Authored by Athena Nagel
If you are interested in upgrading your pet’s food, the number of choices can be daunting. A new bag on the shelf is unfamiliar to you and your pet alike. You want to find something that will provide all the necessary nutrients for healthy living and fit into your budget.
It can be tough to sift through what is printed on the front of the bag. It is far more essential to look at what is actually in the food than what is on it, so here are some tips to help you find the best nutrition for your budget.
USDA Certified Pet Foods vs. Private Label
Let’s look at an example of a bag of food I bought from my local hardware store. It is called “Maintenance Dog Food,” It costs $11 for a 35lb bag. I had a look at the top 5 pet food ingredients in it. The first three ingredients are corn, wheat, and soybean meal.
So, what is in this bag of pet food? We’ve all heard about people with gluten allergies, but we didn’t know that our pets could suffer from them too! Corn and wheat contain proteins that can be very harmful to a dog or cat if their body can’t process them.
It is excellent that this food contains meat. However, the first three ingredients are grains. Grains are cheaper for a pet food manufacturer to buy than animal-based proteins.
If you look up the top 5 ingredients in this pet food bag on a site like http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/, you will see that it gets a score of 2.5 out of 5 stars for nutritional value. Although this food does have animal-based proteins, if your pet is reacting to grains or is picky and doesn’t eat his food as much when it’s grain-based, then this food is not suitable for you or your pet.
Our local grocery store had a very similar product. They have a store brand that they sell in their “natural” pet food section. It has chicken meat powder as the first ingredient instead of grains but still has corn and wheat. If your dog doesn’t have an issue with grains and your budget is tight, then this could be a good option for you.
Who certifies that pet food is safe?
Another bag of dog food that I found at my local grocery store was USDA-certified. This certification tells you that the food meets the USDA’s specific nutritional standards (United States Department of Agriculture).
When you see the USDA certification on pet food, it means that the food is nutritionally balanced to meet your pet’s dietary needs. You can find this logo on the most better quality brands of dog food. If you don’t want to spend a lot on pet food, look for foods with the USDA seal.