Food For Your Pet
Take a look at a few tips on how to choose high-quality food for your furry friend.
Recommended Food Brands
American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Statements
The AAFCO regulates nutritional adequacy statements. Every pet food will have one of the following statements (in order of highest to lowest quality):
- Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [food] provider complete and balanced nutrition for [life stage]. This is the highest quality food.
- [Food] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Food Nutrient Profiles for [life stage]. This is the next level of quality.
- [Food] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [life stage] and is comparable in nutritional adequacy to a product that has been substantiated using AAFCO feeding tests. Because of the AAFCO “family member” rule, products that are nutritionally like other products tested under the “feeding test” method do not need to be tested themselves. This product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only.
- No AAFCO statement.
Evaluating the Ingredient List and the Guaranteed Analysis
Ingredients are listed in order of weight, including their water content. This means that “meat,” which is about 75% water, may actually contribute less protein to food than the meat meal listed lower on the list because meat meal is only 10% water.
Guaranteed Analyses list only minimum or maximum percentages, so they’re not very helpful. Two foods with the same Guaranteed Analysis may have considerably different nutrient content.
Look Carefully at the Food Name (using fish as an example meat)
- Fish Cat Food must contain at least 95% fish (or 70% if water has been added).
- Fish and Chicken Cat Food must contain 95% total between the two types of meat.
- Fish and Rice Cat Food must still contain 95% lamb since it’s the only meat listed.
- Lamb Dinner/Formula/Recipe must contain at least 25% lamb (10% with added water). It could contain more of another meat type (such as chicken) than fish. Fish and Rice Dinner does include the rice in the 25% minimum.
- Cat Dinner with Fish must contain at least 3% fish.
- Cat Food with Fish Flavor only needs to contain enough fish for a cat to detect.
Use Correct Diet For Size & Life Stage
Kittens need more concentrated nutrition than adult pets do, so it’s preferable not to buy food “for all life stages”.
Pet obesity is one of the top two diseases veterinarians see in patients. The disease can start when feeding kittens too much. Over-feeding kittens can lead to orthopedic, behavioral and gastrointestinal problems. Please consider referencing this feeding calculator for your pet.
Your veterinarian can give you the ideal weight for your kitten and how to adjust the volume as it grows. A rough guideline is 1 cup of dry food per 20 pounds of body weight for most cat foods manufactured in the U.S. The pet nutrition calculator should reflect this estimate. Individual variation can occur. Consulting your veterinarian should always be your best source of information.
Marketing Buzz Words
“Organic,” “premium,” “holistic,” “sensitive,” “gourmet”: none of these words have a legal definition in pet foods. Extra-label advertising is protected free-speech in the US, even if it is misleading.
Raw & Homemade Diets
The FDA and AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) advise against raw/dehydrated non-sterilized foods because of potential health risks (for both the pet and owners). Homemade diets are typically not nutritionally adequate, unless formulated by a veterinary nutritionist (for example, BalanceIT nutritional counseling: www.balanceit.com)
No Grain-Free Products
Grain-free pet food can cause canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, which is also very commonly referred to an as enlarged heart, is an ailment that causes a pet’s heart to grow and struggle to pump blood effectively. Dilated cardiomyopathy is one of the main causes of chronic heart failure.