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Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining the health of your pet. Additionally, many health conditions can be managed or treated with specific diets.

Our pets eat healthier than we do! Every food sold with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label has to meet minimum standards for nutritional value. This means that if your pet is being fed a commercial diet, he or she will be eating a well-balanced diet.

Here is some important information about pet foods:

1. One of the most important things to look at on a bag of pet food is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional adequacy statement. Nutritional adequacy is achieved through 1) feeding trials, or 2) formulation tests. An AAFCO statement through feeding trials is preferred over formulations.

2. It is best to feed pets with a food designed to match their life stage (maintenance for adult, or growth and reproduction for puppies and kittens). AAFCO requires that foods meet and disclose one of these two nutrient profiles. There is no AAFCO defined nutrient profile for senior/geriatric life stage and these products can vary widely.

3. It remains optional for pet food manufacturers to include calorie content on packaging. Without this information it is easy to risk over-feeding pets which can result in obesity and other health problems. Selecting a food from a company that chooses to report the calories is preferred as it is easier to select the appropriate feeding portions.

4. Many pet food rating systems and reviews are based on judgments about ingredients. Unless your pet has had a reaction to a particular ingredient or has known food allergies, the ingredient list is not very useful for deciding nutritional values and how the food will affect your pet’s health. Additionally, ingredients commonly labeled as food allergy culprits (such as corn and other grains) are in fact very nutritious and well-tolerated by most pets. Also, the major ingredients commonly used in pet foods, like beef or lamb meal, are fairly well regulated and defined by AAFCO. However, other ingredients such as fruits and vegetables have no AAFCO definition and therefore, “apples” may actually be apple seeds, stems or leaves that do not have nutritional value.

5. Labels such as “low fat”, weight control” or “less active” are not meaningful. The FDA places no limit on how much fat or calories a food with one of these labels can have. In the same vein, foods labeled “with” an ingredient only needs to have 3% of that ingredient, and the word “natural” has no meaning. Finally, there are currently no guidelines in place to define the term “organic” in pet food. More information on pet food labels can be found on the FDA’s website link.

6. At BPPH we carry a large selection of both over-the-counter and prescription diets. Here are links to the most common brand that we carry:

Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Royal Canin
iVet Professional Formulas Pet Foods