Nutrition Series: How do I decide what to feed my pet?

Submitted by Veterinary Wellness Partners on Tue, 10/06/2015 - 4:29pm

As veterinary professionals, we often get asked for our recommendations on pet food.  Clients often ask: "What do you feed your dog/ cat?".  With the seemingly endless options that are available, it can be difficult to decide what to feed your pet and what is the best diet.  

Here are a few tips when selecting a pet food:

  1. Don't assume that a food is better just because it is on an end cap at a grocery store or pet store.  The items that are located on the end caps are often either by companies that have purchase that space or by products that offer a higher profit to the pet stores.
  2. Don't be persuaded simply by the recommendations of the employee at the pet store.  While these employees undoubtedly have a passion for animals and greater knowledge than the average pet owner, they are also likely influenced by the same companies that buy the end cap space.  These companies spend a lot of time, effort, and money educating and persuading pet store workers to push their foods.  Knowledge is certainly a great thing, but education can sometimes can be used to persuade the one that is being educated.
  3. Look at the back of the bag.  This back panel should list the ingredients, as well as the nutrition facts.  There should also be one of two statements listed on the back:

The first statement is: {Brand of Food}  is formulated TO MEET the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO DOG (or Cat) Food Nutrient Profile for (Life stages)."  This statement indicates the the particular diet was developed to meet the nutritional standards and is simply a food analysis.  These foods are based on analytic testing of the finished product.

The second statement is: "Animal feed tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate {Name of Food} provides complete and balanced nutrition for (Life stages)"  This statement indicates that not only does the particular diet meet the nutritional levels, but that it has also gone through a rigorous food trial evaluation (often lasting 6 months or more).   These have also been tested for palatability (Whether pets will actually eat the food), as well as nutritional adequacy.

  1. Don't be wary of name brands just because you have heard that they are not good.  Many of these notable companies like Purina, Science Diet, Royal Canin, Iams and Eukanuba have large budgets and a lot of research facilities to produce the best pet food possible.  
  2. Call the manufacturer and ask the following questions:
  • Do you employ a full time qualified nutritionist?
  • Who formulates your diets and what are his/ her credentials?
  • Where are your foods produced and manufactured?
  • What kind of product research has been conducted?
  • What specific quality control measures do you use to assure the quality and consistency of your ingredients and the end product?


*  As a general rule, we do not recommend the feeding of raw food diets and homemade diets.  These diets are okay to feed on a short term basis, but are often not balanced enough to be a maintenance diet in the long term.

*  A quick note if you are looking for a product that is manufactured locally, Buckeye Feeds is produced in Dalton, Ohio and is a reputable company (Their parent company is Mars).

Nutrition Series part twp:  How much should I feed my dog?