Finding the finest food for your pet is critical to his or her health and lifespan, but interpreting pet food labels may be difficult. Begin by identifying common elements in pet food. Then, pay attention to the nutritional analysis to see if the food contains the proper nutrients for your pet. Remember that pet food is sold to customers, so investigate marketing claims. You’ll soon feel confident in making an informed pet food choice!
Reading the Ingredient List
Pay special attention to the first three components specified.
- This is due to the fact that pet food labels must list the ingredients by weight, beginning with the ingredient that makes up the majority of the pet food. The ingredients are then listed in decreasing weight order. Meat, poultry, or meals should be among the first components specified in nutritious pet food.
- Because cats and dogs are carnivores, the first three ingredients should be meat or meat meals, such as poultry, lamb, beef, or fish.
For beef or poultry, read the label.
- Poultry refers to the presence of chicken or turkey flesh, skin, and bone in pet food. The muscles, skin, and fat of cattle, pigs, sheep, or goats are considered meat. Meat, unlike poultry, does not include bones.
- Because meat is frequently made up of a variety of animal sources, the label normally does not specify which types of meat are in the product.
- What Did You Know? Meat or poultry meals may be listed. This implies that the meat or poultry was ground and heated to kill bacteria. These pet diets can be equally as nutritious as those containing only meat or poultry.
Look for byproducts of beef or poultry.
- Byproducts of meat and poultry are frequently composed of internal organs, bones, and muscles that are not normally consumed by humans. Heads, lungs, udders, and feet are examples.
- Meat and poultry by-products can be just as healthy for pets as meat or poultry, thus it’s appropriate to feed these items in pet food.
Discover more about the other ingredients on the list.
- Ingredients like corn, barley, and dried vegetable pulp help to add fibre and keep the pet food together.
- Animal or vegetable fat may be used to add energy and flavour. Vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and selenium are also nutritional elements.
- Additives containing amino acids such as DL-methionine, L-lysine, DL-tryptophan, taurine, and DL-arginine
Examine the ingredients for flavours, thickeners, and preservatives.
- Ingredients that aren’t utilised in great quantities can be found near the end of the ingredient list.
- Colours, chemical preservatives such as ascorbic and benzoic acid, and thickeners such as carrageenan, agar-agar, and guar gum are examples of these. Flavours can be either natural or artificial.
- Choose items that are naturally flavoured with herbs such as ginger, chamomile, fennel, and rosemary for the healthiest dog food. Avoid goods with artificial flavours, such as chicken or beef flavour.
Assessing Nutrition Information
Find the guaranteed examination.
- Pet food makers are obligated to inform consumers of the minimum quantity of protein and fat, as well as the maximum amount of fibre and moisture, in their products. This information should be found alongside the components list. It is also known as the proximal analysis.
- Cat food manufacturers must also indicate the maximum percentages of ash, taurine, and magnesium.
Examine the certified analysis of wet and dry pet food.
- Unfortunately, there is no direct comparison of protein, fat, or fibre in a wet versus dry diet. This is due to the moisture skewing the percentages. To compare, divide the wet food % by the dry food percentage.
- For dry food, for example, state the protein and moisture percentages. The moisture percentage is then subtracted from 100. To calculate the adjusted protein level, divide the protein by this result and multiply the result by 100.
- Example of Wet Food Protein:
- 8.5 percent minimum crude protein
- Maximum moisture content: 78%
- 100-78 = 22 dry matter
- Protein level adjusted: 8.5/22 x 100 = 38.6 percent
Determine the number of calories in the pet food.
- Inquire with your veterinarian about how many calories (also known as kilocalories) your pet should consume every day. This will make it easier to establish whether pet food contains the appropriate number of calories. Look for a calorie declaration that says calorie content on the bag. Because canned food contains more moisture than dry food, it contains fewer calories per kilogramme.
- The number of calories your pet needs every day is determined by its age, weight, activity level, and overall health. This is why it’s critical to consult with your veterinarian about a personalised calorie recommendation.
Consider your pet’s dietary requirements.
- Once you’ve determined how much protein, fat, and fibre are in the meal, you may choose the best pet food for your pet. If you’re feeding a dog who is underweight, consider pet food with more calories that is also higher in fat and carbohydrates.
- Consult your veterinarian about the nutritional percentages to look for in pet food. A healthy typical dog, for example, may require 30 to 35 percent protein, 35 to 45 percent fat, and 10 to 15 percent carbohydrates.
Decoding Common Terms and Claims
Investigate marketing claims.
- Because most marketing claims aren’t supported by official definitions or held to regulatory requirements, these could simply be catchy advertising words. For example, “natural” could suggest that no artificial colours or tastes have been used, but because this word is unregulated, no one knows for sure. Other terms to avoid are “premium,” “wholesome,” and “gourmet.”
- If a product is branded “organic,” look for the actual USDA seal of approval on the bag.
Keep in mind that nutrition is more essential than marketing claims.
- According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), labelling and marketing information are intended to appeal to customers. This means that pet foods may follow the latest food trend, making consumers more likely to purchase them even if the product is not all that useful to your pet.
- Instead of focusing on marketing and labels, learn about pet food nutrition.
Look for the sentence on nutrition sufficiency.
- This is one of the most significant components of a pet food label since it reveals that the pet food meets all of the nutritional requirements of the pet for which it is intended. The statement should appear near the diet’s assured analysis.
- “(Name of product) is prepared to fulfil the nutritional values set by the AAFCO or National Research Council (NRC) food nutrient profiles,” for example.
Understand the distinction between low-calorie and low-fat pet foods.
- A pet food labelled “light” or “low-calorie” must contain significantly fewer calories than comparable pet food. If you read the words “lean” or “low-fat” on a label, the pet food must be below a certain fat content standard set by the AAFCO.
- A low-calorie dog food, for example, cannot have more than 3,100 kilocalories per kilogramme if it is designated “light.”
- What Did You Know? If a product bears “less” or “reduced” fat or calorie claims, it suggests it contains less than another product. The label should disclose the calories or fat content of both goods so that you can compare them.