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Choosing the Right Pet Food for Your Best Friend
March 9, 2009
There are more pet food brands on the market today than ever before in history. There are hundreds if not thousands of different formulas. As pet owners, this competition among the many competing pet food companies should be welcomed. If all dogs were created the same and had the same needs, we would only need one brand and one formula. But as we all know, each dog is different. Just as every dog has a unique personality, every dog has unique nutritional needs. Luckily, we live in a place and at time when virtually any need can and will be met.
Until recently, there was little if any choice for pet owners who wanted to feed their dog a commercial grain-free diet. Because customers asked for a grain-free food, the industry responded by offering several. There are now many high protein formulas completely free of grain that are available to those who believe that a grain-free diet is what’s best for their dog.
After all, it is not up to the pet food companies, or the media, or even the veterinarian to dictate a dog’s diet. That is the right of the dog’s owner. It is the right of the person who loves that dog and no one else to decide what they will eat.
For that dog owner, this enormous range of choice and privilege comes with responsibility. It is his or her job to choose from among the staggering array of formulas, zeroing in on the best food among them for his or her beloved pet. If your dog doesn’t do well with a particular ingredient, then there is no need to buy a dog food with that ingredient in it. If one brand doesn’t agree with your dog, you have literally hundreds of other brands that want your business. Do your research and try another.
Most reputable pet food companies even have a money back guarantee. If your dog doesn’t like the product, or in the rare instant your particular pet doesn’t do well with a certain formula or ingredient, they will refund your money. What other industry will guarantee a product around the specific needs of an individual?
We now live in a very vocal world where anyone can offer his or her opinion on the Internet anonymously. But what doesn’t work well for one might work well for another. Does this mean something’s wrong? No, it means you have choices and finding what works best for your pocket book and your pet is key.
The pet food industry is very heavily regulated and closely monitored. Much more so than most any other food industry with the possible exception of infant formulas. In fact, pet food regulations and guidelines govern ingredients used, ingredient origins, the process by which the foods are made, the nutritional content, and the exact ingredients information that appears on the label.
When it comes to dog food, the label tells the story. Read your labels! In the end, it is up to you to decide what to feed your dog, but once you have decided what ingredients are best, you simply need to read the labels to find out which brands and formulas have what you need. It’s then that you can compare prices and look for the best value.
It’s interesting to note that there are human foods that do not even list ingredients on the packaging. Wine labels don’t list ingredients, but many wines contain products other than grape juice. They sometimes contain sugars, yeast, added water and even hard liquor. They all contain alcohol of course. Yet none of these are listed on the label. Products labeled as non-dairy may contain Caseinate which is a milk product used to make our non-dairy creamers more white. The label still says non-dairy. Milk products as a whole only somewhat recently had to list their ingredients on the package. Some might call these practices and others like them deceptive.
This is not the case with pet food labels. Ingredients are listed clearly and completely by order of weight. Distinctions are made among chicken, chicken meal, chicken fat, and chicken by-product, for instance. There are exact definitions for each ingredient and the FDA and AAFCO do not tolerate non-adherence to the rules. Individual states in the U.S. have further rules about ingredients labels that must be followed.
Commercial pet foods truly are one of the amazing products of the 20th and 21st centuries. They provide carefully balanced nutrition at an affordable price and offer some of the widest ranges of choice among any sort of food. There are more formulas of dog food on the market than there are breakfast cereals in the grocery store.
This huge range of choice puts the power, and the responsibility, in the hands of the pet owner. Read the ingredients labels. Pick what’s best for your dog. Find the best price. Above all, find the brand and formula that is best for your unique dog. Your best friend deserves it.