Many concerned pet-owners are calling us regarding the recent news reports about the link between heart disease and certain kinds of food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also listed the most common dog-food brands reported (https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/news-events/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy#diet). Dogs are dying because of nutritional imbalances and people would like advice on what to feed their pets.
There are no real regulations controlling the claims made by pet food companies. Company claims are supposed to be factual but we must remember that they also act as promotional advertisement. Terms such as “holistic”, “premium”, “boutique”, “natural”, “real meat”, “grain-free” or “human-grade” are unregulated and do not mean much in terms of nutrition. A lot of people get their information from the sales associates at pet-food stores, but you must remember that their job is to literally sell you food. Veterinarians make recommendations based on nutritional science and long-term feeding trials.
As per the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (https://www.wsava.org/wsava/media/arpita-and-emma-editorial/selecting-the-best-food-for-your-pet.pdf), these are the questions you should be asking the pet food company:
- Do you employ a full-time qualified nutritionist? What is this nutritionist’s name and qualifications?
- Who formulates your foods and what are his/her credentials?
- Are your diets tested using AAFCO feeding trials or by formulation to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles? If the latter, do they meet AAFCO nutrient profiles by formulation or by analysis of the finished product?
- Where are your foods produced and manufactured?
- What specific quality control measures do you use to assure consistency and quality of your ingredients and the end product?
- Will you provide a complete nutrient analysis for the dog or cat food in question?
- What is the caloric value per gram, can, or cup of your food?
- What kind of product research has been conducted? Are the results published in peer-reviewed journals?
If the manufacturer cannot or will not provide any answers to the above questions, or does not provide the answer you want to hear, owners should be cautious about feeding that brand.
We recommend you feed AAFCO approved diets that test for completeness and perform feeding trials. The most well-known brands are Purina, Hill’s, Royal Canin and Iams. In case you were wondering what I feed my own dogs and cat, they eat Purina.