Taking a trip down the pet food aisle can be very overwhelming for any pet owner. With so many options, how can you ensure you are picking the right food for your pet? Here are a few tips to help you make an educated decision for your pet’s nutritional needs:
The Association of American Feed Control Officials regulates the sale and distribution of pet food and drug remedies. Every pet food label must have an AAFCO statement. This statement will indicate if the diet is complete and balanced, a snack or treat, which life stage it is appropriate for and if the diet was substantiated by a formula or feeding trial.
Pet owners should choose a diet that is complete and balanced, appropriate for the life stage of your pet and based on a feeding trial. A feeding trial indicates a study was performed by the pet food company to ensure the diet provides adequate nutrition.
Avoid pet foods that are meant for all life stages. Similar to people, pet’s nutritional requirements change with age. Puppies and kittens should be on puppy/kitten food up until one year of age. Senior pets should be transitioned to a senior pet food near seven years of age.
Choose a pet food brand that has a veterinarian on staff. During veterinary school, veterinarians receive training in animal nutrition. By hiring a veterinarian, a pet food company is demonstrating a dedication to the health of your pet. Do not hesitate to call a pet food company and ask if they have veterinarians on staff. Contact information for a pet food company can be found on the label.
If you elect to feed your pet a homemade diet, please consult with your veterinarian to ensure you are preparing a complete and balanced diet that will meet your pet’s nutritional needs.