Decoding Pet Food Ingredients

Decoding Pet Food Ingredients

In the world of commercial pet food, products are often not what they seem. While pet food and treats may be labeled “premium”, “gourmet” or “organic”, they may not actually be so nutritious. According to the FDA, “premium” and “gourmet” labeled pet foods are not held to any higher standard than other foods and there are no regulations regarding the labeling of pet foods as “organic”.

In the world of commercial pet food, products are often not what they seem. While pet food and treats may be labeled “premium”, “gourmet” or “organic”, they may not actually be so nutritious. According to the FDA, “premium” and “gourmet” labeled pet foods are not held to any higher standard than other foods and there are no regulations regarding the labeling of pet foods as “organic”.

So, in order to know how healthy a pet food actually is and to help you and your pet help your pet "Feed Better. Feel Healthier. Live Longer.", you have to not only read the ingredients label but also be able to differentiate high quality ingredients from cheap fillers. Here’s how you can get started:

Reading Pet Food Nutrition Labels

Pet food ingredients are required to be listed on the nutrition label in descending order by weight. So, analyzing the first few ingredients listed on the label is key to knowing exactly what’s in your pet food because those ingredients make up the majority of the food.

Protein Sources: Meat vs. meal

Look for foods that derive their proteins from real meats. Clearly defined meat meals (think “chicken meal” vs. “poultry meal”) are generally ok protein sources. However, soybean meal, corn meal and other non-meat meals should be avoided. Corn and soy are cheap, non-nutritious pet food fillers. Corn has no nutritional value for pets and the inclusion of “corn” on pet food labels can also refer to corn husks. Yikes! Soy is actually harmful to pets because it can negatively affect their hormones. And did you know that the mass majority of US soybean and corn crops include GMO’s? Just another reason to steer clear of these ingredients in your pet food… even if they’re US-sourced.

Know Your By-Products

Make sure you know the difference between nutrient-rich and harmful meat by-products. Pet foods labels that include non-specified meat by-products can often include “feathers, feet, hooves, hair, entrails – even tumors”. However, organ meats like heart, liver, lungs and kidneys (which are also considered animal by-products) are actually very nutritious.

Navigating pet food brands and ingredients can be daunting, but your pet's improved health is well worth the research!

Feel free to ask any remaining questions that you have in the comments below.

Sources:

FDA: Pet Food Labels

Healthy Pets

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