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Understanding the nutrition label on your pet’s food

 

Are you a label reader? Do you read the label on the things that you eat, drink and put in your body?

I’m a label reader. I have been every since I became a mom. As a young adult I honestly didn’t give much thought to the things I put in my body. I didn’t check the sodium, carbohydrates or how many grams of sugar was in the things I ate or drank. A lot of that has to do with why I’m overweight now.

When I became a mom I took the time to read and understand what was on the nutrition label of the foods and beverages I served my family. I wanted to make sure I fed them good, quality foods.

Are you a pet parent? I am. We currently have five cats and a ginormous Goldfish. We used to have a dog but we had to put him to sleep earlier this year.

Do you ever read the nutrition labels on your pet’s foods?

Admittedly I never did until our dog became sick (he had a fatal liver disease). I just assumed that pet foods were pretty much all the same. I honestly thought that you paid more for some food then others because of the brand name alone and not for the quality of the food it’s self.

Our beloved Espn before he got sick.

Was I ever WRONG. Not all pet foods are alike. There IS a notable difference between brands. And yes, the pricier foods ARE often better for your pet.

When our dog became sick I started to read and compare nutrition labels on a variety of pet foods. I compared the inexpensive grocery store brands to the super expensive foods sold at pet food stores. I DID notice a difference in not only the ingredients, but also how the food looked visually. Some of the less expensive foods looked like “slop” – stuff I wouldn’t even to a pig. Other foods looked so good that it would be appealing to people (although I would NEVER try it – that would be gross).

There are even suggested serving sizes listed on all pet foods. Many people don’t take those serving sizes into account, which is why there is a growing trend of obese dogs and cats. Two of our cats are obese, even though we try and watch what they eat (they must be sneaking food some how).

Our cat Anakin is overweight. We have no clue why this is. We DO watch what he eats.

Most pet parents want what is best for their pet, but understanding the information found on pet food labels might be a bit confusing. To make it easier, here’s a quick and easy breakdown of the five main components of a nutrition label and what it means for you and your dog, compliments of Petcurean.

Ingredients Panel:

  • The ingredients list is probably the most recognizable portion of the nutrition panel. What some pet owners may not know however is that the ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, which means the first ingredient is the largest quantity and the last ingredient is the smallest.
  • Tip: Buying economy brands of pet food is not always a money saver. Some economy brands use inexpensive ingredients that aren’t highly digestible. This means you must feed your dog more portions of the food just to ensure they’re meeting their nutritional requirements. In the long run, the cost per serving for a lower quality food is much higher than that of a premium food where your pet can get all of their nutrients from one serving.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • This section provides information about the nutrient content of the food. It should include the minimums for Crude protein and Crude fat, as well as the maximum Crude Fiber and Moisture. Additionally, any nutrients highlighted on the packaging must be included in the guaranteed analysis.
  • Tip: You can find the guaranteed analysis of a pet food product on a company’s website or by contacting the company. Here’s an example for Petcurean’s GO! Sensitivity + Shine LID Venison Recipe For Dogs.

Feeding Guidelines:

  • The feeding guidelines should only serve as a starting point for deciding how much to feed your pet, as it heavily depends on your pet’s size, age, and activity level.
  • Tip: The best way to assess proper feeding is by calculating your pet’s body condition score. You can find that out here.

Nutritional Adequacy Statement:

  • This statement tells you if the food is complete and balanced, meaning it meets all of your pet’s nutritional requirements. It will also tell you if the product should be used only for intermittent feeding or as a treat.
  • Tip: Pay attention to what stage of life this section recommends for feeding. It should be labeled for all life stages or for one stage in particular.

Certifications:

  • Organic: An organic certification means that the production methods comply with organic farming standards. The primary goal of organic production is to use farming practices that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.
  • MSC: The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent international non-profit certification organization that promotes sustainable fishing practices. An MSC certification is based upon three principles: sustainable fish stocks, minimizing environmental impacts, and effective management.
  • Vegan: The primary criteria for a product to receive the Certified Vegan logo is that the producer must prove that no ingredients were sourced from animals, no animal testing was permitted, adequate segregation of vegan and non-vegan ingredients was ensured and adequate clean out procedures were followed in facilities that produce vegan and non-vegan products.

GATHER™ dog and cat recipes have received three different food certifications, Vegan, MSC certified, and Organic, to provide transparency about the ingredients that have been carefully selected for these diets.

I actually read this information over a few times to make sure that I fully understood it. It’s a lot to take in. I think it’s a littler harder to understand pet food nutrition labels because it’s a bit different than human food labels. We also hear about nutrition labels all the time on the news, in magazines and on television. We don’t hear the same type of information about reading and understanding pet food nutrition labels. I think more should be done to educate pet parents about this, don’t you agree? Maybe legitimate breeders, animal shelters and/or pet food stores should offer a little informational packet about reading and understanding pet food nutrition labels. I think that would be a great idea.

The next time you go shopping for your pet’s food, take a few moments to pick up several pet foods (different brands, different types) and compare the labels. Do they make sense to you now? Can you notice a clear difference between quality brands and inexpensive store brands?

I appreciate that Petcurean shared this information with me so I could pass it along to my readers.

For more information about Petcurean foods visit Petcurean.com. There is also a store locator on the website to help you find a Petcurean retailer near you.

Do YOU read the labels on your pet’s food? Do you understand what you are reading? After reading this post are you going to take the time to read about what you are feeding to your pet? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

Kimberly

*I have partnered with Petcurean to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are that of my own and not influenced in any way.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.

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