Researching pet foods on the internet can be overwhelming to all of us. There is huge competition for your spending dollars and unfortunately, that means much of the information you first land on in an internet search has been placed there by companies spending a great deal more on marketing their product than on nutritional research and development.
As we have all learned, there are many people who are either paid to amplify marketing messaging, whether accurate or not, and many other people who just amplify the message despite not understanding its content.
For pet owners who want to begin the process to research a pet food for their companion, one of your first visits should be to WSAVA.org. It is independent, trusted and developed by board certified veterinary nutritionists who have no other interest than to improve the quality of life for companion pets through good nutrition.
That said, I do have some recommendations on how I choose a pet food.
1. Is the Company reputable, has it been around awhile and does it employ full-time veterinary nutritionists to develop over the counter and therapeutic diets?
2. Are the products consistently available and not subject to frequent recalls?
3. Is the product manufactured in the US?
4. Does the diet comply with AAFCO requirements?
5. Is the nutrition label complete on the package?
6. Is the product complete and balanced for all life stages?
7. Is an animal protein the first ingredient on the label for a dog or cat food? (Ingredients are listed in descending order of prevalence).
8. Does my dog or cat thrive on the product with well formed, compact stools twice daily and no apparent GI upset?
The list of brands that meet all of the above criteria is not very long. The most well-known are Hill’s, Purina and Royal Canin. Of those, Hill’s and Purina may be available in grocery stores but it is more likely that you would have to make a trip to a pet store for Royal Canin or purchase any of them online.
There are many other manufacturers that make quality products but I would beware of the hype. If you stick to evaluating the foods you are interested in with the above guidelines in mind, you will make a good choice. The professional staff at Croton Animal Hospital is here to help with any questions you may have.