Pets make our small little world more meaningful, happy, and beautiful. Their presence brings joy even in the dullest times of our lives, and they are even the reason to relieve our stress, anxiety, and depression. Having them is such a blessing for both ourselves and our lives.
On our part, we do not know derelict on any of our duties towards them, no matter what type of pet care it is. Among the things, we tend to be extremely sensitive and selective about the food or the food companies we choose for our pets.
Sometimes people who are not aware of animal health or have very little knowledge question of why we are so sensitive and cautious about our pets’ food. The answer for both who aren’t aware or have knowledge about food sensitivity for pets is that if we can be cautious about what we or our family and friends eat or drink, why can’t we do the same for our beloved pets?
And on top of everything, there is a most important fact that pets or animals, in general, are very vulnerable in this aspect, which means their food must be selected and prepared very carefully otherwise it might give unwantable results.
Thus the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) approved 10 questions for us to question the food companies that are in the animal or pet food industry, to satisfy queries and ease both our hearts and minds regarding the food we want to feed our pets with.
To settle the suspicion in customers’ minds, a Professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Centre, Dr. Tony Buffington, DMV, Ph.D. stated that ensuring transparency and honesty between food companies and customers is very important. And their appropriate answers will build trust in the consumer’s minds as well as proving their authenticity.
Q-1. Does The Company Have Anyone Experienced Coequal To A Veterinary Nutritionist Or A Certified Nutritionist?
This question is one of the topmost important questions that need to be asked by the consumers and answered by a food company. But why does a company need to answer this question?
This is because only a certified veterinary nutritionist or someone with equivalent qualifications is trained enough to produce and formulate plans for pet food. And every animal species has its own nutritional needs, which only can be determined by someone who has enough knowledge about pets/animals and their needs according to their species, gender, age, and health status, etc, stated by Dr. Joseph Bartges, DMV, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Nutrition from the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
When a company can answer this question, this means they are taking pets’ nutritional needs very seriously and you will be one step closer to trust their products.
Q-2. Can The Company Proof The Credibility Of The Staff Of The Company, Especially Those Who Are Directly Linked To Forming And Executing Food Plans?
Though this question quite resembles the first question, there are differences between the two questions. The first question is asking if at least one person is working at the company who has experience or certification to work in pet diet planning.
On the other side, this question is asking the company if the employee who is working in these departments is certified to work or not, and if the company can prove this.
This is very essential for the company to provide the details if the experts hired by the company are involved in the processes of diet planning and nutrition evaluation. Dr. Ashley Gallagher, DMV, also agrees to this question by saying it is the most important question that needs to be answered by the food companies.
Q-3. Can The Experts Answer Our Queries Directly?
Most of the big and old branded companies already have this service to satisfy their long term customers and answer their queries, though they might not advertise that they provide this kind of service.
Having a one on one conversation with the experts even if it is by email is very helpful for pet parents and it can ease their hearts. There are a lot of queries about the products people usually buy and if the product will suit their pet even if it is done by payment, it is better to have an expert’s advice. This is also agreed by Dr. Bartges.
Q-4. Are All Your Foods And Diet Plans Tested By AAFCO And Among Them Which Are Analyzed By The Nutrient Analysis According To The Profile Of AAFCO?
This question is asking about two different processes involved before the pets’ food-making process. And if they are compatible with the AAFCO, Association of American Feed Control Officials, this is a government-approved association to provide guidelines to follow and examine companies if they are sticking by the rules provided.
One of these two is the nutrient analysis test, in this test the food ingredients are needed to be analyzed and compared with the nutrient profiles provided by the AAFCO.
The second test is the feeding trials and which of these are done by or under the supervision of AAFCO. If a company does the feeding trials and provides its customers with the details, this shows the company’s authenticity and commitment towards their customers and the products they are providing them with.
Though most of the companies just may do the first test and leave the feeding trials as they are very expensive to perform. So we need to be aware of it, also this is because if a feeding trial is done by the AAFCO, it simply means the products the company is selling are equal to gold and platinum standards as said by Dr. Buffington.
Q-5. What Are The Quality Measures The Company Has Taken To Ensure The Quality And Safety Of The Products?
Quality control is substantial for a company to have, it can ensure consumers about the safety and quality of the products and it can also build a trustful image for the company.
A quality control measure is to ensure the safety and quality of the ingredients and their nutrient values from the point of a diet plan development to the manufacturing process, in the manufacturing process the raw materials should be kept separately from the cooked products.
There should be strict controls to avoid cross-contamination, allergen, and pathogen contamination; this should also include the safety and hygiene of the manufacturing machines and the safety of the packaging of the products. If a company can ensure this there is no bigger proof of their honesty says Dr. Bartges.
Q-6. Where Do All The Work Take Place, Especially Food Analysis, And Diet Planning?
Knowing where the food that you are feeding your pet and how they are made is a big assuring point for you as a pet parent. If a company is branded or has a large manufacturing scale, then these companies usually have its manufacturing plants, thus they can easily ensure you with their products.
But there are some companies which do not have huge production chains, some of these may try to cut production cost by using a third-party plant, these have many disadvantages, for example, the safety of the production process might not be as per the companies that own thor plants. If that plant is a third-party plant then there is a huge chance of cross-contamination as there may be productions for other companies too, thus if these are not controlled strictly the company can be at a tremendous disadvantage.
Q-7. Are The Factory Or The Manufacturing Plant Open For Visit?
This is another excellent way for the companies to have transparency towards their customers and also can build a perfect image for the company. It can also attract new consumers too.
If the plant is open for visitors and consumers can enter to see and go through the process of manufacturing and packaging, it can enlighten the consumers about the products they are using, and the trust bridge between them and the company will grow stronger, recommended by Dr. Gallagher.
Q-8. Can The Company Provide A Full Analysis On The Products And Their Nutritional And Digestive Values?
This is a good way to know if the product you are using is suitable for your pet and what are the pros and cons you can have while feeding it to your pet, as it has more information than the label on the products’ package. As it is a guaranteed analysis that helps a pet parent.
One should look for other companies or brands if a company does not provide you with it or doesn’t have it, stated by Dr. Bartges.
Q-9. Do You Provide A Detailed Caloric Value Per Cups For All Your Food Products?
It is necessary for a product packaging to have this kind of information, like the caloric value per cup or kg or in any other standard measurements. This can help you determine the diet for your pet as it’s very important to maintain the health of your pet and have control over its weight.
Though it is very unlikely, sometimes some companies or some products do not have these labels if a company fails to do so, then start considering other company products for your beloved pet, recommended by Dr. Bartges
Q-10. Can Your Company Give Detailed Explanations About The Researches Taken Places For Diet Plans And Is There Any Renowned Magazine Or Newspaper, Especially Specialised In Animals Have Written About These Researches?
This just likes icing on the cake for a company to have any research and scientific trials published by a known newspaper or a renowned magazine. But mostly, it might not be found, and there is nothing wrong with it as it’s very time-consuming and costly to do these researches and trials and to add up with coordinating these with the publishers. So if you can find them, it is not a point worth leaving the product for another. This is also agreed by Dr. Bartges.