News & Advice

Are you looking for some advice when deciding on the best diet for your pet?

Aug 15, 2019 | Cats, Dogs, Pet Health, Rabbit

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WASAVA) has developed a toolkit for you to investigate when selecting a food.

We recommend asking the following questions, or visiting your local Anexa clinic, and one of our staff can help you choose a diet depending on you and your pet’s needs.

  1. Does the manufacturer employ at least one full-time qualified nutritionist?
  2. What are the qualifications of the person who formulates their food (if it’s not the same person as their nutritionist)?
  3. Does the manufacturer own the plant(s) where their food is manufactured? Most small companies do not own their own plants which can reduce the control they have over quality.
  4. What quality control measures does the manufacturer practice? These vary widely among manufacturers, but strict quality-control measures are critical to ensure safe, consistent, and nutritious food for your pet. Saying it’s the highest quality doesn’t make it true. Nor does having a statement on the label saying the food is complete and balanced. In fact, many studies have shown nutritional deficiencies in pet foods that claim on the label to be nutritionally complete and balanced (and the foods that had those deficiencies would not have met the standards detailed on this list). Examples of quality control measures the manufacturers should be using include certification of a manufacturer’s procedures (e.g., Global Food Safety Initiative, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or American Feeding Industry Association); testing ingredients and end products for nutrient content, pathogens, and aflatoxins; materials risk assessments; and supplier audits.
  5. Are their foods tested with Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) feeding trials? (This information also can be found on the label – find out how). If AAFCO feeding trials are not conducted, the manufacturer should at least ensure their diets meet AAFCO nutrient profiles through analysis of the finished product (rather than by predicting they meet the profiles based only on the recipe). This information can only be determined by asking the manufacturer.
  6. Does the company conduct any research? Do they publish it in peer-reviewed journals?
  7. Can the manufacturer provide you with the amount of any nutrient of interest (for example, sodium, protein, copper, or calcium). They should be able to provide this information not just as guaranteed analysis numbers (which will be only minimums or maximums, and are nearly useless), but as the average (or typical) analysis. This should ideally be provided on an energy basis (i.e., grams per 100 kilocalories or grams per 1,000 kilocalories), rather than on an as-fed or dry-matter percent basis, which does not account for the variation in energy density among foods.
  8. Can the manufacturer provide you with the number of calories for any of their foods on any requested weight or volume basis (for example, per cup, per can, or per kilogram).
  9. Does the manufacturer bash other pet food companies (especially using information that is based on myths, rather than factual information) in their advertisements or on their websites?

If a manufacturer can’t (or won’t) give you all of this information (or doesn’t have good answers to your questions), this should be a red flag and you should be cautious about feeding that brand. There are good manufacturers out there, but also many that leave much to be desired in terms of quality control. A little digging can help you make a more objective decision on the best quality food for your beloved canine or feline family member.

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