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The Lowdown on Pet Food

With Pet Food Labels, What You Read IS What You Get!

by Edward Moser, VMD, DACVN

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They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but the very opposite is true of pet foods.  It's not only possible to make an educated assessment of a product's nutritional profile from its ingredient label, but it's also a smart, responsible measure for those who love their four-legged companions. In the pet food industry, we have advisory and regulatory groups that guide the disclosure of product contents in packaging literature. As a result, today's pet food ingredient labels are much more than clever marketing messages and photos of adorable kitties and pups; they've become required reading for anyone serious about ensuring the proper diet and health of their pets.

What You Read Is What You Get
And what a story the modern-day pet food label tells! Diligent package-studying consumers are able to discern healthful ingredients from lower quality ingredients. The information is right there for anyone interested in gleaning it. Whether the food contained in the package is an exclusive designer formula or a mass-marketed kibble, every pet food label must list all ingredients in the order of their addition by weight, from highest to lowest.
Some labels show nothing but wholesome, all-natural ingredients in their recipes, while others may list meat by-products as a contributing protein source as well as wheat, soy, or chemical preservatives or additives. Conscientious pet parents that have learned what these ingredients may mean in terms of the effects--positive and negative--are protecting the overall health of their pet.  Once the food in question becomes part of the animal's diet, the assessment of ingredients is verified by the desired results: buoyant health and small stools.

Promoting Your Pet's Wellness
It's important to carefully examine the label of the pet food you are interested in feeding your furry friend to ensure the food contains healthy, wholesome ingredients. A specified protein source should be called out as the first ingredient of the food. Other ingredients to look for on the label include whole grains for fiber and energy, and fruits and vegetables for antioxidant protection. Look for certain supplements and minerals that aid in the maintenance of the health of various parts of the anatomy, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for the skin and coat, glucosamine and chondroitin for joints, and taurine for the cardiovascular system.

We Are What We Eat
Of equal significance are the items not found in the food. Meat by-products, wheat and wheat gluten, soy, dairy, and artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, and dyes are all examples of lower quality ingredients that offer no nutritional value and are potentially allergenic or harmful. What is kept out of your pet's diet is absolutely as critical as what goes in. Labels also specify whether the food is formulated for a particular animal population, such as large-breed puppies, aging cats, or animals sensitive to certain ingredients. These diets that address specific animal needs allow loving pet parents to choose the recipe that's just right for their pooch or kitty's life stage or condition.
It's important to remember that we are what we eat--for pets as well as people. Many people are very careful to review the labels of the foods they buy for themselves, looking for ingredients that will reduce their cholesterol, improve their mental acuity, or help them manage their weight. Just because pets can't ask for it, that doesn't mean they deserve anything less than the same carefully chosen menu and the wellness and happiness they derive from such a diet.

Dr. Edward Moser is a consulting Veterinary Nutritionist for Wellness® Natural Food for Pets. Wellness® Natural Food delivers lifelong, natural nutrition for dogs and cats, guaranteed. The pet professionals at Wellness carefully select all-natural, human-grade ingredients proven to deliver 100% of a pet's lifetime nutritional needs. To ensure pets enjoy a long and loving life, Wellness guarantees the best natural ingredient sourcing, most meticulous quality assurance and production standards, and nutritional analysis in the industry. Visit www.wellnesspetfood.com to learn more. 

Related Info:
The Bad News and Good News about Pet Food
Pet Nutrition
Pets Need Omega-3's Too!
Should You Give Your Pet SUPPLEMENTS?
Our Animals Need to Detox Too!
The Holistic Lifestyle for Your Pet

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