Dog and Cat Food Labels: Marketing Tricks That Cost You Money

Written by Jan on March 24, 2009 – 10:11 am

My good friend Dr. Jean Hofve, veterinarian and former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Organization, has kindly allowed me to post a great article she wrote on how marketing can obscure the truth about what’s in your dog or cat food. I think you’ll really enjoy this article and her website LittleBigCat.

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A trip down the pet food aisle these days will boggle the mind with all the wonderful claims made by manufacturers for their particular products. But what’s the truth behind all this marvelous hype? You might be very surprised…let’s take a look.

1. Niche claims. Today, if you have an indoor cat, a canine athlete, a Persian, a Bloodhound, or a pet with a tender tummy or itchy feet, you can find a food “designed” just for your pet’s personal needs. Niche marketing has arrived in a big way in the pet food industry. People like to feel special, and a product with specific appeal is bound to sell better than a general product like “puppy food.” But the reality is that there are only two nutritional standards against which all pet foods are measured (adult and growth/gestation/lactation)—everything else is marketing.

2. “Natural” or “Organic” claims. The definition of “natural” adopted by AAFCO is very broad, and allows for artificially processed ingredients that most of us would consider very unnatural indeed. The term “organic,” on the other hand, has a very strict legal definition. However, some companies are adept at evading the intent of these rules. The name of the company or product may be intentionally misleading. For instance, some companies use terms like “Nature” or “Natural” in the brand name, whether or not their products fit the definition of natural.

3. Ingredient quality claims. A lot of pet foods claim they contain “human grade” ingredients. This is a completely meaningless term Read more »

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Tags: cat, cat food, cats, dog, dog food, dogs, food labels, good cat food, good dog food, label terms, marketing, Nutrition, pet food, reading labels, what's really in pet food
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