There are millions of cats and dogs serving as household companions across the United States. The Humane Society of the United States has actually estimated there are 170 million of our furry friends owned as pets and keeping us happy day in and day out. That’s a lot of mouths to feed – but have you ever thought about what is actually in your pet’s food?
There are special – and very interesting legal terms – and labeling requirements for pet food produced in the U.S and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) handles these requirements. Unfortunately, the requirements do not regulate the actual production of pet food but it’s a start to learning what is actually in – or is not in – your pet’s food. Here’s the quick and easy breakdown for you:
- “100 percent” or “all”- Neither of these can be used if the pet food contains more than one ingredient, outside of the water needed for processing or trace amounts of condiments and preservatives.
- “Dinner”- Food labeled as such must include an ingredient that constitutes at least 25 percent of the overall weight of the product.
- “With”- This term can be used as long as there’s at least 3 percent of the ingredient it’s referring to included in the overall mix.
- “Flavor”- As long as the food includes an ingredient that gives the overall product a distinct characteristic, this word is fair play. However, something labeled as “chicken flavor,” for example, might just include extract from poultry parts or artificial flavor, and not necessarily any actual chicken meat at all.
Clearly the best choice for your fluffy friend is ‘100 percent’ or ‘all’ – strive to find pet foods that honestly label their food and ingredients. One quick tip to finding such food is to not purchase your pets food at the same place you buy yours – a specialty pet food supply store will have a larger, healthier selection as well as knowledgeable staff to help you make an informed decision.