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Mapleton, MN 56065

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Blog/Health Tips

How Do Different Pet Foods Measure Up?

How Do Different Pet Foods Measure Up?
Tim Klein, DVM
All Pets Medicine, Surgery, and Rehabilitation Clinic

Think the main determination of whether a food measures up is where “corn” shows up on the label? Maybe … or maybe not!

The whole area of “which food to buy” for our pets is very confusing! Your pets are our patients, and when that issue is brought up at All Pets Clinic, you deserve a science based answer vs. the latest internet search.

To help our clients compare foods in a more meaningful way than the label can offer, we have developed a 10 point set of questions with a composite score that takes into account the difficulty in comparing pet foods by looking at their label or what their price is. Our attempt is to compare based on the quality, safety, and trustworthiness of the food and the manufacturer.

Below are examples of two foods that many of our patients are being fed, and how they “measure up” using our evaluation. We are filling this out for many of the foods that we see our patients being fed, and have that available for our clients to look at.

So take a look at the two examples below … I know which one I would feed to my dog Casey!

Brand #1
Positive responses = 1/10

1. Does the AAFCO Statement match the claims on the front of the bag?

  • This bag’s AFFCO statement says it is an adult food, the front of the bag says it is a senior food.

2. Was the food actually fed to pets before being put on the shelf for you to buy?

  • AAFCO Statement indicates Formulation Method was used for this food = the company did no trials with pets, just calculated the amounts of each ingredient needed to meet the minimum for each nutrient on the label. Cannot tell how well those ingredients can actually be digested by pets.

Does the company confirm that it’s nutrition can be trusted, with Peer Reviewed Research

  • No, this company reported no Peer Reviewed Research
  • Peer Reviewed means their research that they want to publish is evaluated by nutritionists who do not work for the company. Some companies do research inside the company and may or may not be honest with what they write about it on the bag. Peer Reviewed research helps confirm the company’s credibility.

4. Can we tell by looking at the label whether good or bad ingredients were used to make the food? No, no pet food labels tell you if the ingredients used were high or low quality.

5. Does the company make at least 95% of their foods at plants that they own and can assure quality?

    • This company does not own its own facilities, and uses 3rd party plants.
    • Some companies make a lot of their foods at 3rd party plants, and rely on those plants’ quality control.

6. Does the company safety test all poultry ingredients for Salmonella and refuse any positives?

      • This company checks batches of the final product, but does not check ingredients.
      • Salmonella is the most common human health hazard from pet food, especially children and elderly. Checking ingredients is the best safety measure because it keeps Salmonella out of all parts of the food they sell.

7. Does the company utilize constant ingredient sourcing (uses same ingredients regardless of changes in ingredient pricing)?

      • This company would not comment on this.
      • Some companies use “least cost sourcing” (buy the cheapest ingredient – example might buy poultry product one week and beef product the next week because of changes in price). This means what is really in the bag changes constantly.

8. Does this company purchase ingredients from “rendering” companies?

      • No
      • Rendering companies pick up animals that die at the farm, usually within a few days of death, and then process them.

9. Does this company avoid purchasing ingredients from China (where the majority of recalled ingredients have originated from)? This company purchases ingredients from China.

10. Are the company’s research veterinary facilities inspected and approved by the American Animal Hospital Association? This company does not own any research facilities; it contracts with 3rd parties and relies on their quality standards for research animal health care.

 

Brand 2
Positive responses = 9/10

1. Does the AAFCO Statement match the claims on the front of the bag?

  • This bag’s AFFCO statement says it is an adult food, the front of the bag also says it is an adult food.

2. Was the food actually fed to pets before being put on the shelf for you to buy?

  • AAFCO Statement indicates Feeding Trial Method used = this is the “gold standard”. Means that before being sold in stores, feeding trials showed that pets being fed this food did not lose weight or develop abnormal blood test results. This gives credibility to the degree that the ingredients used can be digested by pets.

3. Does the company confirm that it’s nutrition can be trusted, with Peer Reviewed Research

  • Yes, this company has lots of Peer Reviewed Research
  • Peer Reviewed means their research is evaluated by nutritionists who do not work for the company. Some companies do research inside the company and may or may not be honest with what they write on the bag. Peer Reviewed research helps confirm the company’s credibility.

4. Can we tell by looking at the label whether good or bad ingredients were used to make the food? No, no pet food labels tell you if the ingredients used were high or low quality.

5. Does the company make at least 95% of their foods at plants that they own and can assure quality?

  • Yes, this company does, so they have control over quality standards.
  • Some companies make a lot of their foods at 3rd party plants, and rely on those plants’ quality control.

6. Does the company safety test all poultry ingredients for Salmonella and refuse any positives?

  • Yes, this company does.
  • Salmonella is the most common human health hazard from pet food, especially children and elderly. Checking ingredients is the best safety measure because it keeps Salmonella out of all parts of the food they sell.

7. Does the company utilize constant ingredient sourcing (uses same ingredients regardless of changes in ingredient pricing)?

  • Yes, this company uses constant ingredient sourcing, meaning they buy the same ingredients all the time regardless of cost (which increases the reliability of the food but also increases the cost).
  • Some companies use “least cost sourcing” (buy the cheapest ingredient – example might buy poultry product one week and beef product the next week because of changes in price). This means what is really in the bag changes constantly.

8. Does this company purchase ingredients from “rendering” companies?

  • No
  • Rendering companies pick up animals that die at the farm, usually within a few days of death, and then process them.

9. Does this company avoid purchasing ingredients from China (where the majority of recalled ingredients have originated from)? This company does not purchase ingredients from China.

10. Are the company’s research veterinary facilities inspected and approved by the American Animal Hospital Association? Yes this company owns its own research facilities and the veterinary facilities are approved by the AAHA.

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