Friday, November 12, 2010

Does Your Pet Really Need Special Food for Each Life Stage?

Take a stroll down any pet food aisle and you will see a wide variety of specialty foods, many promoted for a specific stage in your dog or cat’s life. You may see “Puppy” or “Mature Adult” or even reduced-calorie foods marketed as “Light” or “Weight Management.” It can leave a pet parent wondering, “What’s the difference between these formulas,” and “Can’t I feed my pet the same thing throughout its life?” Here is a look at the key factors influencing the formulas offered by pet food companies.

Pet Food Nutrient Profiles

To better evaluate the options, it helps to understand basic nutrient requirements, as defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). In its Nutrient Profiles, AAFCO establishes minimum and maximum nutrient levels for dog and cat foods, in just two categories: 1) Growth and reproduction (gestation/lactation) and 2) Maintenance.

The two categories have different minimum and maximum nutrient requirements for a food to be substantiated as a “complete and balanced” diet for a certain life stage, or for “All Life Stages.” For example, the minimum protein requirements for dogs and cats, per the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles*, are as follows:

                         Life Stage                                  Dogs                 Cats

                        Growth & Reproduction                22%                  30%

                        Maintenance                                 18%                   26%

                                             *Official Publication 2008, AAFCO, p.131 & 136

Pet food manufacturers formulate their products to meet one of the two AAFCO Nutrient Profiles. Variations in formulas marketed for different life stages all meet the minimum requirements for one of just two AAFCO categories.

Costs and Marketing

Any company can create a diet that is substantiated for “All Life Stages,” but most pet food manufacturers don’t. Why not? It isn’t because the variations in formulas they design are actually better for your pet, as we would like to think. No. These many formulas are created for business considerations: Lower costs and specific marketing strategies.

Remember the protein example above? Dogs and cats are naturally carnivores and thrive on high protein throughout their lives. Why wouldn’t all pet foods be high in protein to better meet the nutritional needs of our pets? Because AAFCO doesn’t require it and it’s cheaper, and more profitable, to make formulas that meet only the minimum nutrient levels for a specific category. Branding them as “Adult Maintenance” is just a marketer’s spin on the fact that the protein levels in the food are much lower.

But there is another reason for all the formula variations, too: Shelf space. The more space a pet food manufacturer can take up on a retailer’s shelf, the more likely they will get the attention of shoppers and draw them to look at their brand. Marketers use this strategy not because your pets need all those difference formulas, but because having so many increases their presence in the stores, which leads to increased sales to many consumers.

Foods for All Life Stages

Alternatively, some high-quality pet food companies take a different approach, focusing more on providing the best possible nutrition for your pets. They believe that an overweight dog doesn’t need a diet lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates, as often seen in reduced calorie formulas. Instead, that dog needs fewer treats and the right amount of a carnivore-appropriate, nutrient dense food. These companies formulate their foods as “complete and balanced for all life stages.”

This is the philosophy of Nature’s Logic®. The company has formulated truly natural pet foods, substantiated for all the life stages of dogs and cats. The whole foods ingredients provide pets with an abundance of naturally occurring nutrients: Proteins (30-36%), vitamins, minerals, fiber, probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, co-factors, phytonutrients, and more. The natural synergies and increased bioavailability of these extra nutrients ensure the best possible nutrition for your pet.

Further, Nature’s Logic designs its foods, treats, and supplements from 100% natural ingredients. The company has the world’s only full-line of commercial dry, canned and raw food without potentially toxic added synthetic vitamins or minerals. All 42 required nutrients in the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles for dogs and cats are naturally present from the whole food ingredients used to make all Nature’s Logic products. No, it’s not how to make a highly-profitable pet food, but it is how to make the best one.

For more information about Nature's Logic raw, canned, and dry cat and dog foods, please visit

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