Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

April Newsletter
Focus on Nutrition: label reading

How do you choose a “good, healthy food” for your pet? We all want what’s best for our animals, and one thing we can do every day to keep them healthy is to provide them with good nutrition. We have a big advantage in pet health: we feed them, and that old saying “you are what you eat” goes for our pets too!

The most important part of choosing a “good” diet is to know how to read the bag. Here are just a few things to look for, including the AAFCO* statement, “light” diets and the ingredient list.

The AAFCO statement: This is usually under the ingredient list, and part of it will tell you the life stage the food targets. Wording on this is very important, and if it says for “all life stages” or “growing animals as well as adults” then this is will contain a higher calorie/higher fat diet than regular adult diets to meet the requirements of growing animals. Do not feed something like this to an overweight animal if your goal is weight loss. There is no AAFCO for weight loss, so a good start is something that is just for adult animals!

If your goal is weight loss, then you want to look for the words “light”, “lite” or “low-calorie” on the bag. These foods are under a certain calorie requirement to put those words on the bag. Anything else (e.g. weight management, indoor) can be misleading, and often contain even 100 calories more per cup than light diets.

The ingredient list: This can’t be dealt with in one article, but there is one important thing to remember: “Chicken” can contain skin and bone as well as meat. If your goal is to find meat as your first ingredient, look at the ash content. If it is around 5% or less, then you have a good amount of meat in the diet. If ash is more than 10%, there is not as much meat as you think in that diet.

Stay tuned next month for more discussion in choosing a good diet for your pet. After all, despite it being a cliché, a good diet is the building block for a healthy life! And we want to help you discover what a “good” diet really means.

*AAFCO Association of American Feed Control Officials