Friday, March 8, 2013

Does Your Pet Like to Eat? - Pet Nutrition Topics

All Creatures continues to offer discounts on Pet Dental services through March 31st, but March is also National Pet Nutrition Month so we wanted address this topic, too.  Nutrition affects the way our pet’s grow and age. It is commonly a hot topic issue with pet owners and many feel strongly about what they feed their pets.  Here are some of the topics that come up often in pet food discussions, whether in person or online.
Ingredients are always the most scrutinized aspect of pet food, but some ingredient terms are not understood like the word meal.  For example, a pet food with lamb means that whole ingredient includes all  moisture content (about 80% water). A dry food listing lamb as the first ingredient may not contain much lamb because the water has been removed. By comparison, lamb meal is fresh lamb dehydrated prior to weighing, resulting in 7 times more lamb used. In chicken meal, there is 5 times more poultry used than in chicken with the moisture content.
Have you ever noticed the AAFCO statement on your bag? AAFCO or Association of American Feed Control Officials have 2 standards pet foods must meet to receive the label; the food must meet a nutrient profile (labeled as formulated) or by passing a feeding trial. Formulated food is analyzed in a laboratory and compared to minimum nutritional values established by AAFCO.  Feeding trials mean the finished product has been fed to dogs or cats over the course of 26 weeks to verify nutritional claims. Feeding trials are expensive for pet food companies, so not many brands conduct them.
Life Stages
Another AAFCO protocol is life stages.  Most pet food has an AAFCO statement on the bag that will list a life stage like adult, puppy/growth or all life stages.  All life stages means the food has been formulated to be nutritious enough for puppies all the way to senior pets. However, puppies need more nutrition than adults or seniors since their bodies are growing, so all life stages may be more nutrients than your adult or senior pet needs. Always try to get food that is appropriately formulated for your pet.
Food Allergies
Food allergy myths are rampant. One is that dogs and cats are most allergic to corn.  In fact, corn is highly digestible when ground. It’s the outer shell layer of the corn that is not digestible, even by people. The most common food allergens for dogs are: beef, dairy, and wheat. These three ingredients account for 68% of canine food allergies. The most common food allergens in cats are: beef, dairy, and fish. These three ingredients account for 80% of feline food allergies.
Common Terms
Another confusion for consumers are classification or descriptive terms used on pet food bags.
Some pet food manufacturers use terms to describe their foods, some of which are legally defined and others which are purely marketing terminology without any valid legal definition.
Legally defined pet food terms:
Natural - According to AAFCO – the term “natural” requires a pet food to consist of only natural ingredients without chemical alterations. 
Organic - According to the USDA – the term “Organic’ may only be applied to pet food labels that follow USDA rules. Look for the organic seal.
Marketing terms:
Human Grade - Claims that a product contains or is made from ingredients that are “human grade”, “human quality”, “people foods”, “ingredients you (the purchaser) would eat”, are false and misleading according to AAFCO. (Association of American Feed Control Officials (March 2004) Section IV – Pet Food Label Claims – Page 66 Section E)
Holistic - There is no legal definition of this term under laws devoted to pet foods. Any manufacturer can make claims of “holistic” in literature and brochures regardless of ingredients chosen.
All Creatures Veterinary Center 2525 E Hebron Pkwy., Carrollton, Texas 75010 972-307-7400;

No comments:

Post a Comment