"Until we have loved an animal, a part of our soul remains un-awakened." - Anatole France
How to Read Pet Food Labels
With so many brands and varieties of pet foods available it is often difficult to decide which food is the best for your pet.
We have a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a pet food; the most important is: check the AAFCO Statement!
You can usually find this just underneath the nutritional facts on the package as a small blurb.
Every pet food has one of these statements, but it is important to understand the difference between the key words being used. Here is an example of one of these statements:
What is AAFCO?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) was formed in 1909 to establish a framework for uniform regulation of the feed industry. Although not a government agency, AAFCO operates within the guidelines of U.S. federal and state legislation including laws administered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Look at type of AAFCO statement
- Find the life stage for which the food is recommended
There are 3 different AAFCO statements
Laboratory analysis of finished product is compared with nutritional values from a similar product fed to dogs and cats according to AAFCO protocols.
"ABC Dog (Cat) Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for (appropriate life stage) and is comparable in nutritional adequacy to a product which has been substantiated using AAFCO feeding tests."
What this means
All they have done here is look at another pet food's nutritional values that was accepted by AAFCO and mimicked those values in their own food.
The down side of this type of food is that you don't know which food they mimicked and very often it will be a low quality brand.
Possible "life stage" on the AAFCO statement
Note: Stay away from a pet food that claims it is for "all life stages" !
To claim a food is good for a certain life stage means meeting the minimum nutritional values according to each life stage. For instance, puppies will require more nutrients for growth, while adult dogs will need more of a maintenance overall. The minimum nutritional value has been met for the adult life stage because the nutritional value in the food will be much higher due to the puppy life stage. Each value will be increased until all values meet the minimum of each life stage.
→ Essentially, an "all life stages" pet food is geared only
towards puppies, nothing else.
Each life stage has its own protocol. Life stages are the same for both dogs and cats and are defined as:
Check out the AAFCO website here.