We’re all used to seeing discussions about the optimum nutritional values in dog food and the alternatives for owners who want to make sure they give their dogs the healthiest options available, but who is responsible for ensuring the standards of dog food? How do we know that the ingredients listed in pet foods have been checked and verified for safety?
Pet food is a heavily regulated product and as such is covered by legislation throughout The United States and Canada, and throughout Europe too. In the States, pet food manufacturers are regulated by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), who are advised by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), monitor the ingredient ratios and manufacturing standards for pet food ingredients. Unfortunately there is no stringent legislation which demands a basic benchmark of nutritional balance, and there are manufacturers who add chemicals to their brands which have been proved to contribute to the early degeneration of an animal’s health. Some manufacturers state that a brand is suitable for senior animals when in fact it is simply suitable for adult animals.
In the UK and mainland Europe the regulatory body is the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF). They lay down guidelines for the manufacture, labelling and advertising for pet foods and demand high standards for ingredient ratios and manufacture, but as in the States, many of the guidelines for petfood manufacturers are voluntary when it comes to additives and ingredients sourcing. There is much expert veterinary research to suggest that pet food is actively contributing to the failing health of pets because of the standard and ratio of ingredients and the inclusion of additives.
What can you do to make sure that you are feeding your dog a healthy diet that will keep him healthy, fit and energetic throughout his life?
Your first port of call is the label. Check the ingredients and see which constituents are labelled in the first five. If the first is cereal, you can guarantee that the can you’re holding is based mostly on ground cereals, which do not offer the required nutritional values for a healthy dog. Check the chemicals that are added, and find out what these chemicals do and why they are included.
You may also like to check on the research and development of the particular dog foods you’re considering. Do they use animals in their development programmes; how and why? What specific tests do they to ensure that pets are going to enjoy the food or that it is safe to eat?
Once you have the information you’re interested in finding, talk to your vet about the options you have for making sure your dog stays healthy and active for as many years as possible. What you feed your dog is ultimately your choice, but bear in mind that the choice you make has a direct bearing on his current and future health.