How much "real food" is in my pet's food?


There is a lot of information available when researching what's really in the food you feed your pet. As a pet parent, it can be confusing and contradictory. Finding the truth can be an exercise in persistence. An exercise worth undertaking.

The good news is that the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture and the Federal Trade Commission regulate pet food. The FDA and FTC have authority over labeling and advertising claims, while the FDA regulates the ingredients and finished products. Additional state controls can be in play as well. All these organizations work together to ensure pet food labels are truthful and contain no misleading information as well as:

  • Conspicuously identify the product as a dog or cat food.
  • Display the quantity statement and name of the manufacturer or distributor.
  • Display a brand name that is not misleading as to the content or nutritional properties.
  • Provide a guaranteed chemical analysis that conforms to state animal feed laws.
  • List ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight in the product.
  • List ingredients in accordance with AAFCO definitions.

In addition to a variety of protein sources in pet food, water and other fillers are often used, depending on the type of food. The maximum allowed moisture for canned pet food is 78%, while dry foods may contain as much as 12% moisture. Ingredients on the pet food label are listed in order of percentage content. For example, if a product is listed as Beef Dog Food, it must contain 95% of more of that ingredient, excluding water used in processing. If two meat ingredients are listed as the primary ingredients, the two together must equal 95%. If the food is named Beef Dinner or Beef Entree (or platter, formula, etc.) regulations require that the food listed must make up between 25 and 95% of all ingredients by weight.

For more information about deciphering pet food labels and to learn how pet food is made, click on this link.



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