Dog food labeling and dog food regulation requirements are probably not something that you think about on a regular basis but if you are a pet lover they are something you need to make a priority to familiarize yourself with. The unfortunate truth is that the rules and regulations that govern pet food have not been made to ensure that what your dog is eating is nutritious, safe and is accurately reflected on the labeling of the food.
The truth is that the rules often allow for manufacturers to lead consumers into false beliefs on what they are feeding their dogs. The problem lies in the labeling specifics. For example, if your product says “With Chicken Flavor” the flavor only needs to be detectable but there does not have to be any actual chicken meat present in the product. How about one that’s labeled “Beef Dinner”, this product only has to contain 25% Beef and even worse, a product that says “With Beef” only has to contain at least 3% beef!
So even though you are buying a product that you think is “With Beef” and in your mind that means it’s full of hearty beef, you better think again! What you need dogfood-recipe to be looking for are whole products such as beef, chicken, salmon or venison. If a product says “Salmon For Dogs”, then at least 95% of that product must be Salmon and/or 70% including the water.
It’s just too easy to be fooled into thinking you are purchasing a wholesome product for your dog. You need to be able to decipher the labeling on the products you are purchasing to ensure your dog is getting the nutrition you are intending them to get.
Currently the pet food industry is being monitored by three different agencies. These agencies each play a different role in trying to ensure pet food safety. **FDA Center Veterinary Medicine**
The FDA division for Veterinary Medicine of course deals with animals and one of their functions is to make sure that the ingredients that are used in pet food are safe. The ingredients in pet food must also serve a functional purpose such as nutrition, flavor or vitamins and minerals. Any additional substances such as preservatives or additives must be specifically approved before they can be added.
**Association of American Feed Control Officials**
AAFCO is not a government agency like the FDA, instead its members are made up of state and federal employees from various agencies and employees from pet food companies. They have additional rules and dog food label regulations on top of the FDA regulations for pet foods. However, dog fd. regulations vary from state to state and not all states agree to AAFCO regulations.
The AAFCO require dog fd. to obtain the AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement in order for them to utilize the term “complete and balanced” on their packaging. It’s basically their way of guaranteed compliance for nutritional standards and statements and ingredients. If a dog fd. product acquires the AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement, it has met the Nutritional Profile based on the laboratory testing or it has successfully passed a feeding trial on live dogs.
Currently there are only two specific Nutrient Profiles being used:
**Growth, Lactation and Reproduction
**Pet Food Institute**
The Pet Food Institute is the voice of the U.S. Pet food manufacturers. It handles the industry’s public education and media relations and a representative before the U.S. Congress and state and federal agencies. They organize informational seminars and educational programs and coordinate with other organizations. The PFI represents 98% of all dog and cat food manufacturers in the U.S.
**Please see resource box for links to these agencies
PFI dedicates itself to the following:
Promote overall care and well being of pets
Support initiatives to advance the quality of dog and cat food
Support research in pet nutrition and the important role of pets in our society
Informing and educating the public on pet proper feeding and pet care
Representing the pet food industry before Federal and State governments
Although these three separate agencies work diligently to protect the pet food industry, it’s important that you make an effort to learn to understand and read the label on your dog’s food. Because even though there are food label regulations in place, they are full of loopholes and allow for clever wording or lack of descriptions to be left out of your pet food labels.
To start with the FDA does set forth this set of rules on all dog food labeling:
The product must be identified as a dog fd.
The weight, volume or count of the dog fd.
Name and location of the manufacturer
Listing of all ingredients by their common name
Listing of all ingredients in descending order by weight
With all of these agencies and rules and regulations in place I’m sure you are wondering why this doesn’t take care of the quality issues within the pet food industry. For starters, the AAFCO statements is only used on commercial pet foods. This means that anything produced under the “All Natural or Homemade” heading does not have to comply with this standard and cannot be compared.
Next, you should note that when they design these dog foods, they are just a base nutritional food. What I mean is, that they have not accounted for each dog’s individual needs in any way. For example, my dog Rodeo is a Border Collie and works cattle almost every weekend. He is an extremely active dog that requires high amounts of energy. This means he needs an excellent quality food with good protein and quality carbohydrates along with balanced fats, vitamins and minerals of course. This diet would not be suitable for a small dog that lazes around the house all day on the couch taking naps, living the pampered pup life.
The point is that an AAFCO Nutrient Profile only gives an average standard for the dog fd. manufactures to shoot for, so if they put the same average amount of protein, vitamins, minerals, fat etc. in each dog food, then how can that possibly be the best quality for your dog and your neighbor’s dog and his neighbor’s dog?
Now certainly there is no way the dog food industry could possibly make a food for each an every dog but making carbon copy foods is also not the answer. Obviously there still needs to be further changes to address the quality of the ingredients and not just the quantities of the dog food. The fillers and carbohydrates in dog fds. need to be addressed as they are generally responsible for over half of the make up of the dog fd. and yet hold little nutritional value for your dog. The other concern here is how the unknown ingredients affect your dog’s health and specifically their digestion.
The biggest idea to get across here, is that you really need to be reading those labels and if you feel strongly enough, make your voice heard. There is a definite need for new regulations and labeling laws. Write a letter, make a phone call – remember you speak for your dog!
With continued insistence from consumers the dog food industry is going to have to clean up their act and improve their pet food labeling and their products. For now, it’s up to you to take charge of your precious pup’s health and make that informed dog food brand decision and read those labels!
A few months ago I left the business world to pursue my passion of working with animals while trying to improve my health. To do this, I am using my 20+ years experience as a dog breeder and pet owner. I also worked for a well known veterinarian and national vet supply company for several years. I have a B.S. In Agriculture with an emphasis in Animal Science and Ag Business and I worked in the Agriculture Business Industry for over twenty years. So if you are interested in the details of how the right dog food, dog care and just good old fashioned love and affection can help your dog live a healthier and longer life, please join us at:
I mentioned these agencies, you can find them at the link listed below.
FDA Center Veterinary Medicine
Association of American Feed Control Officials
Pet Food Institute
**You Can Find The Links To These Agencies Here Click Here [http://www.love-your-dog-food.com/dog-food-labeling.html].
For more information visit the link below:
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