Understanding Pet Food
Pets need a diet that is 100% complete and balanced; one that is appropriate to meet their specific needs. Dogs and cats need 40+ essential nutrients. The goal is to feed the pet such that when caloric needs are met, all essential nutrients are consumed in the proper amount (complete) and ratios (balanced). This is referred to complete and balanced. There are various ways to assess a complete and balanced meal, including evaluating the pet food label, which should include an AAFCO statement, caloric density of the food, the ingredient list, and a guaranteed analysis, just to name a few.
Pet foods are regulated by FDA regulations and require proper product identification, net quantity, manufacturer or distributor name and place of business, and a listing of all ingredients in the product by descending order of weight. It is up to each individual state to enforce their own labeling regulations. Many states base their regulations on the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Model Bill and Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food. These regulations include label requirements for complete and balanced products such as the nutritional adequacy statement, feeding directions, guaranteed analysis, and calorie statement.
Many clients wish to home cook diets for their pets. There are both pro’s and cons to such decision; the most important is to ensure the pet is receiving a complete and balanced diet. Consult with a boarded veterinary nutritionist to ensure the patients’ needs are being adequately met.
Tools to further understand pet foods, please visit:
- WSAVA Guidelines for selecting pet foods
- BalanceIT calculator
- Pet food recalls
- Reporting pet food complaints