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Veterinarian says natural foods not always best for pets
Date:9/17/2010

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- While natural food is a rising trend among humans, pet owners should be careful before feeding similar types of food to their pets, according to a Kansas State University veterinarian.

All too often pet owners assume that because certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthy for them, they are also healthy for their pets, said Susan Nelson, K-State assistant professor of clinical services.

"Natural and veggie-based pet foods are based more on market demand from owners, not because they are necessarily better for the pet," she said.

Natural pet food isn't necessarily unhealthy for pets, and there are good brands on the market. But cats and dogs have specific nutritional needs that some of these foods may not provide, Nelson said.

For instance, a natural dog food may provide antioxidants through fruits and vegetables, but it may be deficient in other nutrients the dog needs. If pet owners opt for natural pet food, it's important to make sure pets still receive a well-balanced diet, she said.

Before buying any pet food that is labeled natural, owners should make sure it comes from a reputable company. Nelson said the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, sets guidelines for the production, labeling and distribution of pet food and sets minimum standards for the nutritional adequacy of diets.

To ensure that food contains the proper nutrients a pet needs, pet owners should only buy pet food that has at least one of the two AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements on its label, Nelson said. The association's standards determine whether a pet food company's product is complete and balanced for a specific life stage according to one of two criteria: the diet's formula meets the minimum nutrient requirements established by the association or the diet has undergone association feeding trials.

Feeding trials, while not perfect, generally give the best assessment
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Contact: Susan Nelson
snelson@vet.k-state.edu
785-532-5690
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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