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Complete and Balanced? Maybe…Maybe Not

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  1. T Allen

    Once again you have outdone yourself Susan! Have you considered moonlighting doing consulting work at the Veterinary colleges? A one day seminar with you could make a HUGE difference in the lives of young vets as well as their future clients! Thank you for another exemplary lesson in why AAFCO doesn’t meet our standards for scientific rigor or trustworthiness!

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Thank you. I would welcome any opportunity to speak to veterinary students!

      1. Pet Owner

        You should market yourself in that direction! 😉

  2. anonymous

    There is an even bigger problem associated with COMPLETE AND BALANCED. Because there is no requirement for the manufacturer to state whether the food is COMPLETE AND BALANCED as it is in the bag (after its cooked) or if its COMPLETE AND BALANCED after its formulated and before it’s cooked and made into little kibble (same is true of dehydrated, fresh etc). So you don’t even know if what is on the bag is PRE cook or POST cook. In fact, most foods are COMPLETE AND BALANCED “as formulated” but not once they are cooked and then placed into the bag (when they are dried and more moisture may come out than anticipated. A whole other level of problem to the complete and balanced claim.

  3. Debbie Perkins

    Thank you Susan! This is what I’ve been saying to veterinarians for years and no one has ever listened. When my bulldog had to lose weight and maintain said loss because of knee issues and surgery, I had to enlist a nutritionist to have a diet formulated. Because just feeding less like the bags say is not the answer. My bulldog weighs 55 pounds and can only eat around 540 calories/day without gaining weight.

  4. Janice

    The NRC (of the National Academies) offers a way to determine nutrient requirements based on the activity of the dog, e.g., on p. 359 of the 2006 Nutrient Requirements book, method 2. The weight used in calculating nutrient requirements is metabolic weight, which can be determined by a formula.

  5. Janet

    Thank you, Susan, for pointing out these discrepancies as well as the comparison with the European system. These are details that the majority of pet owners probably don’t even think about and just trust “their government” to be on top of. Most people don’t even know what AAFCO is and probably don’t even think about who establishes pet food guidelines or regulations.

  6. Tryniti

    Honestly, I’d be more worried about issues in this regard; Diets that claim they can meet your pet’s nutritional needs for the life of your pet, when NO such long-term study has actually been done by any of these companies. A 6-month feeding trial is AAFCO’s gold standard. That is not enough time to determine if a pet can and should live off of one food their entire lives, as many do. I can’t think of a single human being that has a complete and balanced meal, every single meal. It’s more important that you get all the nutrients you need to even out in about a week. This is something I learned when switching my dog to a raw food diet. So, no, they don’t need every single vitamin and mineral in every meal. Just like we don’t. This is honestly not something I’d be worried about. I think if pet owners were encouraged away from dry foods, and away from feeding a single formula for their whole pet’s life, that would be a much better solution to this problem. Just my two cents! I still, of course, appreciate everything you do to illuminate real issues in the pet food industry and how you fight for pet’s health in this country.

    1. JaneeS

      That’s why I believe a rotational diet is good, using different brands, different protein sources or formulations. I think it helps even out the required and changing nutritional needs of my dog. I started doing this when my girl was a pup. She’s really healthy, so I think it works for her. Now she can eat anything at any meal without having food slowly introduced, just like humans can consume different foods all the time. She can eat raw, cooked foods, canned foods, human grade or pet feed, like kibble, as a last resort. I know that not every pet is ok with food being switched and some have allergies, so this might not be possible for everyone.

  7. ann

    There are so many dog and cat food that is all for one in that it is one food for kittens/puppies, Adults and Seniors. For example Natural Balance, there is no way that one food can be balanced for a pet at different stages of their life. They all have different needs at different ages.

  8. Pet Owner

    What about Vitamins and Minerals, like “One A Day” for humans. They claim complete supplementation. But wouldn’t effectiveness vary due to the inherent differences in people, such as age, activity, metabolism, deficiencies, etc.. Maybe the PFI is using that loophole for their own purposes?

  9. landsharkinnc

    and ( unless you have revised your thinking on this ) AAFCO doesn’t ‘count calories’ the same way we do — from your article ‘Pet Food Calorie Misinformation ‘ from Jan 2012 .. this is like throwing the baby out with the bath water …. NOTHING on the processed food labels really address the dog/cats needs.

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