Video:How to Decipher Pet Food Labelswith Dr. Ellie Shelburne
There's a lot of information on most pet food labels, but it can all be really helpful once you know how to read it. This video from About.com will teach you how to interpret the information on a standard pet food label.See Transcript
Transcript:How to Decipher Pet Food Labels
Hi, I'm Dr. Ellie Shelburne for About.com, and today, we're going to talk about how to read pet food labels.
Pet Food Labels: Brand Name
When looking at a pet food label, the first thing you should notice is the brand name. It is important to choose pet food from a label that is reputable, so that you can avoid recalls, dangerous chemicals, anything that can be added into some of the foods, and to avoid some common medical problems. So be sure that the label is not a generic or big box label name.
Pet Food Labels: Life Stage
The second thing to look for on your pet food label is the life stage. Is the food appropriate for a kitten or a puppy, or do you have a middle-aged animal that should have a maintenance-type diet? If your animal is overweight, you might want to choose a light diet. Or if you have a senior pet, you might want to choose a diet for senior animals.
Pet Food Labels: AAFCO Certification
One thing to look for that can be a little tricky to find is the AAFCO label. That's A-A-F-C-O. What that means is that the food has been tested to be nutritionally complete. Most dog foods and cat foods will be AAFCO-certified. Be very suspicious if you don't see that at ALL on the label.
Pet Food Labels: Ingredients
The fourth thing to look at is the ingredient list. If you're using a premium or reputable brand, then you don't have to worry too much about the ingredient list - unless your animal has an allergy. For instance, if your dog has a beef allergy, you can look at the label and make sure there's no beef in there. You might want to look for a diet that has just a few ingredients, so you won't be thrown off by animal by-products or extra things that have beef proteins in them.
Pet Food Labels: Feeding Recommendations
Lastly, you should be looking on the label for the feeding recommendations. This is where you find out how much you should be feeding your animal. As a veterinarian, I've found that even when you're feeding on the low end of this recommendation, your animal may become overweight. So it's important to start at the low end, and use measuring cups to know exactly how much you're feeding, and if your animal is gaining at this amount, you can reduce it appropriately.
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