Misconceptions About Pet Food Ingredients

Pet health and nutrition are important topics for pet lovers, and were discussed today on The Dr. Oz Show. A lot of information was shared, including some misconceptions around carbohydrates and flavorings. As the voice of U.S. pet food makers, PFI is here to provide accurate information to help consumers when choosing food for their dog or cat.

  • Despite the bad rap, carbohydrate sources are nutritious and safe ingredients.

Each ingredient in pet food serves a purpose. There are no “fillers” in pet food. A carbohydrate often serves as an energy source for dogs and cats. Ingredient sources of carbohydrates can include whole grain corn wheat, brown rice, oats and more. Certain sources of carbohydrates (e.g., corn) also provide essential nutrients such as protein, fat, fiber and vitamins.

Most pet foods on the market are “complete and balanced,” which means that no matter the ingredient source providing protein, fat, carbohydrate and vitamins and minerals, each serving offers total nutrition for the life stage of your pet.

Dr. Oz and his guests also raised the issue of pet obesity, which can be a serious issue for your dog or cat. Carbs do not contribute uniquely to pet obesity – overfeeding does. Please remember to follow the feeding directions on your pet’s food to help avoid unhealthy weight gain and make sure to “treat responsibly.” Remember: treats and other food sources should not make up more than 10% of your pet’s caloric intake.

The Tufts University Veterinary Medical Center provides additional information on the role of carbohydrates in pet food, along with information on other pet food and pet health issues. For a description of many of the common ingredients used in pet food, visit the Association of American Feed Control Officials.

  • Synthetic flavorings or “palatants” are not generally used in pet food.

Additional flavoring may be added to pet food to enhance the food’s smell and tastiness for your pet. These natural flavorings are made from ingredients such as yeast, protein, fat, fish or “digests” of meat (similar to giblet gravy).

PFI’s website offers straightforward information about pet food and treat safety, nutrition and ingredients. Make sure to visit and learn more about pet food ingredients and nutrients.

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