Choosing a diet for your pet can seem like a simple task. However, we all want to feed our pet the best option available. Pet food companies often play on our emotions when it comes to choosing their brand. Millions of dollars are often spent on advertising to get us to choose their food, whether it is nutritionally balanced or not. We are going to provide some great steps on choosing nutritionally balanced food.
Major food companies want us to choose a food based on the ingredients list. This will not show us the quality of the food or the nutritional composition of the diet. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has a published list of recommendations.
What can we actually find on our pet’s food label? The most important thing that will be listed is a nutritional adequacy statement. This statement will tell us if the food is complete, balanced, and what life stage it should be fed to. It can also tell us if the food is ‘balanced’ based on formulation or feeding trials. This is required to be put on a label in the US and Canada and something we should look for right away.
Unfortunately there are many things missing from our pet’s food label that we should be asking. The only way to gain this information is to contact the manufacturer. Here’s the questions to ask:
- Does this manufacturer have a full time, qualified, nutritionist employed?
- Is the nutritionist the one formulating the diets?
- Where is this food being made?
- What quality control measures are being taken to make sure our pet’s food has quality ingredients, the nutritional value they are promising, and consistency between each bag?
- Was there any research that went into creating this food?
The Pet Nutrition Alliance created a ‘Dare to Ask’ program where they contacted major food brands and asked these 3 questions:
- Do you employ or utilize a nutrition expert to formulate your diets in your company?
- These companies were then asked if they own all, some, or none of their manufacturing plants.
- Randomly choose a nutrient on the label and were asked for the nutritional level based on a 1000kcal diet.
Here is the link to see these major food companies replies to these questions:
Often our clients ask us, “what do you recommend?”. Below are three brands we love, and why we feed them to our pets:
Hills Science Diet – This brand has a large amount of research put into their food! They employ multiple, full-time, nutritionists to make sure their food is balanced. In our clinic they often provide a ‘money back guarantee’. If your pet won’t eat the diet, no problem, they will give your money back. It’s not about their income, it’s about your pet.
Purina – Purina has a food for every budget which is what makes this company so great. They provide veterinary and regular diets. Plus, they own all of their own manufacturing plants. Purina also produces food for production animals.
Royal Canin – This company has great food that is created to your pet’s breed! They also make a variety of prescription diets. They own all of their manufacturing plants and have full-time nutrionists.