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Vets discuss potential pet food pitfalls

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Dec 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-04 20:16:21-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Projections for this year show Americans are on track to spend $60 billion on their pets, and pet food is among those costs.

With hundreds of options to choose from, it can be tough to determine which pet food is best for your pet.

Dr. Sarah Abood, a doctor of veterinary medicine and a Ph.D., said people may not be as informed as they could be when it comes to pet food.

“Most pet owners don’t know that companies are not required by law to test the food before they put it out on the market,” Abood said.

There are many choices, from grain-free options to those featuring raw meat. Abood said not to let marketing and fads sway you pet food decisions.

“There are about thirty-some nutrients that dogs and cats need, and they need nutrients–not ingredients,” Abood said.

She said owners need to see through the hype in order to truly pick the best food for their pets.

“The raw meat diet, the homemade push, the gluten free and the grain free–they are definitely marketing ideas,” Abood said.

Randall Carpenter, a doctor of veterinary medicine at Family Friends Veterinary Hospital, said among all the options, steep price differences may be the most confusing.

“Dog food, in particular, varies in price, you may be able to get a 50-pound bag for $22, or you may get a 28-pound of dog food for $80, so there’s a huge variation in price, there can be a huge variation in quality,” Carpenter said

Abood said when you’re approached with the never ending aisles and rows of choices, there’s one thing guaranteed to be on every bag.

“That nutritional adequacy statement tells us if it was formulated or if it went through a feeding test,” Abood said.

The nutritional adequacy statement can be found on every bag of dog and cat food sold in the United States. It reveals the product has been approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.

“The guidelines for a company come from AFFCO, and one way that they can do it is they can take this finished product, and they can take a sample of it and have it analyzed in a laboratory and then they look at the report and then they match it up.”

Veterinarians agree that in the end it comes down to good pet parenting, doing what you think is best for your animals while monitoring their health and wellness.

Abood said: “It’s always about offering something to your animal and watching your animal and seeing how your animal does and if they don`t do well with something, no matter what your friend or what the breeder says or how much marketing, you’ll say, ‘Well that`s not going to work for my animals so I`m going to transition over.’”