As pet guardians, most of us want only the best for our furry friends – and that usually includes a desire to feed them good food. Many will actively research and investigate the background of any potential food choices, but some will simply rely on the bold statements made by pet food companies on their packaging, correct in the belief that their foods must have passed regulatory tests and met certain standards in order to end up in the pet food aisles.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets out the nutritional levels required by pet foods. Many manufacturers undertake feeding trials in order to ensure that their foods meet the AAFCO standards, and consumers understandably tend to feel assured by this.
The AAFCO also permits pet food companies to substantiate their nutritional adequacy statements by reference to laboratory analysis. Many companies will brag about their products being proven as a result of trials but the reality is that such trials are usually laboratory based, last only six months, may include as few as eight animals, and utilize one breed of purpose breed animal that never sees the light of day.
The reality is that such feeding trials are, in fact, totally unnecessary. It is possible to analyze and test a product in a laboratory without recourse to live animals, in order to establish the nutritional content. There are even websites and software which list every conceivable ingredient and the established nutritional breakdown for each – all one needs to do is plug in the recipe, and you can print off a list of every vitamin, mineral and nutrient it contains which can then be assessed and tweaked in order to meet the AAFCO’s demands.
Many companies will defend their use of laboratory animal testing by stating that only by feeding their products to a controlled sample of specimen pets can they truly establish the nutritional adequacy of their products. This is a fallacy. The AAFCO has already undertaken numerous investigations to establish the nutritional requirements for complete or supplemental foods, for all life stages of your pet, and these are published at great length for anyone to review and apply to their products.
However, there are obviously some aspects of pet food which cannot be tested with the use of a computer, such as palatability and flavor. These will clearly require the involvement of live animals as even if a product meets all the nutritional standards set out by the AAFCO, it does not automatically follow that any animal will willingly eat it.
At Allprovide, we have six dogs of various breeds and sizes in our offices – from a 10 lb Chihuahua (who of course rules the pack) to a 180 lb Great Dane puppy (who is still growing and falling over his huge paws) and Dr Judy Morgan, our consulting veterinarian, has nine dogs of her own – all are our food testers. They have taste tested our products at every stage from start to finish, and all our recipes have to be puppy approved, otherwise they don’t make the final cut.
We insist on only feeding the best, and all our ingredients are selected with our pack in mind. Account is taken of how voraciously the food is devoured, or not as the case may be, and our recipes are tweaked and tested again and again – much to the delight of the pack! Even the humans have been known to grab a spoonful too to demonstrate how great Allprovide tastes!
Each of our collective dogs and cats may have their own preferred protein, or specific dietary requirements, but all are thriving, healthy, happy and shiny – a testament to the benefits of a balanced healthy diet, without resorting to the use of laboratory animals. We pride ourselves on the quality of our foods and you can be assured that we love your pets as much as you do!