While the survey found that 60 percent of respondents said they always consider the label when making a pet food purchase, 34 percent of pet parents agreed that it is “virtually impossible to determine the quality of pet food ingredients simply by reading the information on the package or ingredient label.” It might surprise pet owners that what’s on the pet food container doesn’t necessarily tell them how nutritious the food is.
“Pet food labels aren’t always straightforward in terms of helping pet parents determine the quality of the ingredients and the nutrition found in a specific food,” says Dr. Ellen Lowery, director of U.S. Veterinary and Professional Affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “What is listed on the label is often different from what a pet parent imagines it to be, and it can be difficult to determine the true quality of the ingredients."
Here are some tips to help pet parents find the right food for their pets.
* Discuss your pet’s nutritional needs with your veterinarian
* Pay attention to the regulatory statement. If the pet food brand bag includes a statement containing the initials AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), you know that the food has been tested against this organization’s measures to contain at least the minimum nutrients required for that statement to be included on the packaging. This statement simply certifies that the product contains that nutritional element – it doesn’t certify that the element is healthy for your pet, or that it will help Fido or Fluffy live a healthier life.
* Know who makes the food. Many pet parents assume a brand makes the food it sells but this is often not the case. Pet parents should look for a “manufactured by” listing on the product to know if the brand made the food or is just selling it.
“I think it’s best to trust a company that makes its food under the watchful eyes of its own employees to make sure the food meets the company’s quality standards, rather than trusting the safety procedures of an unknown manufacturer,” Dr. Lowery says.
* Is there a phone number to call? Brand companies should value your feedback, especially when it comes to feeding a beloved pet. Look for a toll-free consumer phone number on the packaging that you can easily call if you have questions or need additional information.
Good food will keep your dog’s tail happily wagging and your cat content and purring. Use these tips to know what makes a premium, high-quality pet food, so you know that your furry companions are getting the best food you can give them.