Without doing a lot of reading, the average dog owner might not know that the dog food industry might have several areas for improvement.
In this guide we list a few ways that general safety, quality and transparency in the industry might be improved.
Let’s take a look.
(NOTE – this guide contains general information only. It does not contain any professional advice, and is not a substitute for professional advice. Speak to a qualified veterinarian or animal professional about the health of your pet/s, and specifically about your pet/s diet and feeding)
Different Ways The Dog/Pet Food Industry Might Improve Safety, Quality & It’s Transparency
1. Improved General Regulations
If we take the United States for example, the FDA has regulations in place for animal food.
‘The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled’ (fda.gov)
There’s also AAFCO which is a voluntary membership association – ‘charged by their local, state or federal laws to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies’.
AAFCO standards might relate to proper nutrients, and the FDA’s regulations might relate to safe food, food that isn’t contaminated and truthful labelling.
However, dogsnaturallymagazine.com and various other publishers note that regulations and standards still have several loopholes and limitations.
Some of these loopholes and limitations might include:
- No need to have some claims backed by scientific data (i.e. some terms used on labelling are purely marketing and don’t mean anything specific)
- The manufacturer might not have to distinguish between feed grade and human grade ingredients and meats
- It can be hard to determine if meat has been inspected and approved at a certain facility
- It can be hard to determine whether the meat comes from a diseased or sick animal
- + more
Better general regulations on pet food might clear up some of these loopholes and limitations.
A few relevant resources to read more about this might include:
- Pet Food Regulations Don’t Protect Dogs (dogsnaturallymagazine.com)
2. More Detailed Information Available On How, & Where The Food Is Manufactured & Processed
With some dog foods, it can be hard to tell:
- Where exactly the food was manufactured and processed – which country, and in what facilities
- How the food was manufactured and processed – the protocols, processes, standards, and so on
More information on these processes and the manufacturing can provide more clues as to the quality of the food, and also exactly the standards for how it’s been made.
3. More Detailed Information On The Individual Ingredients
Beyond the manufacturing and processing of a given dog food, the individual ingredients used are important.
Different countries have different regulations and standards on ingredients used – this can impact the quality of the ingredients in the final product.
Not all dog food brands source and process their ingredients in the US for example – some might source overseas and process in the US, or do both overseas.
4. Better Understanding Of Labelling By Owners
Many owners are unaware of how to interpret labelling properly.
More information for owners on how to interpret labels, along with simpler and easier to understand labelling could help with this.
Understanding words used on the packaging (what they mean), and how to interpret ingredient lists, as well as what different standard and regulation guarantees might mean may also help.
5. Better Overall Nutrition In Dog Foods, & Less ‘Fake’ Foods
Dogsnaturallymagazine.com mentions how many kibbles might be highly processed, contain synthetic vitamins, and might be incomplete and unbalanced nutritionally.
Low income dog owners still need affordable diets for their dogs, but there might need to be more thought on how this can be achieved without sacrificing nutrition as much.
Using fresher foods and ingredients might be one way, but, the practicality of that (other than from homemade diets – which can have risks and concerns without consulting a vet) can be an issue.
6. More Conclusive Studies On How Different Ingredients Impact Dog Health, Or Are Linked To Health Problems
Dogs aren’t humans, so it isn’t a surprise that different foods and ingredients might impact dogs differently than humans.
There can still be more studies, and more conclusive studies done
One example is how different ingredients might increase the risk of DCM in dogs.
Other Potential Areas For Improvement
Other Notes On Dog Food Quality, Safety & Transparency
… meat, bone meal or meat byproducts could come from any animal. Similarly, “poultry meal” signals any bird
- Meat by-products can be a good, safe, or adequate source of nutrition or unsafe for your pet to consume … It all depends upon what’s in the by-product and how it was processed
- That info isn’t usually on the label, so it’s best to call the customer care number for the manufacturer to ask.
According to wikipedia.org:
- According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), animal by-products in pet food may include parts obtained from any animals that have died from sickness or disease, provided they are rendered in accordance to law
- Proteins can differ in quality, composition and digestibility
- [They also mention the potential issues to do with pet food labelling]
- [Understand the pet standards and regulations in your country]
- Understand the difference between meat, meat by-product. and meat meal
Both consumersadvocate.org and luminer.com have good resources listed below that outline issues to do with dog food. A summary of a few of them include:
- Not all meats are equal
- Recalls have happened for some brands, and not all owners are aware of them
- Federal guidelines on ingredients and labelling might be lax and outdated, and aggressive industry lobbying can keep the status quo
- The overwhelming majority of dog food formulas either contain DCM-linked ingredients or have a meal rather than meat within the top three ingredients
- 90-plus percent of dog foods are either nutritionally unsound, potentially unsafe, or contain ingredients that may cause a dogs’ hearts to enlarge
- The FDA concludes its report by saying that it is “continuing to investigate and gather more information in an effort to identify whether there is a specific dietary link to development of DCM and will provide updates to the public as information develops.”
- At issue is the fact that determining a causal relationship between diet and DCM is complicated by numerous factors, including the age, health, and breed of the animals in the study
- Everything you read in the ingredients and nutrition facts sections on dog food packaging is regulated by the FDA, though these regulations are woefully inadequate, with loopholes large enough to drive a dog sled through. The FDA oversees every step of pet food safety from raw material sourcing to production, to the language used to describe every ingredient, to how that ingredient’s nutritional value is calculated. … these regulations have some rather disconcerting weaknesses.
Further Reading On Dog Food
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