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In How to make sense of pet food label claims, Part 1, we listed common terms used to describe the contents of a food, such as “dinner,” “premium,” “organic,” and more, and revealed the meaning behind those words. Today, we’ll present a buffet of terms.

“All Life Stages” — If a pet food has this claim on the label, skip it. Pets have different nutritional needs in different life stages (growth, growth & lactation, adulthood, senior status). Your pet’s food should specifically reflect your pet’s nutrient needs at each stage of her life.

Bone meal contains high levels of magnesium and phosphorus. These minerals are hard on the kidneys and they are not a good source of calcium. Avoid giving your pet a food containing bone meal.

By-products
Many people are concerned about by-products in pet food. The definition of a by-product is, essentially: Something produced in the making of something else.

For example, glucosamine (which many people and their pets take for joint support) is a by-product.

In pet food, nutritionally dense organ meat is a by-product, and it is good for your pet. In other words, just because an ingredient is considered a by-product, does not necessarily mean it is unhealthy to feed your pet.

Did You Know?
Every part of a chicken can be used in pet food,
including beaks and feet!

Fixed formula: does your pet’s food qualify?
A fixed formula pet food is one in which the ingredients do not change.

When pet food manufacturers change the ingredients in a bag or can of food, they have up to six months to change the label to reflect the new ingredients. One work-around is to constantly change the ingredients, so the label never technically has to be updated. Thus, your pet may do well on Mrs. Bea’s Lovely Coat* Chicken and Rice for the first bag, but get sick on the second bag because the food now contains beef and barley — yet the food label hasn’t changed!
*Fictionalized brand.

So how do you know if a brand uses a fixed formula? Two ways:
1. If the diet is therapeutic, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet or Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. These are foods specially designed to treat certain medical conditions. In order to be effective, their ingredient lists and guaranteed analysis minimums and maximums remain steady.
2. If the food is a commercial brand, call the company and ask. (Hill’s Science Diet foods use a fixed formula.) 

Light or Lite -designated foods are designed for weight loss. If your pet needs to lose weight, avoid “Weight Control” or “Weight Management” diets, since those are weight maintenance diets, not weight loss diets. To be sure your pet is on a lower-calorie food, look for the word “Light” or “Lite” on the label. Because these foods cannot be tested in AAFCO trials, they adhere to calorie maximums for both dry and canned foods:
Dry dog food……….3100 kcal/kg maximum

Canned dog food….900 kcal/kg maximum
Dry cat food………..3250 kcal/kg maximum
Canned cat food….950 kcal/kg maximum

Did You Know?
Weight loss diets cannot be AAFCO-tested,
since it is not permissible for animals
to lose weight during feeding trials.

 

Moisture level in a food is indicated by the type of food your pet eats.
Dry food is maximum 12% moisture, 88% dry matter.
Semi-moist food is maximum 33% moisture, 67% dry matter.
Canned or wet food is maximum 78% moisture, 22% dry matter.
So, as moisture increases, the water content is replacing meat and other ingredients.

 

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