Pet food makers use a wide range of wholesome agricultural ingredients including meat, poultry, seafood and grains as well as ingredients produced while processing food that people eat.
Ingredients are selected based upon the function they can serve in the product. Ingredients can supply nutrients, provide texture or mouth feel, enable the food to hold its shape, enhance flavor, and preserve freshness. Many ingredients serve multiple functions.
Most pet food products are designed to provide all the nutrition a pet needs, and are therefore called complete and balanced. Making such a product isn’t easy. Veterinary nutritionists have identified between 42 and 48 essential nutrients for cats and dogs. In order to pack all those nutrients into a pet food, products regularly contain two to three dozen ingredients. It is also important to ensure that a pet food is palatable for pets. As veterinarians point out, if a pet will not eat its food, it will not obtain the nutrients it needs.
Guide to the ingredient panel on the label: