What's in Your Dog's Food?
Most humans carefully watch their diet and the quality of the ingredients in their food, but are we doing the same for our pets?
What most pet owners are not aware of, is that pet food around the world and even right here in the U.S. is not STRICTLY regulated. It is true that the FDA and SDA hold some regulatory authority over pet food brands, but at best their responsibilities are limited to:
- (Infrequent) Inspections of pet food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers.
- Pet Food investigation (only if a complaint is filed).
- Works in cooperation with the AAFCO to develop state laws that define ingredients or establishes nutritional requirements for pet food and animal feed.
- Approves or denies pet food additives or processing aids not defined by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) GRAS ingredients (Generally Recognized as Safe).
The FDA is tasked with enforcing federal laws such as the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Food Drug and Cosmetic Amendments Act, and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Of course, it is a little-known fact that they do not strictly enforce these laws, and through FDA policy, the agency allows pet food to violate some federal laws.
The SDA (State Department of Agriculture. Not USDA "United States Department of Agriculture"), is the secondary regulatory authority over pet food. All states have their laws, but some responsibilities may include (depending upon the state):
- Requiring pet food manufacturers to register each food or treat sold within state boundaries on a yearly basis, often charging fees for each registration completed.
- Inspect pet food labels for adherence to labeling laws.
- Randomly test pet food for risky bacteria and/or guaranteed analysis claims.
- Investigate consumer complaints with or without the help of the FDA.
- Inspect pet food facilities on their own or in cooperation with FDA.
- Works in cooperation with the AAFCO to develop state laws defining ingredients, and establishing nutritional requirements for pet food and animal feed.
Again, it is a little-known fact that individual SDA's are slack in enforcing laws, following the lead of the FDA.
It is a pretty big misconception that the AAFCO is in control of pet food/ treat regulations. They actually have no authority over pet food. The AAFCO is simply an organization of officials that include FDA and SDA members. The AAFCO has established the nutritional requirements of cat and dog food (to meet a complete and balanced diet claim), established legal definitions of all pet food/ animal feed ingredients, and the labeling requirements of pet food.
However, if you try to look up what AAFCO considers to be a "complete and balanced diet", you have to pay over $200 for non-members in order to get access to their "Official Publication".
So as far as what regulations say is a complete and balanced diet, we really aren't sure unless you pay the fee.
So how can you be sure your dog is getting the nutrients he or she needs?
Well, you can rest a little easier knowing that most major dog food brands here in the U.S. are nutrient-rich with acceptable ingredients. However, they are not all created equal. Some do have better ingredients and nutritional values, while others can be lacking. We certainly want to give our pet's the very best, but the price tags can sometimes get in the way. Paying a lot of money for a high-quality dog food is just out of the question for some of us and we have to stick with those adequate, but still less than stellar dog foods.
But there is another option!
Depending upon the needs of your dog, you can find "treat" vitamins and supplements to give your pet daily or every other day, to make sure he or she is getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy for longer.
If you have a larger breed like a German Shepherd or Golden Retriever that is especially prone to disorders such as hip dysplasia or arthritis, then making sure they get a good vitamin like a hip and joint is vital, even as maturing pups. Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM are great for relieving painful inflammation and lubricating joints, and ingredients like Yucca Schidigera are natural pain relievers to give your pooch just a little extra comfort.
At Lively Pets, we took all these and a few extra Omega 3's and 6's and put them into 1 awesome tasting treat. Our Hip & Joint + Skin & Coat soft chews are great for older dogs who tend to not only suffer from arthritis and stiff joints, but also from skin conditions that can leave them itchy and flaky. It's two great supplements in one! Click here to read more on Lively Pets Hip & Joint + Skin & Coat Soft Chew Treats.
Another great option would be our Omega Maxx soft chews. Most pet owners do not realize the importance of fish oil and fatty acids in their pet's diet. Your dog's immune system, hormones, heart health, and brain all rely on this delicate balance of the correct fats and oils they take in since their bodies do not readily produce these chemicals. Fatty acids like EPA & DHA help dog's skin to produce the necessary oils it needs to keep skin healthy and the coat shiny and reduce the occurrence of issues such as flaky and rashy skin, hair loss, and excessive itching due to dryness.
Not only that, but EPA & DHA are also great anti-inflammatories, making them a top choice for arthritic dogs as well. Click here for more info on Lively Pets Omega Maxx Soft Chews.
So in short, no matter how you do it or what products you choose, always make sure to be well acquainted with your dog's breed and its health tendencies, and get them the nutrients they need to fight off these painful conditions from an early age! Whether they get it from a high-quality dog food brand or from a soft chew treat, they'll thank you either way!