animals fed vegetarian diets, supplementation is especially important.
  • Vitamin CVitamin C is ascorbic acid, which is structurally similar to the monosaccharide sugars (see carbohydrate). With the exception of humans and guinea pigs, most animals can synthesise ascorbic acid from glucose, so there is no dietary requirement for this vitamin. Ascorbic acid is a good antioxidant (see antioxidants), but there is little evidence that vitamin C supplements have any health benefits for dogs and cats. Sources of ascorbic acid include Vitamin fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and red and green peppers.
  • Vitamin DVitamin D is cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) derived from animal sources and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) derived from plant sources. Both forms are vitamin D are biologically active. The primary role of cholecalciferol is to control the balance of calcium (see calcium) and phosphorus (see phosphorus) between the bones, liver, kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract. That is, cholecalciferol ensures that bones develop properly and that they maintain their structural integrity and strength throughout life. The development of rickets is the classic example of a diet inadequate in vitamin D. Cholecalciferol is found in many foods, particularly good sources include liver and oily fish (herring, mackerel, salmon). There is some ergocalciferol present in green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach), but not enough to meet daily needs, so for animals fed vegetarian diets, supplementation is especially important. Even though humans synthesise cholecalciferol in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet light (sunlight), it is such an important vitamin that in most Western countries, milk and other dairy products are fortified with vitamin D. Cats and dogs cannot synthesise cholecalciferol in the skin so supplementation in the diet is therefore essential.
  • Vitamin EVitamin E is alpha-tocopherol, the most biologically active form of vitamin E. The other tocopherols in the vitamin E family are beta-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol and delta-tocopherol. The primary role of the tocopherols in the body is as antioxidants (see antioxidants), where they prevent damage by free radicals to the essential fatty acids (see essential fatty acids), DNA (see nucleotides) and in many other tissues. Tocopherols also help prevent the inappropriate formation of blood clots within blood vessels by inhibiting the aggregation of blood platelets. Tocopherols are found in many foods, particularly good sources include nuts and seed oils.
  • Vitamin KVitamin K is menaquinone-7 (MK-7), menaquinone-7 is a substrate for coagulation factors that are responsible for activating the blood clotting process that prevents excessive bleeding when tissue is injured. Menaquinone-7 is also responsible for activating the process that leads to bone formation. In healthy cats and dogs, adequate quantities of Menaquinone-7 are synthesised in the gastrointestinal tract by the normal bacterial flora (see fibre), so nutritional deficiencies are rare. However, in animals with chronic intestinal or liver disease, additional supplementation may be required. Cobalamin is found in many foods, particularly good sources include muscle and organ meat dairy foods, eggs, green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach), beans and lentils.
  • WaterWater is the most important nutrient and it makes up approximately 70% of an animal's live weight. An animal could lose almost all of its body fat and a quarter of its protein and still survive; yet a 15% loss of water is likely to result in death. Water within the cells is necessary for most metabolic processes and chemical reactions. It is important for temperature regulation and is an essential component of normal digestion. Elimination of waste products from the kidneys also requires a large amount of water. There are 2 main sources of water, ingested water in the food and water consumed, and metabolic water produced during the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
  • WheatWheat is a common source of carbohydrates (see carbohydrate). Whole wheat, with the husks, contains about 50% starch (see carbohydrate) compared with wheat flour where starch is around 70%. Wheat germ is a good source of some of the B vitamins (see vitamin B), magnesium (magnesium) and zinc (see zinc). Wheat contains gluten (see gluten). OSCAR source a top-quality wheat grown in the UK.
  • Whole LinseedSee linseed.
  • YeastSee brewer's yeast.
  • Yucca PlantYucca schidigera is a member of the lily family, found in the deserts of the South-Western United States and Northern Mexico. There is some evidence that the phenolic compounds in the yucca plant have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (see antioxidants).
  • ZincZinc is an essential trace element required by over 200 enzyme systems in the body that control many metabolic processes such as carbohydrate and protein synthesis and metabolism, and tissue growth and repair. A zinc deficiency therefore has wide-ranging effects such as crusting of the skin and delayed wound healing, a brittle, damaged coat with hair loss, stunted growth and a weakened immune system. Chelated zinc supplements are more readily adsorbed into the body than any other form of zinc, therefore better supporting a pet’s zinc levels. Zinc supplements can help some dogs with chronic skin disease and excessive hair loss or shedding. Zinc is found in many foodstuffs including meats, cereals and seeds.
  • Zinc ChelateSee zinc.

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