Read you Pet Food labels - CHEAT SHEET
What does the label really mean:
Nutritional Adequacy statement - should have one of these statements:
1) formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient
2)Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures (ideal method)
Nutritional Adequacy Statement - AAFCO
Complete and Balanced diets must be either formulated to meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines or determined to be so based on actual feeding trials. Every diet you feed should have one of these 2 statements.
Pet Food Front Labels:
- "chicken" - means 70% of the diet must contain that protein
- "with chicken" - means 3% of the diet must contain that protein
- "chicken flavor" - means chicken recognizable by the pet <3%
- "in Gravy" - >78% moisture
Determine who is the actual manufacturer - "All pet food labels must include an address to contact the manufacturer or distributor. A telephone number, email address or website address are not required. However, avoid companies that do not include at least one of these methods of contact. These days, it’s unrealistic to get timely information by mail only, and we think these tricky manufacturers do that deliberately" (quote from Tufts site)
Ingredient Statement: must list ingredients in descending order (most to least by weight of the ingredient) This could falsely elevate meats on the list because they are higher in moisture and will weigh more.
Term Meat or Meat by-product what does it mean?
- the term Meat in the ingredient list- excludes feathers, the head, feet, and entrails
- the term Meat by-products - cannot contain hair, horns, teeth, or hooves.
- Some meat by-products have nutritional values such as liver or lungs and some are very poor such as connective tissue
- So by-product doesn't always mean a poor diet but the type of by-product used might mean this - READ labels.
Pet treats: Does 'Made in USA' mean safe?
ARTICLE on Treats: Illness linked to Chinese-made jerky spurs label changes
---a good read on Pet Treats - http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=32423&callshare=1
---take-a-way: jerky treats regardless of source are still questionable
How do I pick a food for my pet?
1) No one food will be good for all pets, life stages or medical needs
2) Consult with your veterinarian about your pet's individual needs
3) understand how to read pet food labels
4) understand what AAFCO does and what it means
5) Ignore the marketing
6) Source only from the US if possible
7) Avoid novel diets or very small companies
8) Always assess how your pet is actually doing on the diet
9) Don't feed a medical needs diet if not needed ie no history of allergies or sensitivity
10) Search for recalls on the diet and determine the type of recall. Was the company being safe/proactive or was there a known danger with the diet.
11) If you home cook for your pet please utilize a veterinary nutritionist service to ensure the diet is actually balanced. See Tufts below or online visit balanceit.com for free tools
- No tested evidence that they are better
- Pose dangers to humans especially if immunocompromised
- Can introduce dangerous bacteria and parasites to pets
- Often no balanced nutrition for various life stages
- Often very high in fat
- Many are banned from pet therapy programs
- Can cause dental fractures
***take away: use caution
Grain Free Diets? Are they healthy? Read this first
References for this post:
Pet Food Labels - Demystifying the Package
37th Annual OAVT Conference & Trade Show
Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition)
Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians, Wamego, KS, USA
Answering Common Owner Questions About Pet Food
Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA, USA
Pet Food Recalls: https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/default.htm