The nutritional adequacy comment that is found on the label assures the buyer that the product meets all of their pets nutritional needs. The AAFCO is an advisory body of both state and federal regulators who develop recommended standards for the nutritive contents of cat and dog foods.
The FDAs CVM works together with AAFCO in determining safe testing protocols and pet food ingredients. Pet food is not only federally regulated, but most state governments regulate pet foods as well as the labeling process through their agricultural departments.
CVM gives regulatory and scientific advice to AAFCO and the states on the issues of pet food, and CVM representatives sit on AAFCO committees and often meet with their board of directors. CVMM and AAFCO investigators unite to check out any questionable pet food claims or ingredients.
Manufacturers can show that their pet food meets AAFCOs standards as far as nutritional adequacy goes by doing either calculations or feeding trials. Calculations that are performed on a certain pet food estimate some nutrients in it. If the calculations prove that the pet food provides the right amount of nutrients to meet the AAFCO guidelines, then the pet food label will have this information printed on it.
Feeding trials point out that the product has been tested by the manufacturer in both cats and dogs under strict guidelines. If the product has proven to meet AAFCO guidelines, then it will say so on the label.
No matter what method is used, the statement for nutritional adequacy on a dog or cat food label must also define for which life stage the product is best suited. Two nutrient profiles have been established by the AAFCO for dogs and cats growth and lactation and maintenance. These two categories will easily fit the profiles of their life stages.
Each product has to meet at least one of the two profiles. A product that is intended to be given to growing puppies and kittens or for females that are pregnant or lactating must meet the AAFCOs nutritive profile for growth/lactation. Products that meet AAFCOs standards for maintenance are best suited for a non-reproducing adult cat or dog of normal activity. These foods may not be suitable for an immature, hard-working or reproducing animal. There are some pet food products that claim they are suitable for all life stages, but they must meet very stringent nutritional guidelines. Growth/lactation and maintenance are the sole nutrient profiles that have been sanctioned by AAFCO and CVM.
Clearly identified treats and snacks are not required to carry a nutritional adequacy statement. These foods, however, must meet FDA and state regulations for adequate pet food labeling. Dog chews which are made from rawhide, bone and some other parts of animals such as pig ears also come under the category of food since pets eat them. These products must be labeled with a list of all of the ingredients and the manufacturer's name, and address must be given. However, these products are not required to provide a guaranteed analysis, feeding instructions or any nutritional adequacy statement.
Dietary supplements for people seem to be growing more and more popular with each passing day. That goes the same for supplements for pets. You see many people that treat their cats and dogs just like real family. Since they want the very best for their pets, people give their four-legged creatures the kinds of supplements that they take themselves.
The FDA considers certain animal food supplements which are not approved nutrients to be unapproved new animal drugs or food additives. They are NOT permitted in pet foods. Nonetheless, buyers will look at some dog and cat food labels and see such ingredients are chondroitin and glucosamine which claim that they alleviate joint pain and stiffness, and St. Johns Wort which is believed to relieve stress and treat depression.
None of the regulatory agencies have the laborers that are required to monitor each supplement and food manufacturer. Some matters are just going to fall through the cracks, and people are going to be able to get unapproved products. Food manufacturers want to make money, and if enough of them are selling unapproved supplements, not everyone is going to get caught.
People should be cautious and always check with their veterinarians before they give their pets any supplements, whether it is alone or combined with a food product. Many people are so in love with their pets and treat them just like another human family member. They often think that if they take a certain supplement, it should be good enough for their pet to take. Sometimes that is just not the case.
In conclusion, it is best to be an avid label reader when it comes to finding the best food for your pet. When your pet is given the proper nutrition, it is sure to live a healthy and active life!