Complete And Balanced For All Stages
When you see Complete and Balanced on a dog food label, that should mean that the contents meet or exceed AAFCO minimum standards .
You owe it to your dog to provide top quality meals that take into account the dogs size, breed, and stage of life A senior pet obviously requires a diet with a different nutritional and caloric balance than a young female nursing a litter of lively puppies.
Best Wet Dog Food For Seniors
Wet foods offer a tasty option for senior dogs to continue receiving complete and balanced nutrition in their golden years and have several specific benefits for this age group. For example, senior dogs with advanced dental disease will have an easier time chewing and swallowing wet food than kibble.
Wet food’s high moisture content is good for senior dogs with urinary stones. “If a senior dog has recurring urinary stones, maximizing water intake by soaking kibble or replacing kibble with wet food may be ideal,” says Dr. Shepherd. The extra water intake will encourage urination, which helps reduce the risk of stone formation.
Wet food’s strong flavor and aroma can stimulate appetite in senior dogs that may feel lousy from a chronic illness, such as chronic kidney disease.
Shepherd advises dog owners to consider calorie count when feeding wet food to senior dogs. One cup of wet food has fewer calories than one cup of kibble, meaning that your dog would need to eat more wet food to maintain the proper calorie and nutrient intake. Fat content is also worth considering. “Compared with dry food, canned food tends to be higher in fat,” she adds. Not all senior dogs can tolerate a high-fat diet.
You may see various age designations on senior dog wet food labels, such as “mature adult,” “adult 7+,” or “senior.” As long as the food meets the AAFCO standards for maintenance , it will be nutritionally appropriate for your senior dog.
Our picks for senior wet dog food:
Real Whole Food For Vitality
Vitality is directly linked to the food we eat. That goes for our dogs, too. Thats why our dog food doesnt just meet minimum standards set out by AAFCO, we go above and beyond every pet food manufacturer that we know of to seek out locally produced protein sources. We never add meal, rice, corn, by-products or artificial preservatives. We know that dogs love real, whole food.
When you provide a meal produced by Rawmate you can sleep well at night knowing the gourmet delights Ralphie just wolfed down were not only delicious, but that the meal was complete and balanced in accordance with AAFCO guidelines.
For more information on the ingredients used in our Rawmate original formula, check out the Rawmate Ingredients page.
You May Like: How To Make Your Dog’s Food At Home
Aafco Life Stages And Food Categories
The AAFCO recognizes that there are different nutritional needs depending on the life stage of a pet. Each life stage needs specific nutrients to give them support.
At present, the AAFCO acknowledges that there are 5 life stages. These are:
- Adult Maintenance
- Intermittent/ Supplemental
Any pet food that claims to be suitable for adult maintenance, all life stages, gestation/ lactation, or growth must either adhere to a nutrient profile or have extensive animal feed testing.
Also, any product that claims to be suitable for all life stages or growth must have one of the following statements:
- Including growth of large size dogs
- Except for growth of large size dogs
This is vital because large breed puppies have different dietary needs compared to smaller breeds. Without these specific nutrients, it can cause significant health conditions. For example, larger breeds need added sources of glucosamine and protein. These help to support their overworked joints and maintain muscle mass.
For a dog food to be appropriate for growth and gestation/ lactation it must contain at least 22.5% protein and 8.5% fat, based on a dry matter basis. Whereas, for adult maintenance, the formula only needs 18% protein and 5.5% fat.
This shows how rigid the AAFCO is when they formulate their nutrient profiles.
Pet food stating it is suitable for intermittent or supplemental usemight not adhere to an AAFCO nutrient profile. This could be for a variety of reasons.
Should I Feed My Pet A Home Cooked Diet
Creating a balanced home cooked diet is difficult, as cats and dogs require nutrients in specific amounts to be healthy. Because of this, we recommend feeding your pet a pre-formulated food, as deficiencies can increase the risk of developing long-term health issues.
If you decide to feed your pet a home cooked diet, be sure to consult your veterinarian to develop a proper diet plan.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Senior Dog Food On The Market
Best Wet Food For Puppies
Dry food isn’t the only option for puppies. Wet food is another tasty option and offers several advantages for puppies. “Wet food can help puppies transition from a liquid diet to solid food,” says Shepherd. She adds that this transition, which should begin before a puppy is fully weaned, helps puppies accept solid food and learn how to drink water.
Wet food is also easy for puppies to eat. Without sturdy adult teeth, young puppies can struggle to munch on dry kibble, making wet food’s soft and moist texture ideal. In addition, wet food is packed with flavor, providing tasty enticement for a picky or hesitant eater. However, Shepherd recommends consulting your veterinarian if your puppy’s appetite is poor as there may be an underlying condition.
When reading a label for wet puppy food, look for the AAFCO statement that says the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for growth or all life stages. Also, remember that wet food tends to cost more than kibble and needs to be refrigerated and used within a few days to prevent spoiling.
Wet food certainly has its benefits for puppies, but it’s not a necessity. “The decision to feed dry versus wet food is very individual, depending on the individual puppy’s needs and owner’s desires and resources,” says Shepherd.
Our picks for wet puppy food:
What Is Complete And Balanced
A diet is complete and balanced if it meets the animals nutritional needs for all life stages, from birth to adulthood. A diet that is complete and balanced for one life stage may not be complete and balanced for another life stage. For example, a puppy food is complete and balanced for growth, but an adult dog food is complete and balanced for adult dogs.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Dog Food For Huskies
What If I Want A Meal Formulated Whats The Difference Between Nrc And Aafco Recipes
Your dog will do very well on any recipe that is formulated specifically for them.
Typically a certified canine nutritionist will use software to formulate that recipe. Some software formulates to NRC standards while others to AAFCOs standards.
Because AAFCO replaced NRC, animal hospitals, veterinarians, commercial food companies will use software that formulates to AAFCOs standards.
I myself license the professional level of the Animal Diet Formulator. I prefer it as it has a more comprehensive database and as such allows me to create more precisely. While others use The Pet Diet Designer to formulate to NRC requirements.
What Are Aafco Dog Nutrient Profiles
Dog food must fulfil the nutritional criteria defined by AAFCO in order to be labelled as “complete and balanced.”
There are two nutrient profiles depending on a dog’s life stage that establish these nutritional adequacy requirements, which are:
- Adult maintenance – Consists of protein , fats , minerals and vitamins
- Growth and reproduction – Consists of protein , fats , minerals and vitamins
Any product that does not fulfil both of these requirements must be labelled as “intermittent or supplementary feeding only.” These meals aren’t considered complete and balanced. Therefore they shouldn’t be used as your pet’s primary source of nutrition.
Also Check: Where To Buy Natural Balance Dog Food
How To Read A Pet Food Label
With so many dog and cat foods on store shelves, its easy for a lot of dog food labels and cat food labels to start sounding the same. When it comes to deciding on the food you will be feeding your pets, there are several things to keep in mind. Luckily, all this information can be found together in a super convenient place: the packaging label!
Learn how to decipher the common parts of a pet food label, understand AAFCO dog and cat food terminology and what to look out for and soon youll be on your way to feeding your pet a healthy meal!
What Are Aafco Nutrient Profiles
As previously mentioned, the AAFCO formulates nutrient profiles for both cat and dog foods. These ensure there is the right level of nutrients in a pet food product. Sometimes, this will be the minimum expected amount of nutrients. But, in other cases, this can be the maximum expected amount to help manage some health conditions.
The AAFCO will build their nutrient profiles based on the most frequently used ingredients, in addition to non-purified, complex materials.
Likewise, they have several subcommittees specifically tasked with updating their nutrient profiles. They will use the most up-to-date scientific studies and information.
The AAFCO always aims to ensure its profiles are scientifically correct. But they also want to remain realistic and practical for pet food manufacturers. Any dog food that adheres to the recommendations of the AAFCO must be balanced and complete.
Also Check: What Are Some Good Dog Foods
What Is Aafco And What Do They Do For Your Dog
One aspect of pet food that many dog owners find mystifying is regulation.
Some pet owners and stores believe that AAFCO, The Association of American Feed Control Officials, is responsible for approving pet foods but in fact this isnt the case.
Here are a few facts to help you understand what AAFCO does and does not do to protect you and your dog.
Dietary Requirements In Dogs
PetPartners, Inc.is an indirect corporate affiliate of PetPlace.com. PetPlace may be compensated when you click on or make a purchase using the links in this article.
Most of us were taught the importance of a balanced and nutritionally complete diet. But when it comes to knowing what nutrients our pets need to grow properly and stay healthy, we often come up short.
Many years ago, little thought or research was put into the manufacture of pet food, or the proper way to feed our pets. Eventually, in response to consumer demand, the Association of American Feed Control Officials was formed. Their primary function was to publish feed regulations and ingredient definitions. After much research, committee investigations and feeding trials, nutrient profiles for pets were developed, and guidelines established.
This is still a work in progress. Despite significant advances, the importance and proper levels of some nutrients are still under investigation. The recommendations of AAFCO, for instance, may change when additional information about nutritional health in dogs becomes available. For now, the minimum levels of nutrients that should be included in pet foods are listed. In a few cases, excess amounts of certain nutrients can be damaging so maximum levels are also listed in AAFCO guidelines.
Don’t Miss: Where Can I Buy Purina Dog Food
Best Dry Dog Food For Seniors
Typically, you might consider a senior dog food around age 6 or 7 for a large breed, and around 10 or 12 for a small, says Richardson. The right food for a senior dog depends on the specific senior and how they’re doing, says Shepherd. If they’re maintaining a healthy weight and muscle tone, their stool is well-formed, and they’re enjoying their food, you may not even need to change their diet.
That said, there are lots of dog foods tailored specifically to the needs of older dogs who may have certain health issues. “Senior diets are formulated to target some of the common ailments of older pets, such as joint health, digestive health, immune health, and possibly others,” says Swanson.
Senior dog food is usually easier to digest and may be lower in calories since older dogs aren’t always as active. Food for senior dogs may be higher in protein to help maintain their muscle, fiber to help them stay regular, and extra antioxidants to limit oxidative stress and keep their immune system healthy. You may also see omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive performance because some senior dogs suffer from cognitive dysfunction, aka “doggy dementia.”
For older dogs, a bit of extra protein is a plus. As long as your dog doesn’t have any health conditions, look for a senior dog food that’s lower in fat and calories and has extra protein beyond the AAFCO minimum of 18%.
Our senior dog food picks are protein packed and have nutritional boosters that can support an older dog’s changing needs.
What Are Aafcos Dog Food Nutrient Profiles
The Association of American Feed Control Officials developed nutrient profiles to establish minimum and some maximum nutrient concentrations for dog and cat foods.*
Although AAFCO has been around since 1906, these profiles were not created until 1991. According to the FDA, the nutrient profiles are updated as new, science-based nutritional information becomes available, most recently in 2016.
These profiles are updated when new findings from research in pet nutrition becomes available. They provide practical guidance for pet food manufacturers.
There are two dog food nutrient profiles: Adult Maintenance and Growth and Reproduction.
- Adult Maintenance: Dog foods formulated for adult maintenance have the nutrients adult dogs need. Dogs over the age of one are considered adults, except for some large and giant breeds who do not fully mature until age two.
- Growth & Reproduction: The Association of American Feed Control Officials recognizes puppies and pregnant or lactating dogs have different nutritional needs from adult dogs. As such, they developed a nutrient profile for this group.
You may see variations of these nutrient profiles on dog food packaging. A food that fits into the Growth and Reproduction nutrient profile may state its formulated for puppies or gestational mothers.
You May Like: Why Do Dogs Like Cat Food
Common Ingredients Listed On Labels
The AAFCO guidelines are based on a set of common ingredients. These are specific carbohydrate, fat, fibre, and protein sources that were chosen for their low cost.
Vitamins and minerals must almost always be added to these meals. They’d never pass AAFCO requirements otherwise. Here are some examples of the most regularly used ingredients:
Do Treats And Supplements Also Have To Meet Aafco Guidelines
In short, no. Treats, snacks, and supplements do not have to meet AAFCO requirements.
This is because AAFCO knows exactly that treats are not intended to provide a balanced diet for your dog.
However, the organization warns you not to give irresponsibly large amounts of treats to your pet. This can lead to an unbalanced diet on the one hand, and obesity on the other, and other health consequences.
Always consult your veterinarian if you want to give a different supplemental product to your dog.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Best Dry Dog Food For Diabetic Dogs
Final Product Can Be Different
When food makers test using lab analysis, they may test the nutrient content of the ingredients, rather than the final product. Ingredients can vary in their nutrient content, and food processing may change a foods nutrient composition.
In short, the final product may not exactly match whats been tested.
Aafco Writes Pet Food Labeling Guidelines
AAFCO endeavors to protect the consumer through labeling requirements, ingredient requirements and nutritional requirements. Any dog food manufacturer that wants to make the claim that their food is nutritionally complete must meet AAFCOs nutritional requirements, feeding trial requirements, or produce a food similar to one that has met these requirements.
The nutrient profiles set forth by AAFCO list minimum and maximum levels of intake for protein, fat, vitamin and mineral content of foods.
The level of nutrients is expressed on a dry matter basis. The levels of nutrients listed in the guaranteed analysis on the pet food label are expressed on an as fed basis. To convert as fed to dry matter the consumer must do some calculations. If a dry food has 10% moisture it will have 90% dry matter. If protein matter is listed as 20% on the pet food label, you must divide the 20% protein by the 90% dry matter to calculate the amount of protein on a dry matter basis.
The nutrient profiles were originally based on minimum nutrient requirements established by the National Research Council Committee on Animal Nutrition in 1991. In 1995, AAFCO changed these standards to incorporate new scientific information completed by the pet food manufacturers.
One such change was to lower the minimum protein content from 22% to 18%. This is noteworthy as protein is the most expensive ingredient on the dog food label.
Recommended Reading: What Is Dog Food Made Out Of
What Do They Do
Contrary to popular opinion, the AAFCO does not actually certify, approve, or test out pet feed to determine whether or not they align with the set standards.
Rather, they provide guides to help manufacturers out with the proper labeling of their feed, conducting feeding trials and laboratory setups to help assess their products nutrition level.
The actual feed testing is carried out by independent testing units working alongside the AAFCO.
The organization publishes a Procedures Manual yearly.
The manual outlines current guides to help out with prevailing packaging issues such as label formatting, feed analysis, nutrition claims alongside providing ingredient layout and common terminologies regarding feed packing.
Does Your Dogs Food Meets The Aafcos Requirements
As I mentioned, most U.S. states use the nutrient profiles prescribed by AAFCO. Thus, if you buy a product that meets such criteria, you can be sure that it will be nutritionally complete.
Fortunately, you can easily find out if the dog food you choose adheres to the organizations guidelines. We usually come across four types of claims:
|AAFCO claim||What it means|
|__ is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for__||This product absolutely follows the recommendations of the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles.|
|Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that __ provides complete and balanced nutrition for __.||Although the product does not meet the AAFCO nutritional requirements, it is still nutritionally adequate for the specific life-stage based on the animal feeding tests required by the AAFCO.|
|__ provides complete and balanced nutrition for __ and is comparable to a product which has been substantiated using AAFCO feeding tests||That particular pet food is very similar to another product that has passed the AAFCO animal feeding tests. However, there may be minor differences in composition.|
|This product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only||This usually applies to veterinary prescription diets.|
In the above claims, the first blank space contains the name of the dog or cat food, and the second contains a certain life stage or diet category.
Also Check: What Foods Are Healthy For Dogs