Ingredients: Where Pet Food Starts

Top Companion Anim Med. 2008 Aug;23(3):127-32. doi: 10.1053/j.tcam.2008.04.004.


Every clinician is asked "What should I feed my pet?" Understanding the ingredients in pet food is an important part of making the best recommendation. Pet food can be as simple as one ingredient or as complicated as containing more than 60 ingredients. Pet food and its ingredients are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and state feed officials. Part of that regulation is the review and definition of ingredients. Existing ingredients change and new ingredients become available so the need for ingredient definitions grows. Ingredients for product formulations are chosen based on their nutrient content, digestibility, palatability, functionality, availability, and cost. As an example, a typical, nutritionally complete dry dog food with 42 ingredients is examined and the ingredients are discussed here. Safe, healthy pet food starts with safe ingredients sourced from well-monitored suppliers. The ultimate goal of both veterinarians and pet food manufacturers is the same--long healthy lives for dogs and cats.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animal Feed / standards*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Legislation, Food
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Nutritive Value
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration