Pet food isn’t animal feed meant for consumption, except by humans. Normally sold in pet shops and groceries, it’s typically specific to the kind of animal, like cat food or dog food. Most commercial meat used for domestic animals is usually harvested from the byproducts of the animal food manufacturing industry and isn’t considered “real” meat. Many pet owners feel guilty about the suffering of animals that are destined for a life in cages and don’t realize that if they don’t buy the right kind of food, their pets will suffer. But, as any pet owner can tell you, your pet’s health, happiness, and quality of life are of utmost importance to you.

pet food

Many common household pets, including cats and dogs, enjoy dry kibble or canned food. Although they’re convenient and inexpensive, these types of pet food aren’t necessarily ideal for your pets’ health. It should be noted that dry kibble is often made with inferior meat sources, so it may not be as beneficial to your pets as dog food, or even cat food.

To better understand your pet’s nutritional needs, it’s important to first understand what types of nutrients should be included. The first thing you should know is that the nutritional needs of every pet are individual, dependent upon the breed, age, gender, and activity level. For example, young puppies need more protein than older dogs, and cats (though most domesticated felines are hypoallergenic to cat food) need more vitamins and minerals than dogs. The best way to assess your pet’s nutritional needs is to do a free home dietary assessment. This can be done in a few ways:

Companies that manufacture pet foods have to submit their products to the FDA’s Comprehensive Product Data Registration Program, or CPDR. This information is gathered from the manufacturing process through distribution. Manufacturers must document anything that may change the composition or ingredients of their manufactured food products. This includes using or adding animal by-products, or by changing the name of a nutrient, as well as the size or shape of a nutrient. If the manufacturer has conducted clinical trials on the compositions of their products, the company must report the results. This clinical trial information is then stored by the FDA, making it a key part of our understanding of dietary supplements and medicines’ effectiveness.

Pet food manufacturers are required to list the complete ingredients in any food they distribute. Many dog food manufacturers, like Purina, Internet, Purina, and Iams, are required to use the “complete nutrition” term in their dog-food product. The term is defined as providing your dog with an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals, fat, carbohydrates, protein, essential fatty acids, fiber, potassium, vitamins B-12 & C, zinc, and trace minerals. Also, some pet food companies are required to use a statement acknowledging that the nutrient content was evaluated according to federal, state, and local health department guidelines.

Pet food ingredients may come from several different types of sources, including grains such as corn, rice, oats, and soybeans, vegetables (like carrots, squash, beans, okra), fruits (mainly apples, raisins, dates), meats (beef, lamb, chicken), and specialty ingredients, which may include yeast, berries, herbal extracts, probiotics (beneficial bacteria), antioxidants, minerals, flavonoids (color enhancers), and several types of vitamins. The quality and nutritional value of each of these ingredients may vary. Many pet foods, especially those sold in stores, are simply a blend of several ingredients. However, most dog food manufacturers adhere to the guidelines defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO.