Pet Food – “Guaranteed Analysis”: What does it really tell us?

The guaranteed analysis on pet food labels is supposed to give us some information about the nutritional value of the food. It does its job very poorly, though. The information can be very misleading for several reasons.

The first reason is water content. Obviously, as the amount of water in a diet increases, the relative amounts of the other nutrients decreases. For this reason, only diets with the same moisture content can be compared directly. This is why canned foods always appear to have lower protein contents even though they usually are higher in protein on a “dry matter” basis. (Dry matter refers to the percentages of nutrients after the water has been removed.) Nutrients reported as dry matter can be compared directly to one another but very few companies supply this information.

The second reason that the guaranteed analysis can be misleading is that it tells us nothing about the quality of the ingredients. Terms such as “byproducts” can refer to perfectly usable meat that we humans just won’t eat such as meat from the neck of the cow. Or it can refer to damaged and diseased meat that no one should eat. So where does that leave us? Basically, we can only choose a good quality pet diet based on the reputation of the company itself and hope that the information they are providing is accurate and the ingredients are good quality. This is why it is best to stick to the premium diets and hope to get what you are paying for.

For more information or to make an appointment, call Hudson Veterinary Hospital at (330)650-2929.

Dr. Mark

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