Ask Dr. Anna: complete and balance pet diet

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Several people have asked me to comment on a recent article circulating on the internet titled Top 7 worst bad food brands. All pet food diets have to meet specific standards set up by the Association of American Feed Controls Officials (AAFCO) to be able to manufacture and sell within the United States. All pet foods must be complete and balanced and it must specify for a life cycle the food is intended to be feed. These two items and reading the AAFCO label are far more important than looking at the actual ingredients. Ingredients are important but you must realize that not all ingredients can be utilized by pets as in people.

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

There are three ways for a diet to be declared complete and balanced. Laboratory analysis on the actual pet food, mathematical calculation based on nutritional information or a feeding trial where the food is feed to animals over a period of time. Just because a diet has been formulated and says it is complete and balanced doesn’t guarantee that the pet is benefiting from the ingredients. In my opinion, the best foods to feed are foods that have been determined complete and balanced by a feeding trial! The method of determination is always stated on the AAFCO statement which is somewhere on the bag.

The second important aspect, is to determine which life cycle category is appropriate for your pet and to feed that type of food. The four life stages that have been determined by AAFCO are adult (maintenance), growth (puppy/kitten), reproduction (pregnant animals) and all life stages. There is no profile for senior or geriatric patients that has been determined by AAFCO. Food that is labeled senior/geriatric is a gimmick used for marketing terms. Many dog foods fall into the all life stages category, which means that it is appropriate for all stages. These foods have to meet higher requirements in order to sustain growing and pregnant animals and therefore contain more than needed for an adult animal. In my opinion, it’s better to tailor the food to each individual animal based on their actual life stage and feed for growth, maintenance or reproduction instead of all life stages. If you’re wondering ‘How Long Are Cats Pregnant‘, you can click that link to learn more. Animals such as cats and dogs need a healthy diet, particularly if they are pregnant or have just given birth so this is something to keep in mind!

Here are a few other facts to keep in mind. I know a lot of people switch brands of foods, so if you do this it is important to feed according to the guild lines on the bag of food, because calorie content can vary 200-300 kcal/cup between different diets. It’s best to feed according to the guild lines on the bag of food. The amount listed is a range that is to be feed per day. I also recommend staying away from pet foods containing dyes as these serve no nutritional value for your pet and only makes the product look more appealing to us fur parents. There is no documented health benefits to feeding a grain free diet. Grain free does not mean that it is low in carbohydrates. These diets are usually substituting a lower quality carbohydrate to meet energy requirements. All natural is not the same as organic. To be listed as organic there are very strict guild lines that have to be met. There are over 50 dog and cat food products currently on recall lists, so please check for a current list of recalled products. If you store your food in another container always keep the product code and lot number of the food for recall purposes.

Please e-mail me with your questions at and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.


1 Comment on "Ask Dr. Anna: complete and balance pet diet"

  1. Thanks for the grain free bit…as a fellow vet, nothing irks me more than the “dog food fads” like grain free!

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