Reading and understanding a pet food label, it can be a very tricky business! However, it’s a part of our responsibility as pet parents to be 100% aware of what exactly is in the food that we are feeding out pets. So, you’re looking for the best nutrition for your pet, but where do you start? On the front of the packaging, most Pet Food marketing messages shout “natural”, “premium” or “optimum”… However, quite often, if you read the food label on the back of the pack, you will quickly find that these products are not as they seem.
Here is our ZIWI® Peak guide to reading Pet Food Labels
1. What is a pet food label? A pet food label is an authorized document controlled by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and is the principal means of communication between the manufacture and the consumer.
2. How do I understand if the ingredients are good or bad?
Ingredients are always listed in descending order by weight
High water content in certain meat ingredients weigh more than dry ingredients such as grains, meals and vitamins, so they are frequently listed first
It is important to watch out for meat by-products or meat meals as often these contain unpleasant ingredients ground into a mix during processing
Watch out for deprived quality proteins such as corn gluten meal, wheat gluten meal, rice protein concentrate and soy protein
Formulas containing corn or soy. Corn is a cheap filler ingredient and has no nutritional value. It is also a known allergenic. Soy is estrogenic and can cause major damage to your pets endocrine system
Watch out for artificial colours, flavours, sugars, sweeteners or propylene glycol
Most products contain over 70% carbohydrates like rice, maize, cereals, potatoes, carrots, peas, beetroot, grains, wheat, barley, cornmeal, soya, oaks, meat meal, and other non-meat ingredients that add no nutritional value to the food
Watch out for “No Grain” claims. It does not mean it has more meat in the food. In fact potatoes and pea protein are often the grain replacement but they are very bad for dogs and cats. Potatoes once cooked are known carcinogens.
NOTE: Keep in mind that your dog & cat are carnivores and that the perfect ingredients to match their digestive system are real meat & organs so look for foods that are high in real meat and organs as the first 5 ingredients.
3. What is the Guaranteed Analysis? The Guaranteed Analysis (US) or Analytical Constituents (EU) indicates minimum or maximum levels of nutrients in the food such as protein, fat, fibre and moisture. However, it is not a guarantee of exact levels of nutrients in the food as it is nearly impossible for an average pet owner to accurately compare nutritional information.
4. What does the AAFCO Statement mean? The AAFCO statement verifies the method of testing used to determine the nutritional acceptability of the pet food. It ensures the pet owner that the food provides a complete and balanced diet that is nutritionally suitable for the life stage of the pet. Phew! Feeling better now? It is our sincere belief that the higher the quality of the food and the more closely it resembles a completely natural wild prey diet, the lower the overall cost that pet ownership will be. Lower quality foods containing all the nasty stuff listed above can result in higher additional health care costs… Not to mention your new pet will not be feeling in its most tip top shape! So, take your time while choosing, do your research and make the best possible decision for your pet.