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TUFTS: Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Pet’s Food

s a veterinary nutritionist and someone who is passionate that pets get the best nutrition possible, it pains me to see owners standing in the pet store carefully reading ingredient lists.  And this is all too common.  In fact, our research studies have shown that most owners say that ingredients are the most important factor in selecting their pets’ food.  The problem is that the ingredient list is one of the most useless aspects of the pet food label!  While there are some regulations on the format of the ingredient list, it doesn’t tell us anything about the quality of the ingredients or if they’re in the right proportions. And the ingredient list is often used for marketing (Think those blueberries and artichokes are adding nutritional value to your pet’s food?  Think again!)

Given the thousands of options for pet foods, it is confusing to separate the good ones from those that just advertise that they are good. Many owners turn to pet food rating websites to help.  Unfortunately, these ratings are generally useless when it comes to helping pet owners to pick the best foods  because they rank foods either on opinion (rather than scientific knowledge) or on criteria that don’t ensure a good quality food (including the ingredient list)

So, what’s the conscientious pet owner to do?  Talking to your pet’s veterinarian should be the first step. Your veterinarian can help you select a food that meets your pet’s nutritional needs during different life stages, based on body condition and activity level, and if medical conditions should arise.