In your quest to find the best food for your pet, are you more confused? Have you discovered the label on your pet’s food is at times vague? Are you aware the ingredients listed may vary because food manufacturers have a leeway of time before they are required to change the label?
Your pet’s food is the foundation of their health. Yet, food and quality ingredients are an increasingly controversial health care issue. Unfortunately until the regulatory agencies update their labeling requirements the burden is on you to be informed. Here are a few tips to think of while comparing ingredients.
The biggest difference between grocery store brands and premium natural brands are the sourcing and grades of ingredients. Yet, this often isn’t as obvious as it would appear. For instance in a premium, the meat protein source should be listed as the first ingredient, or listed in two of the first three ingredients. Still this isn’t a guarantee that the food in high in quality meat protein. What about meat versus meat by-product? In simple terms, there are three basic food classifications of meat sources for pet foods as defined by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials): meat, meat meal, and meat by-products. Is one better that the other? That depends on our pet’s needs and requirements, and the quality of ingredients.
Herein lies the issue. Quality is instituted by the manufacturer, and unfortunately, regulatory agencies do not permit ingredient differentiation on labels. Some foods that list meat as the first ingredient may also have corn, corn gluten meal, wheat and rice as the next ingredients, which taken together outweigh the meat. Other foods made with a defined meat meal when balanced with quality grains can be more nutritious than those made with whole meat.
The quality of grains and fiber are the next distinction in identifying premium foods. Premium foods should offer whole grains, such as whole wheat, rice and oatmeal, and quality fiber that comes from the internal portion of plants. Fiber from seed hulls often used in less expensive foods, have microscopic edges which can cause intestinal distress. A balance of animal fats and proper vegetable oils, along with vitamins, minerals, as well as essential amino acids and micronutrients round out a premium pet food.
As with any product, there are quality foods and inferior foods. Compare labels, read up on AAFCO guidelines to understand the definitions of protein sources, and speak with manufacturers. Natural pet food companies that go above and beyond AAFCO standards are very happy to explain the differences.
© Terri Grow
The biggest difference between grocery store brands and premium natural brands are the sourcing and grades of ingredients.