As a pet parent, you want the best for your pup. That means a complete and balanced diet. A dog food that meets or exceeds the guidelines set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) ensures your dog is getting the right nutrition.
What is AAFCO?
AAFCO is made up of veterinary nutritionists, veterinarians, state and federal officials, and pet food industry professionals all interested in creating the best possible guidelines for your pet's food. However, AAFCO can only recommend, not enforce law. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires labeling whether the food meets AAFCO guidelines or not for nutritional adequacy.
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Pet food companies can display an AAFCO statement if the food is considered "nutritionally adequate." One way to prove it is complete and balanced is to test the food and compare it to the AAFCO standards. If the pet food meets or exceeds the standards, it will have the following statement:
"(Product name) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles."
The other way to prove the food is complete is through feeding tests. Dogs are fed the food according to strict procedures. If the product is found to provide proper nutrition, it will have the following statement:
"Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (product name) provides complete and balanced nutrition."
Take a look at your dog's food. What you see on a dog food package is required by law. All dog food must have labels that include the product name, weight, manufacturer's name and address, ingredient list, guaranteed analysis, nutritional adequacy statement, and feeding directions. Some pet foods also have calories for those who are watching theirs. If the food has the calories listed, it must be in kilocalories (Kcal) per kilogram (kg).
According to the FDA pet food specialist William Burkholder, D.V.M., Ph.D, some veterinary nutritionists recommend switching between two or three different dog foods every few months to be on the safe side even though the food is proven complete and balanced. You can switch between them easily either by mixing the two or three dog foods or gradually switch from one to another to avoid tummy troubles.