If any of you consider your dogs and cats to be not only animals, but a member of the family you are probably always on the hunt for ways to optimize their health regardless of what you feed.
In the U.S. alone, $60 billion was spent on pets in 2015, and food accounted for $22-23 billion of total expenditures. Quite evidently, pet food is the fastest-growing segment in the pet industry. That’s a lot of money going to pet food companies and suppliers to nourish our pets- reflecting the huge responsibility on the pet food industry to do right by us, the consumers.
A large and booming market indicates lots of competition in the space. It is becoming increasingly difficult to weed out pet food brands that we can trust versus those that are dishonest about their products. With the recent trend and growing consumer demand for grain-free, fresh, protein-rich, and reputably-sourced ingredients in pet foods, health-conscious pet owners are looking for better, healthier alternatives. But with clever marketing strategies executed by large pet food companies using catch-all phrases such as “all-natural” and “fresh,” pet parents are overwhelmed with all the options on the market and don’t know what is truly best for their pets.
No pet parent is safe from the increase in recent pet food recalls from even “premium,” trusted pet food brands. That is why we need to be more proactive when it comes to choosing the right foods for our 4-leggers.
Pet food labeling regulations are established by the Food & Drug Administration; however, there is no requirement that pet products have pre-market approval by the FDA. That means that pet foods are not checked for truthful labeling before they hit store shelves.
Another concern is the quality and source of ingredients in pet foods. For example, the word “chicken” does not reveal anything about the source, quality, or condition of the animal processed in the pet food.
In my opinion, the best pet foods are those that are as fresh as possible, minimally-processed, limited-ingredient, lightly-cooked (or raw), free of gluten, soy and corn, and high in rich, quality protein from safe sources. However, you choose what you want to feed your pet and the food that meets their needs.
Below I have compiled a list of websites that provide very thorough and informative research on deciphering pet food labels. They all contain important and relevant information regarding what you should have your eyes peeled for when shopping for the right pet food for your beloved family member.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, I strongly suggest you check out my informational guide on pet nutrition as well as my post on how to add health-boosting supplements to your dog’s existing diet to optimize long-term health and wellness.
Disclaimer: I am not a pet nutritionist or veterinarian, nor do I claim to be one. All the information contained in this post are of my informed opinion drawn from personal experience and expertise in the subject.