How to Read Pet Food Labels

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by Natures Logic

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More and more pet parents are becoming aware of just how important their four-legged companion’s diet and nutrition is to maintaining their health and happiness. With so many different choices for pet food that exist today, it is difficult to know which to choose. In order to maintain your pet’s health and well-being, is important to know precisely what you’re feeding your pet. To a new pet owner, many labels appear to be filled with unfamiliar jargon – thus we’ve taken the time to break down a few key ingredients to look for – and which to avoid.

Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)

You’ll often see references to AAFCO when reviewing pet food labels. AAFCO is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies. While AAFCO has no regulatory authority, it does provide uniform and equitable laws, regulations, standards, definitions and enforcement policies for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds.1

3 Things to Look For On the Ingredient Label Your Pet’s Food

1. Ingredient order: What does it mean?
According to AAFCO, pet food ingredients are listed in descending order, by the weight of the initial components used.2 Dogs and cats are carnivores, therefore the first ingredient(s) should be a source of animal protein. Next, in the case of dry foods, you should see a carnivore-appropriate starch, followed by a variety of fruits and vegetables to provide essential vitamins and other nutrients.

2. How the protein is listed: Meat meal vs. fresh meat
It is easy to reason that one would want to turn over their bag of pet food and see a fresh meat source listed as the first ingredient, as that’s what we would want to eat. However, there is a drastic difference between protein meal and fresh meat in pet food. Fresh meat or poultry containing 50% to 60% water loses 90% of that water weight in the dryer during production, significantly altering the final amount of the fresh protein actually present. While it appears first in the list of ingredients, that is only because AAFCO allows listing of ingredients by weight of the product going in, not the final analysis after production. Using dried meal instead of fresh or frozen protein sources results in a higher final protein content in dry foods. In addition, the terms “meal” and “fresh meat” do not indicate anything about the actual quality of the product or from where it is sourced, so it is a good idea to ask manufacturers where they get their protein.

3. Hidden ingredients: What should I look out for?
There are a few common things to look for in pet food. First is the term “natural flavoring.” Most often, when a label lists the term natural flavoring, it is a hydrolyzed form of dried or liquid chicken liver. Hydrolyzed protein is one that’s been broken down into its component amino acids, either by boiling in a strong acid, or by using an enzyme. This chemical breakdown of the protein results in the formation of monosodium glutamate (MSG).2 Another thing to look for second is the presence of man-made minerals, proteinates, or amino acid complex minerals routinely added to most pet foods., The word proteinate or amino acid complex refers to a synthetically made mineral bound to a protein carrier. The protein carriers attached to these synthetic forms of minerals consist of hydrolyzed soy.

Watch for Misleading Terms on Pet Food Labels

There are some key terms you will find on pet food bags that don’t necessarily mean what you think. First and foremost is the term “All natural with added vitamins and minerals.” This statement and its many variations would lead you to believe that the food you are holding is a natural and healthy choice for your pet. However, in the definition of the word “natural,” AAFCO says it would be false and misleading to have anything synthetic in a product named or marketed as “natural.” An exception is made for diets that incorporate synthetic vitamins and minerals if the remaining ingredients meet the definition of natural and as long as a disclaimer is used to inform the consumer that the added vitamins and minerals are not natural, such as the statement above.

As loving pet-parents ourselves, we understand that you want to feed your pets only the very best. Nature’s Logic is committed to providing the highest quality and safest nutrition for the furry members of your family. We have created the first full-line kibble, canned, and raw frozen pet food in the world with no chemically-synthesized ingredients. Our pet foods are formulated the way a truly natural diet should be. We never use man-made vitamins, minerals, or amino acids. Nature’s Logic 100% natural pet foods are made primarily of meats and other high-quality protein sources, combined with carefully selected plant products to naturally provide the essential nutrition your pet needs to thrive. For more information on all our products – and to check out all of our ingredients – visit www.natureslogic.com

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