As a pet owner you always have to focus on finding the best food for your beloved companion. But the reality is, ensuring perfect nutrition isn’t easy. Add to that the massive marketing machines behind the global pet food industry and you can see why well meaning pet owners are confused and overwhelmed.
What should you consider when you purchase pet food?
Just as you would select food for yourself or your family, the first step is to look past the pretty packaging and focus on the nutrients and ingredients. Whilst not as heavily regulated as the human food industry, pet food manufacturers still have to comply with some rules, particularly around telling the truth and misleading conduct. So if the nutritional profile or the ingredient listing on your current pet food packaging looks a bit tricky, chances are this pet food probably in the ‘grey area’ of compliance.
The nutritional requirements of Dogs and Cats is well researched, which has led to the development of important international standards such as NRC, FEDIAF or AAFCO which establish certain nutritional requirements as well as rules about the types of words and ‘marketing’ that is acceptable. Two key words that govern the industry are “Complete and Balanced”, this means only pet foods that’s provide all the necessary nutrients can make this claim. Essentially, if these words are not prominently displayed on the packaging, or have disclaimers (eg: by nature, with other sources) then the food probably isn’t the best choice for you pet. A simple way to look at it is, a food is either Complete and Balanced, or it isn’t, and if a product is compliant a manufacturer will make sure its written clearly on the label.
Are all pet foods nutritionally balanced?
Unfortunately NO. You will see pretty labels and lots of marketing to showcase the great value behind certain products. Even words like Natural, Organic, All-in-One could still be nutritionally deficient products. Just because a package looks great, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will provide your pet with the results you expect. It does take some time, but the best thing that you can do is to study every product as you try to make an informed decision.
You want to choose Complete & Balanced food that showcase all the nutrients and ingredients in that product. If the list of ingredients contains things you can’t read, or uses words like contains X and/or Y and/or Z, then it makes it difficult to know exactly what you are getting and to have any real confidence that your dog is nutritionally sufficient. A good pet food maker who generally cares about pets has nothing to hide, so will be very forthcoming in clearly labeling their products and which international standards each recipe complies with.
The Hidden Benefit
Knowledge is its own treat. When you know what is in the food, it gives you a wonderful confidence to be able to give your dog appropriate treats because you know all the nutrients they need to thrive are being fulfilled by their primary food source (as always, keep an eye on the amount of treats being fed to avoid over feeding).
Take your time when picking the best pet food. You want to focus on finding a pet food which has the best nutrients for your pet and which also falls within your budget too. Once you have found a great food that your dog enjoys, the process is easy and you know your doing the best you can for your dog!