Pet food bags are marketed to intrigue the customers. The manufacturers will bold words and use different fonts to catch your eye. They make the ingredients listed look good enough for humans to eat. Why would we not want to feed our pet food that is equal in value as our own food? Another marketing trick is putting pictures of fresh whole produce or protein on the bag. It not only looks appetizing to you the customer (let's face it your pet doesn't know there is a chicken breast on the bag) it also makes you think that is what's contained in the bag of food which can be misleading. Just because there is an apple shown does not mean it is a healthier choice over the bag that does not have an apple on the bag. With companies purposely trying to mislead you, how do you know which food is best for your pet?
Things to look for when buying your pet's food.
1. Look for the AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement This means that they have marketed this food for a specific life stage. An example of this statement would be, "Pet Food" provides complete and balanced nutrition for **Selected Life Stage** and is comparable to a product which has been substantiated using AAFCO feeding tests. **Life stages would be one of the following: gestation/lactation, growth (kitten/puppy), maintenance (adult or senior), or all life stages. A food that says for all life stages would be best for a growing animal instead of an adult because of the high calories. I suggest getting the appropriate food that fits with your pet's life stage. This will help prevent obesity or improper caloric intake. Different quantities and ratios of nutrients are needed for different life stages.
2. Look for key words If a specific protein like chicken, beef, or pork is listed in the name or title it must account for at least 95% of the product weight not including water. The other 5% will be vitamins and minerals. If the words dinner, entrée, or platter are in the name or title the protein listed must account for at least 25% of the product weight not including water. If you see "with" or "similar" in the name or title, for example chicken with rice would contain at least 3% chicken and 3% rice.
3. Check the first five ingredients Ingredients have to be listed in descending order according to weight. Meaning the first few ingredients weigh the most. What the companies do not disclose is what they do with the products after they weigh them. For example, if you see chicken as the first ingredient you might think this is a great food because it is full of chicken. That might not be the case. If the food companies choose to weigh a raw chicken breast it will be pretty heavy because it contains a large amount of water. If chicken is listed as the third ingredient the food companies might have weighed it cooked instead of raw. This would mean there could actually be more chicken added to the food that has cooked chicken versus raw. It is very difficult to read a list of ingredients so don't get too focused on this. I would also like to say that a good quality plant protein is better for your animals than a poor quality animal protein.
If you are ever questioning or uncertain if a bag of food is right for your pet, take a picture of the bag and ingredients list and email or text the clinic and I will gladly help you.