What is the AAFCO Dog Food Stamp of Approval?
Reading the label of your dog’s food can feel useless, as the ingredient list may seem like a foreign language. One of the first things to remember is that a stamp of approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on your dog’s food bag does not necessarily mean it’s a healthy brand. Many generic brands of dog food boast this stamp of approval, which deceivingly makes their product appear healthy even if it’s not.
The label that the AAFCO bestows upon dog food bags usually states “Our pet foods are made following AAFCO guidelines and must pass stringent testing.” This label isn’t a complete lie; the dog food brand does have to go through testing to receive approval from the AAFCO. However, the test consists of a trial where a controlled group of healthy dogs above the year of one eat only the brand being tested for a period of six months. The brand will pass the test if none of the dogs lose more than 15% of their body weight, experience severe health problems, or die. This criteria is hardly adequate to determine if the dogs being tested receive a balanced diet.
What should dog owners look for on food labels?
Instead of looking for the AAFCO approval stamp, you should look to the ingredient list instead. If the ingredient list contains protein sourced from any of the following, it is a red flag:
- Meat By-Product
- Meat Meal
- Meat or Poultry By-Product Meal
- Fish meal
- Bone meal
- Blood meal
Despite the dangerous and unhealthy composition of these ingredients, all of them are considered suitable for dog food by the AAFCO and can be found in many generic brands such as Purina, Pedigree, and Kibbles n’ Bits. The latter five of the ingredients listed are considered rendered products. Rendered products can range from animals picked up from dead stock removal companies, dead zoo animals, rotting road kill too large to be buried at the side of the road, restaurant and grocery store garbage, and leftovers of slaughtered animals from slaughter houses that are deemed unsuitable for human consumption. As for the first two ingredients listed, these products include meat sources that can contain dried excrement from poultry and swine, carpel and tarsal joints, food waste from grocery stores, and feathers, which are an indigestible source of protein for dogs.
Many generic dog food brands use grains in place of healthy meats. Ingredients that are made from corn or wheat are unnecessary for your dog’s diet and only serve to stifle your dog’s health and well-being. Grains may even cause your dog to develop allergies. Unfortunately, products such as wheat flour, wheat germ meal, corn flour, corn bran, and corn gluten meal are all considered acceptable by the AAFCO despite their uselessness in your dog’s diet. Try finding brands that are not grain based so that your dog will be consuming a diet full of nutrients rather than needless fillers.
What dog food should I feed my dog?
There are a wide variety of dog food brands that will provide your dog with an abundantly nutritious and healthy diet. DogFoodAdvisor can help you find great food options for your dog. Information is broken down into dry vs. wet, dog age, dog size, breed, and more! Take a look and find out which foods suits your dog the best!
What food do you give your dogs? Are there any dog foods on the market you wouldn’t recommend? Sound off in the comments section!