Just as nutrition is important for humans, a pet’s diet determines his or her health and well-being. Many owners take the time to read the ingredient list on pet food packaging, considering this a critical factor in selecting their pet’s food. Unfortunately, the ingredient list is mostly useless in that it provides only the ingredients without giving the most vital element: the quality of the ingredients. In most cases, the ingredient list is simply a marketing ploy, convincing pet owners that the blueberries and sweet potatoes add nutritional value.
With so many pet food options, it can be overwhelming for owners to separate the quality pet food from the ones marketed as such. That is why conscientious owners must talk with their pet’s veterinarian to aid in this process. Determining the proper diet for one’s pet is more than merely the ingredients; consideration must be given to the pet’s current life stage, body condition, activity level, and medical conditions if present.
Nevertheless, savvy pet owners can do some research by determining the company’s quality and nutritional expertise in making the food. However, there is a wide range of variables at play. Pet foods with the best quality are not necessarily the most expensive, nor do they have the best marketing. Unfortunately, the critical information needed cannot always be found on the packaging label; pet owners will have to do a little digging. While not all pet food is created equal, there are factors to help distinguish the good from the bad.
Does the company have a full-time qualified nutritionist?
The person formulating the food should have a Ph.D. in animal nutrition or be board certified by either the American College of Veterinarian Nutrition or the European College of Veterinarian Comparative Nutrition.
Does the manufacturer own the plant where the food is made?
Strict quality control measures are necessary to guarantee safe, consistent, and nutritious food is processed. A statement on the label does not make it true. Despite studies showing nutritional deficiencies, many pet foods claim on their label to be complete and balanced nutrition, and these foods would not have met the requirements on this list. Quality control measures include:
- Certification of procedures — Global Food Safety Initiative, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or American Feeding Industry Association
- Testing ingredients and end products for nutrition, pathogens, and aflatoxins
- Conducting a materials risk assessment and supplier audits
Can the manufacturer provide nutrient and caloric information?
The company should be able to issue the amount of sodium, protein, or calcium, for example. This information should be available as not only minimums or maximums but as an average and on an energy basis (for example, grams per 100 kilocalories or grams per 1,000 kilocalories). The manufacturer should also offer the number of calories for any of their foods upon any requested weight or volume (for instance, per can, per cup, or per kilogram).
If a manufacturer cannot give you the answers to these questions, this should be a warning. Without proper nutrition, pets can develop health issues such as allergies, decreased energy levels, and stunted growth. Because of fillers, pets will also consume more of the low-quality foods than they would with high-quality options. A little investigative digging can help you make an objective decision but so can speaking with your pet’s veterinarian.
Why Choose Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital?
Proper nutrition is the core of any healthy lifestyle plan for a pet. When you visit our location for your pet care, you and your pet will be treated like family! Contact Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital to get started in the right direction or schedule your pet’s nutrition appointment today. Your beloved pet’s health is important to us.