When it comes to your beloved pet’s food, the choices of which one to buy is perplexing, if not downright overwhelming. What the heck is a kibble, or a bit, when you really think about it?
Making the best decision for our four-legged loves can be daunting, but diet is perhaps the single most aspect of our pets’ lives that we can control, and it’s the cornerstone of their physical well-being. While the needs of any given cat or dog will vary greatly, we can make the smartest choices for our fur babes with some basic knowledge.
Lasso that Label
Just as we may choose do with our human foods, we can evaluate our pets’ food by decoding the label. Standards for pet food are set by the FDA, the USDA, and the FTC. You can find extensive information about the rules and regulations involved in the manufacturing of pet food on the FDA website— unfortunately it’s as dry a bone, and as convoluted as, well, the federal government’s explanation of anything.
Enter in the AAFCO, (Association of American Feed Control Officials), which develops guidelines for the production, labeling, and sale of animal foods to ensure that all pet food is “complete and balanced” for safety and nutrition. But the AAFCO does not test or certify pet foods in any way. It’s up to the pet food company to formulate their products according to the AAFCO standards, and each package of commercially produced pet food should have a label stating the product is AAFCO “complete and balanced.”
Still, “complete and balanced” can be pretty elusive. The AAFCO endorsement applies to a wide range of quality — something along the lines of “passes the test but it sure isn’t prime rib” to “essentially caviar for your pet.” Two basic keys can help with the confusion.
- All ingredients in pet food are required by law to be listed in order of weight.
- Higher quality ingredients make for healthier food, which translates to a healthier pet.
As for the weight of ingredients, beware that a common trick for manufacturers is so break down dry food ingredients. For example, the label on a bag of cat food may read, “Chicken, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, ground yellow corn, brewer’s rice, etc. The deception is that three grain sources — corn gluten meal, ground yellow corn, and brewer’s rice — are broken down to seemingly diminish the overall weight of grains, which are less desirable than the protein and fat from the chicken.
Regarding quality of ingredients, particularly beef, chicken, and fish, the truth is in the description of the product. For example, if dry dog food claims a sole ingredient such as “Chicken Dog Food,” the product must contain 95% of that ingredient.
If the label reads “Chicken Platter (or Dinner or Meal) For Dogs,” then chicken must make up at least 25% of the product. If the label reads “Dog Food With Chicken Giblets,” then the product must have at least 3% of the giblets. And if the ingredient is labeled flavored, i.e., “Chicken Flavored Dog Food,” then there’s just enough chicken flavoring (whatever the source) to be detectable.
Knoxville Pet Food Company
To make your pet food choices more clear and affordable, PetWellClinic® is affiliated with Knoxville Pet Food Company to offer high quality pet food at discounted prices. Options for regular and prescription diets are available and easy to order online for in-store pickup at our three PetWellClinics and My Pet’s Animal Hospital. We recommend the Hills Science Diet Prescription brand, as well as select Purina blends, and can help you choose the best option based on your pet’s age, size, and health.
We can also help you decide which flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products are best for your pet. By operating convenient hours for non-surgical care, PetWellClinic® is able to offer substantially discounted prices for parasite prevention products, as well as low cost vaccinations, wellness exams, and treatment of minor conditions.
We are dedicated to helping you keep your pets healthy and happy with top quality products, caring veterinarians and staff, and affordable services at convenient hours. See for yourself why so many people and their pets rely on PetWellClinic and Knoxville Pet Food Company.