Dog Food FAQS

**I am a Professional Dog Groomer and have been so for over 15 years. In that time I have seen countless instances of dogs eating discount dog food or one of the brands that you see endlessly on television commercials. More often than not these are the dogs that have dry, itchy skin, hot spots and/or ear infections. AS A GENERAL RULE-if it is being advertised on television, it is not a quality food.

Who's Minding the Pet Food Store?
While the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that US pet owners are feeding their pets safe and nutritious foods lies with the Department of Agriculture and the same Food and Drug administration which oversees the safety of human food, both of these agencies turn to testing done by the American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, to set the standards for what ingredients should be permitted in dog food.
You, as a caring pet owner, will benefit from knowing just how the AAFCO arrives at its recommendations so you are able to then choose the best dog foods for your best friend.
The AAFCO Standards:
When it comes to pet food, the AAFCO has created a uniformed model and definition for the ingredients which provides a common understanding of what is in each serving, including a common labeling procedure. That way there is no confusion and no contradictions between differing brands and types of pet food. This information is provided in an annual publication: the AAFCO Manual.
The AAFCO Statement, also referred to as Nutritional Adequacy, is given to those pet foods that have passed the requirements found in the AAFCO Manual. This statement is required on all pet foods and helps to ensure that the pet food is safe. Of course, many manufacturers such as those common to the Premium foods will make strides to go above and beyond the standards set forth by AAFCO.
There are generally two types of AAFCO statements:
    * Pet foods with a statement such as "Tested..." have seen an actual trial with cats or dogs eating the product and receiving positive results.
    * Those foods with a "Formulated" statement have not seen an actual trial but the product has been manufactured to meet the recommendations and the guideline set forth by AAFCO.
To meet the AAFCO guidelines and to receive the AAFCO Statement, pet foods sold on the market have to be graded and judged before distribution. With AAFCO being the only body to grade and judge the quality of the pet food, it is important to look for the AAFCO statement located on the label.
There are two nutritional profiles used to grade dog food; Adult maintenance and Growth (used for puppies). With these profiles in mind, AAFCO determines the nutrients that are needed for each category. The nutrients must meet standards above the minimum requirement and below the maximum requirement as to avoid deficiencies and over-nutrition respectively. These profiles must be defined on the bag. There is a third profile "Fit for all life stages" which meets stricter requirements and are suitable for both puppies and adults.
The testing protocol that is used by AAFCO has come under fire recently, but the tests used have proven adequate when it comes to determining safe products and products fit for the different nutritional profiles. Dog food manufacturers follow the findings of these tests in order to deliver quality products to the consumer and, of course, to the dogs which benefit from the information and diet that is provided. AAFCO's tests are among the most trusted and one of the only tests performed on dog food and pet food overall. They have been followed and used as guidelines since the organization's formation in 1909. These protocols are enough to determine which foods go to the market and which foods are unfit to feed to our dogs.
Now, the AAFCO tests are for a relatively short amount of time compared to the length of the dog's life span. With this in mind, it is important that other factors are taken into account when deciding the best diet for your pet. While the AAFCO tests are important and even vital when choosing dog food, also keep in mind that your dog may have specialized requirements and circumstances that will affect the results. Trial testing in home is also recommended to make certain that your dog is receiving the needed nutrients without the adverse results.
The AAFCO tests do show us the performance of the food being tested, the digestibility of the nutrients in the food and how willing the dogs are to accept the food. When deficiencies are detected in the AAFCO trials, they are able to be corrected and improved, creating a superior product.
*****It is important to look for the AAFCO statement when purchasing dog food along with quality ingredients which can be found in Premium foods. While lower quality foods, those containing corn based feed, or items like bone and meat meal, may pass these tests, owners must understand that AAFCO needs to make sure lower quality and higher quality dog food are suitable for purchase.
So don't settle for the cheapest food with the AAFCO approval statement. You know your dog better than anyone else, and you know his or her special health and energy requirements. Give them the best dog foods you can, within your budget.

Persuading Doggie That the New Food Really Tastes Better

If you've learned enough about dog food to have decided that it's time to change what your dog has been eating to a more healthy dog food, you need to develop a plan of action. Your dog may have both physical and emotional difficulty in switching to a new food, because just like us, dogs do have comfort foods. So you should do your switching gradually, to spare your pet any digestive problems or stress.
Although we see many dogs as hardy creatures and marvel at what they manage to eat, the fact is that a dog's digestive system if very sensitive. It is important to gradually change a dog's diet slowly and over time. Be on the look out for any adverse effects caused by the change, and consult a veterinarian if any symptoms persist for more than a few days.
By not changing a dog's diet slowly, you may subject your pet to:

    * Stomach cramps
    * Excess Gas
    * Heartburn
    * Indigestion
    * Diarrhea
    * Vomiting
    * Refusal to Eat

Even though you have found a healthier alternative to the current dog food, you dog may not know that and as a creature of habit, would prefer the old to the new. With this in mind, the first few tries may be difficult. However, with a few simple tricks and tips, the transition should be easy.
Gradual change to a more healthy dog food is the key, so start by mixing the old and new food together in a 25% to 75% ratio of new to old. Over the next few days, slowly increase the ratio of new food while decreasing the old food. At the end of this process, the new food will make up 100% of the food bowl.
If you realize that your dog is not eating a healthy diet, then by all means make whatever changes are necessary to rectify the situation. Just do it in a way which eases the transition for your pal so that meal times still remain the high points of his or her day!