We read the back of ingredient labels in the grocery store, but not always in the pet food aisle. Selecting a food for your pet can become a frustrating and confusing experience when looking at the label. What does all that information really mean? What is important and what is not? How do you know if you are choosing a quality food when they all claim to be “premium” quality? Here are a few key things you should focus on when choosing a diet for your pet.

1. AAFCO STATEMENT

The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement is one of the most important items on the food label. If you don’t see it on the food package, it could mean that it hasn’t been tested to meet nutritional guidelines. The last thing you want to do is feed a nutritionally deficient food to your pet. Look for this label.

2. INGREDIENTS LIST

The ingredients are listed in order of quantity by weight. You should look for a food that lists a specific quality meat in the first 2-3 ingredients, listed as poultry, fish, beef etc. The ingredients immediately following the meat source should include whole grains, vegetables, and/or fruits that are fairly easily recognizable. Finally, the end of the list often contains chemical-sounding ingredients. These generally are added vitamins and minerals, and/or preservatives.

Good ingredients:

  • Quality protein sources (type of meat source is specifically listed as beef, lamb, venison, salmon, etc.)
  • Named meat meals
  • Whole grains
  • Human Grade or natural/organic
  • Rosemary, Vitamin C or E as natural preservatives

Ingredients to avoid:

  • BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin & Propylene Glycol
  • Meat Meal
  • Meat By Products
  • Artificial Colors or flavors
  • Sugars/sweeteners
  • Corn or wheat as bulk fillers with no nutritional value

3. FEEDING GUIDELINES

Feeding guidelines provide a good starting point for pet parents, but may overestimate the needs of some pets, leading to weight gain. Therefore, pet parents may have to adjust the feeding guidelines on a case-by-case basis depending on factors such as age, weight, activity level, environment, and many other factors can influence food intake.

4. LIFE STAGE NUTRITION

Pets have different nutrient needs as they grow. Feeding a diet that is appropriate for a pet’s life stage, that is made from superior ingredients, and that provides balanced nutrition can go a long way towards keeping him strong and healthy.

 

Sources: Caringhandsvet.com, Vetlearn.com