A survey of 400 cat and dog owners revealed that nearly three out of every four pet owners believe that the pet food they buy may not be safe, even though government officials have said the public should feel secure in purchasing pet food not subject to the recent Menu Foods Inc., pet food recall.
The survey, which was conducted last week by PETCO, found that consumer concerns are consistent with what retailers are hearing from their customers, as well as with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) report of more than 12,000 consumer inquiries about the pet food recall.
“Given the complexity and fluidity of the situation, it’s not surprising that consumers have questions and are looking for information,” said Tom Edling, DVM, director of veterinary medicine for PETCO. “As pet parents, we want to protect our cats and dogs and provide them with the best care possible. Choosing a food that’s right for your pet is an extremely important factor in your pet’s health and life span.”
The survey revealed that although 90 percent of pet owners have not changed their brand of cat or dog food, nearly half are now more likely to look at pet food ingredients before making a pet food purchase.
It also showed that 70 percent of cat and dog owners do not see a meaningful difference in nutritional value among the various brands and types of pet food.
The results suggest that consumers want and need more information to feel comfortable making a good food decision for their pets, Edling said. There are differences in nutrition among pet food recipes, he added.
When selecting a cat food, Edling suggests that consumers consider the following factors:
Cat owners should check all labels and dates of the foods in their homes against the pet food recall lists and should closely monitor their cat’s behavior. If a cat displays any signs of increased lethargy or listlessness, drinking more water and/or increased urination, consult a veterinarian.
- Ingredient list
Consider the entire ingredient list and how those ingredients work together. Don’t just look at the first three ingredients.
- Premium brands
These brands generally provide the highest quality and level of nutrition. Higher nutrition levels mean that animals need to eat less food and will produce less waste. It also has greater consistency in its ingredients, so food purchased today will be the same as food purchased in six months.
- Activity level
Find a diet formulated for your cat’s individual activity level.
Older cats need foods with lower protein levels to ease kidney work, whereas kittens need food with more fat and protein to properly develop.
Menu Foods initiated the pet food recall March 16. Products recalled over the last month account for only about 1 percent of the nation’s pet food supply, according to the FDA. The FDA has stated that recalled products were produced using wheat gluten contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in fertilizer and in kitchenware.
For more CatChannel articles on the pet food recall, click here.