how to choose the right pet foodAs pet owners, it is important to make informed decisions about the diets of our furry companions. However, with so many options available, it can be difficult to know what to look for when choosing the right pet food.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Global Nutrition Committee provides guidelines to help pet owners make informed decisions.

What to Look for in a Brand

  1. Qualified Nutritionist: Look for brands that employ a nutritionist with the appropriate qualifications. These qualifications include a PhD in Animal Nutrition or board certification by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) or the European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN).
  2. Formulator: The recipe should be developed by an experienced pet food formulator with a degree in animal nutrition. It should not be formulated by a general practice veterinarian, pet owner, breeder, celebrity, or trainer.
  3. Quality Control: The manufacturer should have a quality control process for ingredients and finished products. This process should include ingredient validation, final diet nutrient analysis, toxicology, bacteriology, and packaging/shelf-life screenings.
  4. Product Research: Brands that conduct or sponsor nutritional research show a commitment to animal health and wellness.

What to Look for on a Pet Food Label

pet food label

  1. Nutrition Adequacy Statement: The label should indicate the food provides a “complete” diet with all required nutrients and match the nutritional needs of the individual dog or cat. Ideally, this claim should be substantiated by an AAFCO feeding trial.
  2. Calories per Gram/Serving: Look for the calorie content per gram or serving of food to prevent unintended overfeeding. Ask your veterinarian for help calculating a calorie goal for your individual pet.
  3. Contact Information: The company should provide immediate contact information such as a phone number or email address for additional questions.
  4. Manufacturer: Look for information about who makes the food and if they use a third-party manufacturer (“made by” vs. “made for” or “distributed by”).

If the manufacturer cannot or will not provide the information listed above, pet owners should be cautious about feeding that brand. The WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee provides these guidelines to help pet owners make informed decisions about their pet’s diet.

For more information, check out The Savvy Dog Owner’s Guide: Nutrition on the Internet and The Savvy Cat Owner’s Guide: Nutrition on the Internet.

Read more insights from Dr. Alison!

Alison Barulich, DVM

Alison Barulich, DVM


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