5 Terms that Really Confuse Pet Food Buyers

PITC Pic- Tiverylucky- freedigitalphotos.netWith so many brightly colored bags and cans on the shelves of Paws in the City and other pet supply stores, from the big box grocery to gourmet , it should be easy to choose a food that any pet would enjoy. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Pet food companies know that owners are easily swayed by photos of adorable cats and dogs happily eating their pleasingly pictured kibble. Pretty pictures sell. Healthy-sounding words and images are often employed to hide some very unhealthy ingredients.

The local pet nutrition experts at Paws in the City in Cary want to help pet owners look beyond the superficial and choose pet foods based on quality and nutritional benefit. Keep reading the following five terms for the real meaning of some confusingly common words and phrases:

  • Natural: Pet food companies can use this term on packaging to describe one, two, or all of the ingredients in a pet food. This means that 99% of the ingredients could be artificial, but “natural” can still be printed on the label, as long as it only refers to the actual natural ingredient (i.e. “natural pumpkin treats”).
  • Organic: The USDA legally defines this term used in human food, but there is actually no legal definition in the pet food world (however, reputable pet food companies do follow the USDA regulations). The USDA considers a food to be organic when its farmed ingredients have contained no pesticides for at least five years.
  • Holistic: While undeniably an excellent approach to overall health, the term “holistic” is loosely defined. A holistic approach takes into account the body and mind as a whole, considering more than simply the body’s biological processes as a path to total health. Pet food companies are on their honor with this one, as there is no legal definition in terms of food ingredients.
  • Human Grade: Wouldn’t it be great to feed a pet food so delicious and healthy, even a human would eat it? While most owners probably won’t be taste testing Fido’s treats, this is possible, but highly unregulated. In fact, the term “human grade” is not allowed on labels, but is allowed in advertising and on websites.
  • Gluten free: All the rage in human foods, this is a good-to-know-but-essentially-meaningless term when applied to pets. While many pets do have food allergies, true gluten intolerance is rare in dogs and cats. Gluten free pet foods are commonly made with corn or rice, but may still contain traces of gluten due to the risk of cross-contamination in the harvesting and manufacturing process.

The truth is that every company uses labeling to their benefit, leading pet owners to form a certain opinion, well founded or not, based on descriptions and pictures. Many of most popular terms are not legally defined; double check with the Association of American Feed Control Officials for unbiased information.

The pet nutrition experts at Paws in the City of Cary are dedicated to providing straightforward, factual information regarding the benefits of natural, organic, and holistic pet foods and other products. Call or stop in today!


This blog post about pet care and nutrition is brought to you by Paws in the City, located in Tryon Village, Cary North Carolina. We are your locally owned small business that offers holistic and natural foods and treats for your cat and dog. Sign up for our Loyalty/ Rewards Program and feel free to contact us at any time.

Paws in the City

1105 Tryon Village Drive

Suite 303

Cary NC, 27518

919 851 5853


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Photo: tiverylucky, freedigitalphotos.net

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