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|Terms that have no defined meaning on pet food labels:
As pets have become more important to their owners, what the pets are fed has become more important as well. Most pet owners are concerned about the quality and nutrition level of the food they are feeding their furry family members. There are now hundreds of pet foods available to the consumer. How do you know what to believe regarding pet food claims?
Many pet foods line the shelves of groceries and pet food stores, each with their own marketing claims. Some of the terms used have a definite meaning to nutritionists, some are just marketing.
Terms that have a legal meaning are natural, organic, and by-products. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) defines these terms and publishes recommendations for pet foods.
Natural refers to a "feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal, or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process."
Organic has been defined as " a formula feed or a specific ingredient within a formula feed that has been produced or handled in compliance with the requirements of the USDA National Organic Program." Under this category are three levels:
By-products are defined as " non- rendered clean parts of carcasses such as heads and viscera ( organs), free from fecal content and foreign material except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice."
The important thing to know is that any food labeled Natural or Organic is not necessarily a good food, and that a food with by-products can be an excellent food. Natural substances can still be very dangerous; cocaine, heroin, arsenic, and cyanide are all natural but, of course, they are not good for you. Organic foods may contain ingredients that are free of pesticides, but the food may not be balanced or nutritious.
Some pet food companies suggest that foods that contain by-products are of a lower quality, but the term doesn't deserve this reputation. In actuality, by-products are often a good source of vitamins and minerals.
In summary, some claims by pet food companies are just marketing, without real science to back up their advertisements. How do you know which food to use? The best general advise is to choose a food that has been formulated with AAFCO standards and had feeding trials. Your veterinarian can help you in this choice.
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Absolutely amazing! Dr. Imhoff performed knee surgery on my little chihuahua Caesar. I was very nervous about it but he and the office regularly called me through out the day to give me status updates. It really helped to calm my nerves. Dr. Imhoff then checked Caesar weekly for the next six weeks to check his healing progress. He explained everything to me and was very friendly and knowledgeable. One night, midway through Caesar's healing he had wiggled out of his e-collar and ripped his bandages off. I panicked and brought him into the ER next door. The staff and doctor on duty were so incredibly calming and friendly, even though I was freaking out. After checking him over the doctor re-bandaged Caesar and didn't even charge us the ER fee. Absolutely amazing service and friendly staff. I never felt like they were trying to nickel and dime me, unlike other places. I will always recommend them! Thank you Dr. Imhoff for doing an amazing job on Mr. Caesar!
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