You should compare pet food products by their nutritional adequacy statements!
Nutritional Adequacy Statements:
All products claiming to be complete and balanced must have a nutritional adequacy statement. Unfortunately, it is often the most difficult information to find on pet food labels, but it is usually close to the Guaranteed Analysis and the Ingredient List.
There are two questions you should ask when evaluating the nutritional adequacy statement and before deciding to buy a pet food:
1. Was the food tested in a feeding test, study, or trial according to AAFCO procedures?
There are two methods by which a food is substantiated to be complete and balanced:
a. The composition of the food meets or exceeds the AAFCO recommendations of each essential nutrient. This method requires either a computer calculation or actual laboratory analysis of nutrient content and is at best a theoretical analytical claim. The wording of this claim would be similar to:
“McDuffy’s Lucky Dog Dinner has been formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for the maintenance of adult dogs.”
b. The food was actually fed to a group of animals. This is the best method of substantiating a food to be complete and balanced. The wording of this claim would be similar to:
“Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that McDuffy’s Lucky Dog Dinner provides complete and balanced nutrition for the maintenance of adult dogs.”
2. Was the food tested in animals similar to my pet?
The food should be feeding trial tested in animals similar to your pet. The nutritional adequacy statement should state in what species (dog or cat) and in which lifestages (growing, adult, reproducing) the food was tested. This description should match your pet; that is, if your pet is a growing kitten, then the food should have been tested in growing kittens, etc. The wording of this claim would be similar to:
“Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that McDuffy’s Lucky Kitten Dinner provides complete and balanced nutrition for growing kittens.”
This statement should be the most influential factor in your decision to try a new food. The nutrient analysis information and ingredient list should be of secondary importance.