Ask the vet
Q: If the economy forces me to start buying pet food at the big-box stores, what ingredients do I need to look for? What should I avoid?
A: As economic pressures mount, we are all looking to reduce expenditures. While it is tempting to choose pet food based primarily on price, there are additional considerations to keep in mind. Specifically, there are three parts to pet food labels that are especially important:
— Presence (or absence) of Association of American Feed Control Officials Inc. (AAFCO) certification. Its presence assures that a diet is complete and balanced.
— Guaranteed nutritional analysis: Because of the difference in water content between canned and dry food (75 percent versus 10 percent) comparing nutritional analyses can be tricky. As a rule of thumb, multiplying the protein, fat and fiber percentages listed on canned food by four will give the approximate “true” (dry matter) nutritional content.
— The ingredient list. This list is in order by weight. Protein is the most expensive component of a diet. The source of protein, animal versus plant, and the quality of protein strongly influence bioavailability (how much of a nutrient is usefully absorbed by the body).
Another note: “By-product” and “meal” are not always indicators of poor quality. By-product (e.g., beef by-product) contains organ tissues, which can have good nutritional value. Meal (e.g., chicken meal) is dehydrated and therefore is a more concentrated source of nutrients.
My suggestion: If you find a diet that is working well for your pet, stick with it.
SFVS News: Dr. Craig Maretzki in SF Chronicle, Discusses Pet Food
October 19, 2008 by sfvs