by Dr. Patty Gabig
The Pet food industry has grown so much in the past decade that deciding what type of food to feed your pet can be an ordeal and even worse when you have a pet with a dietary intolerance or disease, like kidney failure. It’s hard not to be persuaded by all the advice “out there” from: advertisers, breeders, the pet store check out clerk or on-line (Food Babe, The Dog Food Advisor) to name a few. Who to trust? The best way to make an informed decision is with your pet’s veterinarian. Your vet understands your pet and can help you find some good options or point you in the right direction.
-If you pay a lot for a pet food it doesn’t guarantee that it’s a good diet.
-It’s not the ingredients but the nutrients that are most important in a good food.
-If the label does not list the calories, put it back. This is a red flag for possible quality control issues.
-If the product does NOT indicate that it meets AAFCO requirements, don’t buy it.
-Recipes for homemade or raw meat diets MUST meet AAFCO requirements
-Many on-line or in print for homemade recipes and raw meat diets do NOT meet AAFCO requirements
-Consult with a veterinary nutritionist if you are going to feed a homemade or raw meat diet.
-“Pre-Mix” diets where you just add the meat usually do not meet AAFCO requirements.
-The first ingredient on a pet food label does not always mean that that is the main ingredient your pet is getting when fed.
-Pet food labels can be misleading. In order to really tell what % protein, carbohydrate or fat is in a product you must calculate it. A good calculator can be found at: balanceit.com. Click on the “help” button and select “guaranteed analysis converter” from the drop down menu. Enter the pet food product information in here.
-Cats are carnivores, blueberries may sound great but they gain no nutritional value from them.
-The term “human grade” can be misleading. If a pet food lists itself as human grade then ALL of the ingredients must be human grade. Not just one ingredient, like chicken, for example.
Reliable Internet Sources
-Pet Nutrition Alliance http://petnutritionalliance.org/
-Petfoodology-Tufts University VMC Clinical Nutrition Service http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/petfoodology/
-Blog by Dr. Lisa Weeth DVM DACVN http://weethnutrition.wordpress.com/
-AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials information for Pet Owners) http://talkspetfood.aafco.org/
-Q&A with Rebecca Remillard Phd, dvm,davcn-search various topics http://www.petsdiets.com/ Select: “Ask the Nutritionist” from the menu bar