This is one important topic for your beloved furry best friends: Understanding Pet Food Labels!
So, how to read pet food labels? You probably know by now that you want the very first ingredient to be meat…meaning that is the largest portion ingredient in their food. After that you want to make sure there is no corn, wheat, or soy added…likely culprits for allergies. And definitely you don’t want any by-products added…these are normally bits of beaks, feet, or bones or all combined.
However, you do want some good wholesome veggies and fruits for fiber and nutrients as well as a starch source like brown rice or potatoes. In working in the pet food industry I did come in contact with a few pet masters who found their animals allergic to potatoes and fewer still allergic to peas. A good indicator of allergic reactions that I have heard of from pet masters are licking paws and other skin problems.
The Pet Food Institute is a good place to help you in deciphering pet food ingredient info. Most pet foods do now add some form of Vitamin E…a great antioxidant for your dogs and cats. Check out the info on Vitamin E from the Pet Food Institute (PFI): “Vitamin E is identified as an essential nutrient for both dogs an cats and is provided in complete and balanced pet food. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it is stored in the body’s fatty tissue and liver, and supports immune function and the ability of the body to form red blood cells. Significantly, Vitamin E is also a major antioxidant that supports pet health.”.. (Pet Food Institute).
As noted, the Pet Food Institute will explain how to read pet food labels so you can better understand the contents.
Some other good information to note is about AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFC0). This is the organization responsible for: “…The most important aspect of feed regulation is to provide protection for the consumer as well as the regulated industry. A major function of feed regulations is to safeguard the health of man and animals.”
So it is wise to note the AAFCO seal on your pet food as well as FDA regulations or even exceeding these regulations for your pet’s safety.
With all the pet food recalls in recent years (FDA.GOV/animal-veterinary/safety-) you want to check out where your pet food ingredients originate…the USA is great, local, and regulated. Do check out the manufacturer/brand information on their web site to find these details and satisfy your curiosity for the finest food for your furry best friends…including their treats.
From the information I have gathered oven-baked retains the most flavor and nutrients. If you decide to use raw food, do be very careful of how long you keep it and how you store it.
Reading labels is not a lot of fun but it is definitely worth your while to find a great food to keep your dogs and cats healthy, active, and alert…and with you as long as possible.
For more good information for treats see “More Nutritious Pet Treats?”.
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