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The Best Food
Choosing a pet food can be overwhelming. There are too many choices and pet food terminology is not well defined or regulated. Natural. Organic. Raw. Home-cooked, Grain-Free. Holistic.
What does it all mean? The short answer is that most of these terms don't mean that much. (We'll get to the long answer and define these terms later.)
So what is the best food? Dr. Kate of Walker Valley Vet likes to keep things simple with these guidelines:
The BEST commercial pet food for your pet:
Is suited for your pet's age and activity level
Is palatable - our pets deserve to enjoy what they are eating
Is easy and affordable - if you can't buy your pet's food locally or you can't afford a certain food then that's not the right food for your pet
Is specific to any diseases that your pet has been diagnosed with such as Diabetes, Kidney, or Urinary Tract disease. This may include an exclusively canned diet for some diseases.
Dry +/- some canned for dogs
Dry and canned for cats
Meets AAFCO standards
Definition of Pet Food Terms
AAFCO: The Association of American Feed Control Officials. AAFCO works with the FDA to set standards of nutrition and safety in the pet food industry.
Meat By-Products: most parts of an animal other than its muscle tissue, including the internal organs and bones, but not including hair, horns, teeth and hooves
Natural: Not defined by the FDA for pet food. AAFCO defines it as a feed or feed ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources and not containing chemically synthetic additives. Note that vitamin supplements are synthetically derived and therefore not natural by this definition.
Organic: Must comply with the USDA's definition of organic for human food which is: produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.
Holistic: there is no definition of this word as applied to pet food. Any food can call itself Holistic.
Grain Free: Not containing grain which is the seed portion of any cultivated cereal crop used for food. Grain free foods may contain potatoes and other sources of carbohydrates so they are not necessary low-carb.
Raw: uncooked meat, organ meat, and digestible bones