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Lifestyle

November 15, 2013

Vet Connection: How to choose a good pet food

(Continued)

4. What kind of quality-assurance testing is done on the food?

We recommend only those brands that meet the most rigorous quality standards. The companies we are impressed with operate their own on-site, in-house labs. In the best plants, samples are taken before the ingredients are even received, checking for toxins and contaminants, thus keeping the food safe for your pet. In-line testing makes sure that the food is meeting formulation standards at every step of the manufacturing process. After the food is made and packaged, storage testing ensures that the product meets all of your pet’s requirements the day you buy it, as it did when it was made.

5. What is below salt on the ingredient list?

In pet food, ingredients are listed in order of weight. Salt (NaCl or sodium chloride) is typically 1 percent of a pet food diet. Anything lower than salt on the ingredient list makes up less than 1 percent of diet. If you see things that you recognize like blueberries, carrots, acacia root, etc., ask if there is a nutritional benefit of blueberries at less than 1 percent of diet? If not, why is that company putting such a small amount in but making big claims about it on the front of the bag. Ask yourself, what are the ethics of that company? Which do they value more highly: marketing or science?

6. Does the food claim “natural, human-grade or holistic”?

These three terms are marketing terms that have no definition in pet food. No pet food can be 100 percent natural. Thiamine, for example, is an important supplement, as it is hard to meet AAFCO’s requirements from natural sources. The thiamine supply is a synthesized vitamin just like that found in human multivitamins. The term human-grade is not an accepted or defined or legal term on pet food labels. Holistic is a term that has a lot of inferred meanings but also is not defined. If the terms are undefined, a statement using these terms by one company can mean something very different when used by another company. What are pet foods companies claiming and what are they really telling you when they use these labels? We think it says that they put marketing ahead of science and nutrition.

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