Most of us were taught
the importance of a balanced and nutritionally complete diet. But when
it comes to knowing what nutrients our pets need to grow properly and
stay healthy, we often come up short.
Many years ago, little
thought or research was put into the manufacture of pet food, or the
proper way to feed our pets. Eventually, in response to consumer demand,
the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) was formed.
Their primary function was to publish feed regulations and ingredient
definitions. After much research, committee investigations and feeding
trials, nutrient profiles for pets were developed, and guidelines
This is still a work in progress. Despite
significant advances, the importance and proper levels of some nutrients
are still under investigation. The recommendations of AAFCO, for
instance, may change when additional information about nutritional
health in dogs becomes available.
For now, the minimum levels of nutrients that should be included
in pet foods are listed. In a few cases, excess amounts of certain
nutrients can be damaging so maximum levels are also listed in AAFCO
When buying pet food, choose only those products
that carry the statement "Formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient
Profile for..." because they follow these guidelines. It is not a
requirement to meet AAFCO standards in order to sell pet food, so buyers
beware. Check the labels and compare products.
list is divided into two separate profiles. One profile is for growing,
pregnant or lactating dogs and one is for adult maintenance. The
nutrients are listed on a dry matter basis. What this means is that if
you are comparing products, the moisture content of the food must be
taken into consideration. If the food has 75 percent moisture, then the
remaining nutrients make up 25 percent of the food.
nutrient amount and divide by 0.25 to obtain an accurate dry matter
amount to compare to the nutrient guidelines or even to compare one food
to another. If the moisture content is 10 percent, then 90 percent make
up the rest of the nutrients. Divide each nutrient value by 0.9 in
order to get an accurate value.
Current AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles
For Adult Maintenance
Unless otherwise listed, all values are minimum requirements: