Myth #1: If a food is labeled as “premium” or “gourmet” then it is always better for your pet.

Fact: Products with these labels are not held to any higher nutritional standards than any other complete and balanced food. They do not contain any special or specific ingredients that sets them apart. “Organic” and “human grade” are also words that sound good but are not recognized in the pet food industry so these claims are also misleading.

Myth #2: The best food for your pet is one that lists “real meat” as the first ingredient.

Fact: Ingredients listed on the bag are in the order of how much weight they contribute pre-processing. Since real chicken, beef, or fish are mostly made up of water by weight they get listed as the first ingredient. The truth, however, is that after these are processed and the water removed, the “real meat” content is actually much further down the list.

Myth #3: The order of the ingredients is the most important thing to look at when reading a pet food label.

Fact: Another trick that manufacturers use is called “ingredient splitting.” For example, carbohydrates such as corn, wheat, barley, and rice will all be listed individually so they look like there is a much smaller amount of each and making the overall carbohydrate content seem much less.

The pet food industry is extremely competitive and everyone is looking for a “niche” or something that will set themselves apart from others. This doesn’t always mean that these new foods are healthier or better than some of the brands that have been around for a long time. Label reading can be difficult and is often deceptive. Our veterinarian team can help you decide what food is best based on your pet’s physical condition, lifestyle, and potential health issues.

– Dr. Cook