“Is this a good food for my pet?” – Reading Nutritional Food Labels

It can be very confusing when looking at all the different food labels for your pet. How do you know what is best for your smallest family member? Many people look for “Human grade, Premium, Holistic, Organic and Natural.”. Well the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) only recognizes “Natural” as having any legitimacy. Here are two other things to look for to help pick the right food for your pet.

First look for the nutritional adequacy statement. In the United States AAFCO adequacy statement must be on all pet food labels. Within this statement three important facts are addressed. First; it will state if the food is complete and balanced. If the label reads “for intermittent or supplemental use only” it is not complete and balanced. Second; in complete and balanced food it will state what stage of life it is intended for. There are nutrient profiles and feeding trial requirements for growth, reproduction, and adult maintenance provided by AAFCO. Third; the label will state how the company determined the food is complete and balanced. You will see one of two statements regarding nutritional adequacy. The first statement would read “[Name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog (or cat) Food Nutrient Profiles for [life stage(s)].” If this statement is present then it is based on either the recipe or analytical testing of the finished product. The second statement is “Animal feeding test using AAFCO procedures substantiate [Name] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [life stage(s)].” This one is based on feeding trials.

The second thing you want to look for is the manufacture’s name and contact information. With this information you can contact the manufacture with any questions you may have about the product and the nutritional adequacy statement.

Most people believe they can pick their food based off the ingredients list. This list tells you nothing about the quality and condition of the ingredients. Always look for the nutritional adequacy statement and the manufacture and contact information.

For more information you can check out these websites:

http://www.wsava.org

http://www.petnutritionalliance.org

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