How To Ensure Your Pet Food Has Quality Ingredients
Every animal lover pays a lot of attention to what they're feeding their creatures. No risks are taken, and only the best grub will suffice – at least, that's the intention.
Of course, it's easier than ever to research companies today and how their products are made. Regulations are tightening, and technological tools are giving pet owners more agency in gathering information on the UK's best-known or obscure brands. There's nowhere to hide from scrutiny today, and that goes double when pet owners are double-checking their creature's well-being.
Some pet owners will read positive reviews for pet food and assume that's all the checks they need to do. However, there's more to think about here if you want your furry friends to enjoy the best ingredients. Here's what to consider.
Look for Natural Foods
High-quality pet foods often contain whole foods. These are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Examples include whole grains, fresh vegetables, and quality proteins such as chicken, fish, or beef.
Natural foods are richer in nutrients than processed ones, providing the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your pet needs in higher quantities. Pets can find that the food tastes nicer and has better texture, too.
Look for reputable manufacturers here. Firms like Encore are well-regarded, offering pet food made from 100% natural ingredients and featuring more protein-rich meat. Their products don't feature unnecessary fillers, additives, or cereals and are known for prioritising the quality of their natural ingredients.
Avoid pet food with artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin, as well as artificial colours and flavours often added to make the food more appealing. These ingredients have little nutritional value and may even be harmful to your pet's health. Natural pet food is best.
Certifications and Standards
Pet food isn't a product that anybody can make. Certifications and compliance with recognised standards govern its manufacturing.
One such certification is the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) guidelines, which ensure nutritional adequacy. Yes, the UK has still retained some UK laws in its domestic policies!
Not everything is entirely rosy here. For example, some providers of plant-based pet food abide by FEDIAF guidelines, and others don't. Some pet owners swear by the diet change, too, but there's still some debate around their viability in some circles. If FEDIAF guidelines are being met, it should clear up any confusion.
There's also the Soil Association to consider. Don't be fooled by the name, as they also help set high standards with sustainability, pet food, and general animal welfare. Any foods they've certified as organic can be trusted.
Understanding Pet Food Labels
Pet food labels in the UK are regulated by the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA), which mandates that all ingredients be listed in descending order by weight. Ingredients at the top of the list are present in the highest quantities.
Be sure to look for specific ingredients, such as chicken or beef, rather than vague terms like 'meat', 'by-products', or 'animal derivatives'. The more specific the label, the easier it is to determine the quality of the proteins in the product.
Label information can change, too, so it's important to keep checking it. At the end of 2021, one common chemical found in pet food was ruled unsafe, with experts advising pet owners to avoid it. Research is ongoing, and your knowledge should evolve.