Ingredients Matter

Ingredient quality is a major factor in determining just how much nutrition your pet actually receives from the food they eat. Pet food manufacturing is a multi-million dollar industry that operates just like any other for-profit business. In order to make money, they must sell products at a price higher than the cost of production.

Some pet food manufacturers are reluctant to reveal the exact sources of their product's ingredients. As loving pet owners we have a right to know exactly what our pets are eating. In order to make informed decisions about which food to purchase you must first learn the basics of reading the ingredient label.

Ingredient definitions and labeling terminology is chosen by the AAFCO (Association of the American Feed Control Officials). Their wording can seem obscure but with an understanding of how pet foods are manufactured, it is easy to determine ingredient quality.

These are some basic guidelines on ingredients and labels:

  • When reading an ingredient label the major ingredients are listed before the source of fat. All ingredients after the source of fat are in much smaller quantities.
  • Ingredients are listed in order of pre-cooked weight. The weight of whole meat before cooking can contain up to 70% water. While it is nice to see whole meat as the first ingredient after the water is removed by the cooking process, that same meat falls farther down the ingredient list making the second or third ingredient more prominent than the first.
  • Concerning animal proteins, meals and fats you must notice if the animals are specifically named. Examples of this are Salmon, Lamb Meal or Chicken Fat. If the animal is not specifically named, the product can be any combination of fish, mammal or foul and can vary greatly from batch to batch.
  • Food Grade (Human) or Feed Grade (Animal) ingredients are determined by the FDA, AAFCO and State Agricultural Departments. Feed Grade ingredients are those deemed not fit for human consumption. They include expired meats from markets, defective or moldy food and by-products. Currently the AAFCO does not allow labeling of ‘human quality ingredients' on pet food but a simple call to the manufacturer usually lends the answer.
  • Carbohydrates originate from grains such as rice, wheat, barley, oats and corn. Alternative sources are potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca or peas. Some commercial kibbles contain 50 percent or more carbs. This makes it extremely important to choose ingredients of the highest quality. Grains can provide useable nutrients and energy when in their whole form.
  • Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be digested. The digestive tract of the cat and dog is not designed to process these commercial diets with such high levels of carbohydrates therefore; a good quality fiber is needed to produce firm stools.
  • Preservatives are necessary for commercial products to maintain shelf life. You want to see natural preservatives such as mixed tocopherols, Vitamin E or C. Chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin are proven to cause cancer and tumors. These unnecessary additives are to be avoided at all costs.

Do not be swayed by enticing pet food commercials, marketing claims or pictures of juicy cuts of meat and fresh vegetables on packaging. The ONLY way to know what your pet is really having for dinner is to READ and UNDERSTAND the ingredient label.

Against The Grain Pet Nutrition has compiled a list of commonly used commercial pet food ingredients and their definitions. We explain why they are beneficial, controversial, poor quality or hazardous. If you have a question about any ingredient, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Against The Grain Pet Nutrition is a company that does things differently. We are a small business that is excited about offering pet owners better choices in pet nutrition. We believe that choosing appropriate pet food (be it commercial, raw or home prepared) is the most important factor in any pet's preventative health, convalescence and longevity.  Our name - Against The Grain - reflects our strong passion to provide pet owners with the knowledge to make healthy decisions about pet care even if we go ‘against the grain' of popular thinking.

To contact us:
1024 County Road 109
Montevallo, AL 35115

Phone: 205-665-9026
Fax: 205-665-5683
[email protected]