Consumer demand for quality pet food is on the rise due in large part to recalls.
Pet parents are now willing to spend extra dollars for a premium food.
Yet which ingredients are better?
Organic Chicken or Chicken?
Chicken or Chicken Meal?
Lamb or Lamb Meal?
These are all valid and common questions that many pet parents have.
In some cases, it may come down to personal preference or perhaps price.
Rest assured ALL of the above examples are exponentially better protein sources compared to Chicken By-Product, Meat Meal, Ground Yellow Corn etc.
What Is Meal?
AAFCO defines meal as “an ingredient which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.”
Therefore Chicken Meal is ground up chicken meat that has been dried to a moisture level of roughly 10%.
The dried concentrate will consist of 65% Protein and 12% Fat.
By comparison, Chicken is 70% water, 18% protein and 5% Fat.
Pound for pound Chicken Meal has a much higher protein density compared to Chicken.
Generally speaking, Meal will have a higher protein percentage because the water is removed.
Keep in mind it MUST be species specific, with no by-product attached.
You never want to see Meat Meal, Meat and Bone Meal, Poultry Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, etc.
Organic Pet Food
If you choose to buy Organic just be aware of the following distinctions.
1) To claim a food is 100% Organic the ingredients must be 100% organically produced. Since AAFCO requires vitamins and minerals to be present in the food, and they are not considered organic, pet food can not be labeled 100% Organic.
2) To claim a food is Organic the ingredients must be 95% organically produced. Additionally, all Organic ingredients must have Organic attached to the ingredient in the ingredient list or have an asterisk attached which is defined on the bag.
If a pet food displays the USDA Organic seal it MUST adhere to the above requirements.
3) If a pet food uses the term Made With Organic Ingredients it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. The same rules apply in terms of labeling as above. It is permitted to display the seal of the certifying body but not the USDA Organic seal.
4) A manufacturer may market a food as having Some Organic Ingredients or something similar if there is less than 70% organic ingredients. The organic ingredients must be labeled properly however they are not permitted to display the seal of any certifying agent.
In all cases, water and salt are allowed and does not factor into the classification.
Premium Pet Food
As a baseline rule of thumb ALWAYS stay away from foods that contain Corn, Wheat, Soy as protein sources.
When you see those listed within the first few ingredients it is a fair assumption that the majority of the ingredients are low quality.
If you see ANY By-Products present chances are the rest of the ingredients are low quality.
You absolutely MUST see a species-specific fat.
Animal Fat is a clear indication the other ingredients are not premium quality.
In addition, you ALWAYS want to see a species-specific protein source.
Regardless of the ingredients if you see things like BHA, BHT, Propylene Glycol stay away.
All premium pet products will have Mixed Tocopherols(Vitamin E) as the main fat preservative.
Pet Food Ratings
Hands down the best resource for rating dog food is Dog Food Advisor.
The analysis will break down all the ingredients, preservatives, and even compare the dry matter.
It also includes any recalls associated with each formula.
In total over 5463 dog food products have been reviewed making it the most robust, independent review site online.
Cat food is not rated however if a particular brand has a substandard overall dog food rating, it’s fair to say the cat formulas will be similar.
Personal preference, price, and ingredients are typically the 3 main factors when comparing quality pet food.
Ultimately each pet will benefit from any of the premium ingredients and that is the primary goal.
Species-specific meal gives the most bang for the buck while providing a much more nutrient dense kibble.
Organic is certainly not easy on the wallet, yet does provide a higher degree of probability antibiotics, or growth hormones were not used.
No matter which pet food you do choose remember to ask a few basic questions.
Who manufactures the pet food?
Where are the ingredietns sourced from?
Does the brand have a history of recall?
What is the overall rating of the food you are feeding compared to other premium foods?
If you answer these 4 basic questions you stand the best chance of choosing a food that is safe, healthy, and gives your pet children the best possible chance to thrive!
Was This Helpful? If so I would greatly appreciate it if you would comment below, and share on Facebook.
P.S. Would you like to learn about the safest, freshest, pet food you can get your hands on? If so send me an email with the heading Pet Food Info and I’ll send you out more info ASAP!
“I can teach you how to enhance the lives of your pets and help you build a business around your passion for companion animals!”
If you enjoyed this post on, Compare Quality Pet Food Ingredients share, and comment, please.