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Pet Food and Pet Nutrition  

 
 

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Pet Food and Pet Nutrition

The Right Stuff: Choosing a Good Pet Food

So how can pet owners choose the right food for their pets? Examine three parts of the pet food label: the life stage claim, the contact information for the manufacturer, and the list of ingredients.

Pet owners should look for the word "feeding" in the life stage claim (found in the nutritional adequacy statement on the label). This means the food was proven nutritionally adequate in animal feed tests.

Another item to check on the label is the contact information. Pet owners should look for the manufacturer's telephone number. Only the manufacturer's name and address are required, but people should be able to call manufacturers to ask questions about their products, says Burkholder, and manufacturers should be responsive. "They will not tell you how much liver, for example, is in their product, because that's part of their proprietary formula. But they should tell you how much of any nutrient is in the product."

The ingredients list on the label is an area of consumer preference and subjectivity. Pet owners who do or do not want to feed a pet a certain ingredient can look at the list of ingredients to make sure that particular substance is included or excluded.

Pet Food Safety and Nutrition

No matter what choice they make, consumers can take comfort in knowing that pet food is manufactured under a series of standards and regulations. These regulations require some nutrients and additives, disallow others, and stipulate certain information that must be on the label. The labels of packages and cans of commercial cat and dog food must list five pieces of information: guaranteed analysis, nutritional adequacy statement, ingredients, feeding guidelines, and the manufacturer's name and address. With the exception of a nutritional adequacy statement, these items must also appear on commercial food labels for other pets, such as gerbils, snakes, and parakeets.

Table Scraps May Be Dangerous

Some people think a food that they eat is good for their pets. Not true. Some human foods, in fact, may be dangerous to pets. "Most pet owners simply do not know that small amounts of chocolate, onions, macadamia nuts and bread dough can be fatal if ingested by a dog," says Steve Hansen, D.V.M., senior vice president of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. "And cats, in particular, have a body chemistry quite different from ours," and so are susceptible to poisoning from a number of human foods.

Also because of their different body chemistry and nutritional requirements, cats should not be fed dog food, says Burkholder.

More on pet nutrition

 

 

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