These days all the pet food controversies, conspiracies and misleading marketing schemes can make it difficult to know which food products to trust. In the pet food industry even companies with the most adorable commercials, and convincing customer reviews might be inaccurately representing the quality of their products. Learn what claims to look out for when considering a pet food brand, so that you can help protect your cat or dog by giving them the best nutrition.

Packaging Claims

  • “Allergen-free” –This does not actually exist, since any ingredient can cause an allergic reaction in some creature for some reason. Rotating natural pet foods are the best way to avoid reactions; dogs and cats that are fed the same product repeatedly can actually develop nutritional allergies.
  • “Cold-Processed Canned Pet Food” – This implies that the product has been heated only to 180 degrees Fahrenheit so as to “kill off” any bacteria, without removing any of the natural enzymes that are beneficial to the animal. This however is a false claim, since canning most foods necessitate pressure and heat to at 240-250 degrees for products containing meat, seafood, dairy, or poultry.
  • “Developed by Veterinarians or Breeders, etc.” –Such a statement misleads prospective buyers into believing that the product must be reliable since it was crafted by professionals in the field. However, unless the breeders or vets involved are certified pet nutritionists (with credible writings to prove their knowledge), their positions do not necessitate a significant enough understanding of an animal’s nutrition requirements. A manufacturer could merely have discussed their product with a veterinarian or breeder, paid them for their advice and then claimed that it was designed or developed by professionals.
  • “Real Chicken” – This assumes that all chicken by-products may not be healthful for pets, when in reality wild animals would consume almost the entire bird. There are certain benefits to eating the skin, cartilage, bones and organs in poultry.
  • “Grain-Free Products” –Using “no grains” as a selling point implies that grains are unhealthy for a pet. The real culprit in poor health food are low-quality starches. Food that claims to be “grain-free” might be filled with tapioca or potato, both of which have little nutritional value. It would be better to choose a product that included (and admitted in the ingredients list) whole grains such as brown rice, corn or wheat, rather than trusting a generic promise of “grain-free” food that might be filled with unhealthy starches.
  • “Tapioca” –Ingredient lists including tapioca might seem to suggest that this is a helpful substitute for corn, or other controversial grains (despite the fact that corn and wheat have been a life source for humans these many centuries). However, tapioca is often chemically modified, and has almost no nutritional value, proving to incur a variety of health problems.

Don’t Be Fooled by Advertising Claims

Consider this handful of the many, overused claims printed on many mainstream pet-food products, to steer clear of false information.

“Preserves nature’s delicate balance.”

“Ensures optimal wellness.”

“Only premium natural ingredients.” These three kinds of claim are not substantive. The company doesn’t define what those words actually mean in relation to the product. Nor do they prove how the foods really preserve wellness, or that they only have “natural” ingredients, especially if the product includes heat-processed grains (which are unnatural) as most do.

“Toxin-free.” Cooking foods without preservatives unfortunately creates toxins, and since these exist both naturally and synthetically, 100% toxin-free food does not exist.

“Natural flavors.” Even ingredients such as MSG can be considered “natural flavors;” it does not mean such elements promote good health.

“No animal fat.” Animal fats are a natural part of what carnivores would consume in the wild. Only vegan diets would avoid animal fat, and that would not be advisable for any naturally carnivorous creature.

“No by-products.” This is often false advertising, since such claims often appear on products that also use ingredients such as brewer’s rice, yeast or egg products. All of these are considered by-products.

“Low protein will limit kidney strain.” No scientific proof supports the claim that high-protein diets cause kidney strain. Wild animals, whose diets are very high in meat and protein do not experience kidney disease the way domestic pets do.

NOTE: Also look out for products containing ingredients that are not legally approved for pet consumption, such as garlic oil, rosemary, beta carotene, and spirulina, etc. Just because an element is beneficial to the human body does not mean the same applies to canines and felines.