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Comparing Food Nutritionals

May 3, 2018


What does the pet food market look like?

The global pet food industry generates approximately $80 billion of revenue every year, and the United States accounts for 30% of that revenue.  This means that the U.S. pet food manufacturing industry, including roughly 230 companies, produces a combined revenue of $23 billion (First Research, 2016). The industry is most recently shaped by trends such as home-delivered pet food, foods with preventative benefits, micro-targeted and functional pet foods, DIY pet food and new directions for proteins and ingredients.

Your clients will often turn to the confusing wealth of information on the Internet when trying to choose a pet food. You can make a difference by doing your own research, dispelling myths and deciphering the rhetoric of ingredients labels.

What advice should you give your clients on what to feed their pets?

The Internet is the fastest and easiest place to gather information. Pet owners researching pet foods often take to the web for guidance. What brand is best for their beloved pets? What ingredients are best for a healthy life?

There are a few simple tips you can provide your clients to help them through the process of choosing the right food for their pet:

  • Consider the stage of life (growth or maintenance).
  • Choose something within your budget that’s easy to obtain regularly.
  • Choose something you can feed them consistently (avoiding expensive, heavy canned foods as a daily meal if you cannot afford it).
  • Pay attention to nutritional adequacy (organic, natural, archival, raw, baked, extruded, homemade or synthetic).

Additionally, advise your client to pay close attention to the pet for 2-4 weeks after introducing a new food. If they see a problem, they can come to you for help in determining what is missing from their pet’s diet…more or less fiber, water, fat, etc.

Deciphering pet food ingredients.

Most know to look for the protein first in pet food, and meat is arguably the most important ingredient to look for in a dog food label. Simply helping your clients understand the rhetoric of an ingredients list is a great step in choosing the right food for their pets. Sometimes the language of an ingredients list can appear mysterious.

Teaching pet owners to read ingredients labels properly and to understand the meaning of the ingredients they read is a relevant contribution you can make as a veterinarian.

Where is the pet food information that you need?

Vetting companies and the people who design pet food formulations is no easy task for a veterinarian.  The ACVN directory is a limited source, and calling each individual company for detailed information is time-consuming.

Most people are unaware of the many regulations that apply to the pet food business, particularly as listed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Everything, including ingredients, testing, labeling, product handling and registration and licensing, is regulated by the AAFCO. Advising your clients to choose a pet food that has passed the AFFCO’s feeding trial and turn to the AFFCO website to gather your own information about what should and shouldn’t be in pet food as well as what works for optimum health.

The bottom line is that knowing exactly what is in every pet food brand’s product is impossible. If you plan to allow the purchase of pet food in your clinic, do your research. Choose a manufacturer. Make the calls to learn about their products and the origin of their ingredients.

Relevant Resources

 Click here for a complete understanding of the current marketing trends.

Access WSAVA’s guides to nutrition for pet owners here and here.

Firstline provides a simple infographic titled “5 Signs the Pet Food Might be Sketchy” you can post in your clinic waiting room.

For an extensive list of common questions pet owners ask about pet food click here.

You can find a client handout on conducting a limited-antigen diet for pets here

Access a printable list of the main pet food myths here.

Access a cheat sheet for reading the ingredients label here.

Contact your Covetrus representative for more information at 855.724.3461.


First Reaserch. (2016, June 27). Industry profile: Pet food manufacturing.


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