Deciding what to feed your pet is one of the most important decisions pet parents can make. As humans, we have the freedom to choose what we put in our bodies, and as such, food labeling is strictly controlled to ensure we have all the information we need to make informed choices. Our pets on the other hand, rely on us to make this decision for them, and thankfully there is a huge array of pet foods on the market to choose from.
However, it would appear pet food labeling may not be as transparent as its human counterparts, as was highlighted on a recent episode of BBC’s ‘Rip Off Britain – Food‘.
This show reported the difficulty many pet parents have with identifying exactly what ingredients go into the pet foods we see on the shelves. For example, a food may be advertised as ‘chicken and rice’ but in fact, may contain just a minimum of 4% chicken. That leaves a whopping 96% of the food that can be composed of any number of animal and plant proteins.
This flexibility helps to keep costs down for the manufacturer and potentially the customer, by allowing the recipe to be changed depending on which meat and meat meals are cheapest at that time. However, for diligent pet parents that want to control the protein source they give their pet, such foods may be totally unsuitable.
Pets with a range of conditions, may need to be placed on an elimination diet to discover if they are sensitive to consuming a particular substance, and such foods may be purchased in all good faith, without the knowledge that ‘chicken and rice’ doesn’t necessarily mean the food is composed of just those two ingredients.
Many pet parents prefer to give their pet a varied diet by rotating the protein source they feed to their pets. In doing so, it is believed that the development of food sensitivities can be avoided. There is a train of thought that if an animal is fed one food for a long time, the body can become sensitised to those ingredients and therefore by offering for example, chicken for a few weeks, and then fish for a few weeks, and so forth, food sensitivities can be avoided.
Thankfully there is hope, and I was so pleased to come across two foods that totally buck this trend.
AATU dog foods contain a single animal protein source, either free run duck, chicken or fish and an amazing 80% meat. As facultive carnivores, this high meat content is evolutionarily appropriate for our canine companions. It also contains some great herbs and botanicals.
Challenge pet foods have a great range of single protein salmon based dog foods that allow pet parents to be confident in the source of their dog’s nutrition. Their sister company, Sea Treats offers MSC certified fish treats so even your pet’s treats are free of unknown ingredients.
That both of these companies have such clear, transparent labeling is a sign that the pet food market is changing and I hope that pet parents will start to demand clearer pet food labeling information. In the meantime, I believe we should all show our support by voting with our pockets!