Survey finds widespread misconceptions about pet food, health

Nearly half of pet owners don't check pet food labels for AAFCO 'complete and balanced' statement

PHILADELPHIA — Many pet owners are confused about pet nutrition and industry standards, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by petMD, found that nearly 80% of respondents were aware of the importance of a balanced diet for their pets, but less than half had ever checked the label of their pet's food to make sure it met industry-wide standards.

"Checking for the [Association of American Feed Control Officieals] 'complete and balanced' statement on a pet food label is one of the quickest and easiest ways for owners to ensure that their pets are getting at least the minimum nutrition they need," petMD veterinary adviser Jennifer Coates said. "Contrary to what some pet parents may think, foods that do not adhere to these standards are readily available in many retail outlets."

In addition to not checking pet food labels for the AAFCO statement, many pet owners are confused about the importance of life stage diets for pets, with only 50% of them understanding that they should choose an adult maintenance pet food for an adult pet. Nearly 25% said they would select an "all life stages" diet for an adult pet, even though such diets can promote obesity and other problems in adult animals.

Furthermore, 62% of respondents thought that on average, a balanced diet for a pet involved 10 or fewer nutrients, even though according to current research, more than 50 nutrients must be present in the right amounts and ratios to provide complete and balanced nutrition and optimal health.


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