In light of all of the pet food recalls in the last few months, I thought this would be a good time to write a blog that would help you learn what to look for when buying food for your pets.
After all, we all want to be able to spoil our fur babies but keep them safe and healthy.
Tip #1 The Label
What to look for on the label? There is SO much stuff on those labels! We know how to read labels on people food, but what about pet food? The important thing to look for is the acronym AAFCO, which stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials, where you can also find a list of ingredients to help you understand exactly what's in your pet's food.
There are specifically 2 statements you need to know that include AAFCO, and one of the two will be found on dog food. I recommend clients to stay away from any product(s) that do not contain either of these statements. And I mean far away. Far, FAR away! The statements you want to look for are:
- Feeding Trials Using AAFCO Standards
- Formulated To Meet AAFCO Standards
These mean 2 totally different things. Stick with me here…
If you had to choose a product that has one of these statements on the label, choose the one that has "FEEDING trials using AAFCO standards". This is a higher quality diet and indicated that the company producing the diet actually fed the diet to pets and verified that good absorption took place and animals did not get sick. In other words, good choice!
"FORMULATED to meet AAFCO standards" means just that. The diet is just a formula of protein, carbs, etc. that meets AAFCO recommendations for whichever life stage the diet is made for. This does not mean it is safe, nor easily absorbed, and, unfortunately, does not really indicate quality (or safe) ingredients. So basically, bad idea.
Tip #2 Ask Questions
You've invested a lot in your pet, and (s)he is a member of your family (who also trusts you will care for her/him). So just as you educate yourself on the foods you feed your 2-legged family members, so you should for the four-legged ones. Pick up the phone and call or visit the websites of pet food companies to see just how legit and high quality they are, and ask at least these two questions:
- Do they have a board-certified Veterinary Nutritionist on staff? Or do they consult with one?
- Do they do feeding trials to determine the safety and absorbability of their diet? (Also remember the tip above for AAFCO)
It continues to amaze me (and it will you!) how many fail to answer "yes" to these questions!
I choose and recommend, high-quality commercial dog food that has the statement "Feeding Trials using AAFCO standards" because I know they have done numerous tests on the diet before it gets to my dogs' mouth. I know it is safe and without contamination! In other words, I know my pets' will digest it which means they will get their vitamins and minerals, protein, etc. - it won't just pass through them or harm them. Keep in mind these standards also apply to treats!
Here's a list of the most recent recalls from the American Veterinary Medical Association. And remember, the big take away is buying high-quality products that have the nutritional label "Feeding trials using AAFCO standards". Anything else is substandard - even some of those pricier, gourmet, or "organic" foods. Price does not necessarily equal safe or quality.