Pet food is big business. So big that food companies are spending a lot of marketing dollars trying to make their brand stand out against the rest. Commercials, print ads, social media pushes and more are making foods household names, much like cereal, soda and other packaged goods have done. And like everywhere else, there are brands spending lots of money that are putting out less than mediocre products that are fooling many pet owners.
To understand the quality of a food is to understand the integrity of a company. Companies producing quality pet food are doing the right things right. They have your pets’ best interest in mind and are choosing to align themselves with ingredients that are safe and nutritious.
To make the short list in my stores, at minimum, a food must be free of by-products, wheat, corn, soy, artificial colors and artificial preservatives. Unfortunately, the ingredients that are banned from my stores are acceptable and still be considered “balanced”, “natural” and “safe”.
So how do you know if you’re pets food is providing quality ingredients?
First, you must learn how to read the ingredient panel:
The ingredients are listed in order of weight in the bag. Whatever is first is the most prevalent. For example, if it reads “Corn, soybean, chicken by-products” then there is more corn than anything else.
The first five ingredients are the most important because they make up the majority of what’s in the food. A food that has “Corn, soybean, rice, wheat, chicken meal” is almost completely a vegetarian diet, regardless if the front of the bag says “Chicken & Rice”.
Artificial preservatives include BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin. These have no purpose being in pet food. Rather, look for Mixed Tocopherol or Rosemary Extract. Unlike the others, these natural preservatives have not been known to cause cancer.
Learning about the company’s integrity is the next most important step. One must understand why the company is in the pet food business. Is it to just make money, or, to make a truly nutritious product and the money follows. There is a difference.
Read their websites from beginning to end. You will notice the difference between the big guys and the smaller guys with more of the smaller companies producing the higher-quality foods. You’ll read stories about their pets who gave them the inspiration to start making a food. Or, you’ll learn about the company being family owned for generations. Some of the best of the best will share that they source their own ingredients from their own farms and make their foods from their own facilities-something that very few companies do.
Want some help checking out your pets’ food? Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to help.