Selecting pet food is one of the most important decisions you will make in your pet’s life. The type of food will impact the health of your pet. When deciding what food to buy, there are a few guidelines that veterinarians recommend. This list of questions to ask your pet food company was compiled by Dr. Reed Stevens of Ellicott Animal Hospital in Buffalo. N.Y.
1. Is your pet doing well on the food?
At the end of the day, this is the most important question. Unless there is knowledge that a particular brand is known to have quality-control issues or a bad batch, we do not recommend changing brands of pet food.
2. Does the bag have an AAFCO statement?
While the American Association of Feed Control Officials standards are not perfect, it is currently the only national standard for commercially prepared pet food. You can find more info at www.petfood.aafco.org. AAFCO has three statements they will put on a bag:
“Animal feeding trials” — This tells you the food was fed to real dogs or cats and that they did well on it for six months as adult dogs or have grown well as puppies. This is AAFCO’s highest standard and is considered the “gold standard” that you want on your pet food.
“Formulated to meet” — This says that the formulation analysis of the food meets the AAFCO guidelines, but the food did not pass or was not put through feeding trials to real pets.
“Meant for intermittent or supplemental feeding” — This tells you that the diet is not complete and balanced. This should never be fed as a sole diet to a dog or cat.
3. Who owns the pet food plant?
There are only four or five companies that own their own pet food plants. The companies that do not own their plants are in the business of printing bags and bidding out who will make their formulation. We only recommend pet foods that are made in plants owned by the manufacturer. We have greater confidence in their sourcing of ingredients and their controls over the quality of the food.