Can An Real Dog and Cat Food Label Please Stand Up?
Perhaps you might be able to empathize with and relate to the modern pet owner. Despite her many notable talents she can’t quite figure out how to properly read a dog and cat food label. Don’t be embarrassed about it. We’ve also been there before, scratching our heads in the pet food aisle.
Alright, we know that a pet food label is pretty similar to ones that we might find on the side of any cereal or cookie container in terms of its purpose, but why does it look so different? Food for human consumption will have a breakdown of daily values and calories based on serving sizes. Alternatively, pet food labels are broken into four main parts: the ingredient list, the guaranteed analysis, an statement by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), and suggested serving sizes.
Where’s the Beef? (And Taurine)
Similar to the ingredient list on food for humans, the ingredient panel on a pet food label catalogs the components of the pet food. These will appear in order of amounts from greatest to smallest. Pet owners should pay special attention in this area when determining what types of proteins, fibers, fats, and other nutrients are in the food. This is especially true if their fur babies have special dietary restrictions and allergies.
PetMio Chief Veterinarian Dr. Arlianne Velez recommends that pet owners speak with their pets’ veterinarians for specifics about which ingredients they should look for – and avoid. However, she says that when it comes to the felines in our lives, taurine is a must. “Taurine is an amino acids that cats need but can’t produce themselves. A deficiency in this amino acid can lead to digestive issues and heart problems if left unaddressed,” says Velez.
So, I‘m Getting A Guarantee?
According to the FDA, pet owners are, to an extent getting a guarantee on the dog or cat food label. However, this is in regard to the minimum or maximum percentages of proteins, fats, fiber and moisture in pet food. You might also find percentages for ash (typically processed bone and other indigestible content), calcium, sodium and taurine.
What (or who) is the AAFCO?
AAFCO stands for The Association of American Feed Control Officials. They are “a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.” (AAFCO) Basically, they ensure that your companions’ food is at least meeting the minimum standards of nutrition.
Granted, “minimum” may not add a great deal of reassurance that your pet’s food is the best on the market. You can, however, take comfort in the fact that according to AAFCO, your sidekick is at least getting the nutrition necessary to sustain life. But, it can be argued that a dog or cat should be treated above minimums. PetMio supports this idea, and this is one thing out of many a pet parent could look for. See below an example of an AAFCO statement:
Pet owners can use general feeding guidelines on the dog and cat food label to figure out an estimate of what their precious pooches and furballs should be eating on a given day.
However, the needs of each animal is different and may vary slightly from what is generally recommended, so Dr. Velez urges pet owners not to view these suggestions as gospel. The best way to make sure your pet’s needs align with specifications on their food is to discuss options with your pet’s veterinarian. “After all, they’re the ones that are examining these pets. They are more likely to know not just about quality, but also if the ingredients make sense to that specific dog or cat,” she says.
The Not-So-Shameless Plug
Wading through the ins and outs, and do’s and don’ts of pet care can become overwhelming at times. We’re here to support you by addressing your concerns and by meeting your pet’s’ needs. To ensure that you’re caught up on the latest blogs, expert advice and product launches, join us by subscribing below.