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How Balanced is Pet Food?

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  1. june lay

    What is missing is what is the optimsl range for health for each nutrient. For instance, in human health 30 % fat is recommended with 10% only from saturated fats. Just one example.

    Giving a miniium is just that, does not mean optimal or balanced, and giving the max iswhen a nutrient has toxic effects.

  2. Reader

    “One more twist. The nutrient amounts are even allowed to be anywhere between minimum and maximum (if there is one) with each batch of pet food. One bag or can of pet food batch might contain the minimum requirement of nutrients… We know the manufacturer has to state the minimum amount of guaranteed analysis. And in the very next batch, that same variety of pet food might contain the maximum…”

    How can a PF consumer buy the proper formula for a dog with a specific condition or issue if the buyer isn’t even being told (at least) the range of the percentage of guaranteed analysis? I have a dog who shouldn’t have too much fat, but a younger dog who could use more weight. It is also a struggle to figure out the real carbohydrate content which can only be done by adding up the Protein, Fat, Moisture, and Fiber percents, then subtracting the total from the whole or (100%). Imagine the impact upon cat owners trying to serve the highest amount of whole protein PF possible. Or on a dog owner trying to limit extra fattening carboydrates.

    As the article also states the quality of protein (especially whether a minimum or maximum) makes a big difference in diet, which you can only estimate from the ranking of the ingredients on the label. But, wouldn’t it be important to know whether there is a minimum or maximum amount of a “by-product” protein versus a whole protein? And remember “splitting” ingredients is also permitted. We are used to reading human food analysis labels (straight up percentages of protein, fat, carbohydrates, etc.) based on total calories.

    And that’s exactly what we really need to know in PF. So there must be a method to manufacturer’s madness by making this such a difficult discovery process in PF.

  3. Ellie

    I have yet to get an explanation about why it is so much more complicated to feed a dog or a cat than a human. Supposedly we need 10 scientists and a dozen veterinarians to create a balanced diet for a dog but no one oversees the diet of humans.
    It is not difficult to grasp the basic concept of human nutrition (if one bothers to learn about it) and thankfully most Americans can buy, at a place near them, the foods necessary for a healthy diet, however, for some reason we must have a room full of authorities to tell us how to feed our pets!
    According to human nutritionists it is wrong to take a whole grain, strip it of all it’s natural nutrients, bleach it, and then replace the natural nutrients with synthetic vitamins and yet these so called experts on animal nutrition do far worse than that to the highly processed foods they have concocted to feed our pets.

  4. Pacific Sun

    Referring to Ellie’s comment above, the explanation is simple. It’s all smoke & mirrors. But the truth is complicated. Susan’s article which questions “how complete and balanced” is a PF diet reveals everything. As long as the minimum guaranteed analysis is met, then any higher amounts used, skews whatever are the actual proportions. It’s actually a very profound revelation because we’re getting even fewer assurances on PF that previously assumed. If I know there’s at least 20% protein, and 10% fat, there really could be 30% protein and 20% (but less carbohydrates). There could be bare minimums of vitamins and minerals, or there could be excessive amounts due to faulty measuring or carelessness. In fact, PF would be less risky if a guaranteed “range” was required or dogs that have issues, at least knowing the maximum would be important.

    The reason PF analysis and labeling statements are so uninformative is because (once again) pet feed is considered as livestock feed, or food fit to maintain an animal for a minimum expected lifespan. Most livestock lives a fairly rudimentary (sedentary) existence while companion pets are exercised and worked during their lifespans. They would obviously have high nutritional requirements for and enhancing their wellness and lifestyles.

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