Nutrition Terms

Image of a couple reading the nutrition facts on pet food.

As pets have become more important to their owners, what the pets are fed has become more important as well. Most pet owners are concerned about the quality and nutrition level of the food they are feeding their furry family members. There are now hundreds of pet foods available to the consumer. How do you know what to believe regarding pet food claims?

Many pet foods line the shelves of groceries and pet food stores, each with their own marketing claims. Some of the terms used have a definite meaning to nutritionists, some are just marketing.

Terms that have a legal meaning are natural, organic, and by-products. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) defines these terms and publishes recommendations for pet foods.

Natural refers to a "feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal, or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process."

Organic has been defined as " a formula feed or a specific ingredient within a formula feed that has been produced or handled in compliance with the requirements of the USDA National Organic Program." Under this category are three levels:

  1. 100% organic - must have 100% organic ingredients and additives, including processing aids
  2. Organic - at least 95% of the content is organic by weight
  3. Made with Organic - at least 70% of the content is organic

By-products are defined as " non- rendered clean parts of carcasses such as heads and viscera (organs), free from fecal content and foreign material except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice."

The important thing to know is that any food labeled Natural or Organic is not necessarily a good food, and that a food with by-products can be an excellent food. Natural substances can still be very dangerous; cocaine, heroin, arsenic, and cyanide are all natural but, of course, they are not good for you. Organic foods may contain ingredients that are free of pesticides, but the food may not be balanced or nutritious.

Some pet food companies suggest that foods that contain by-products are of a lower quality, but the term doesn't deserve this reputation. In actuality, by-products are often a good source of vitamins and minerals.

In summary, some claims by pet food companies are just marketing, without real science to back up their advertisements. How do you know which food to use? The best general advise is to choose a food that has been formulated with AAFCO standards and had feeding trials. Your veterinarian can help you in this choice.

AAFCO.org

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

9:00 AM-6:00 PM

Tuesday:

9:00 AM-8:00 PM

Wednesday:

9:00 AM-6:00 PM

Thursday:

9:00 AM-8:00 PM

Friday:

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Saturday:

9:00 AM-3:00 PM

Sunday:

Closed

  • "We've been with TVVH for over 25 years. Could not imagine going elsewhere. In addition to their professional expertise is the consistent human element; their very real kindness and caring. Office staff, technicians and doctors all are exceptional."
    Linda Barlotta
  • "I recently moved to the area and adopted a rescue, so both of us were strangers. Dr. DeVerna was highly recommended by a dear friend who used the group. We were seen by Dr. Jeri-Ann DiPaola, a warm, knowledgeable professional--very accessible--I had tons of questions, all answered. The entire atmosphere was very friendly and clearly a place where pets and their owners can be comfortable. The office staff and assistants were terrific and made us feel very welcome. Thanks to all."
    Anonymous
  • "The staff and doctors are amazing. The older my Shih Tzu gets the more difficult and snappy he has become. Your doctors and staff are kind, gentle, and professional. You don't make me feel like I have a bad dog or I raised him wrong. I feel you care not just for me dog but for me (who can be a bit neurotic about my dog). Your tech staff and doctors...even the front desk staff are the best!!"
    Rebecca D
  • "I not only use Three Village Veterinary for my personal animals, but frequently recommend them to my grooming customers as well. I trust them explicitly and value their professionalism, but above all their compassion... all the doctors there are great & the fact that they put up with my MANY emergencies (& my neurosis) makes them my fav. Love you guys <3"
    Melissa Van Horn