Pet food: Complete and balanced? Maybe…maybe not?

A very informative and detailed article:


And more:

Explanation: Complete and Balanced means the pet food contains all of the nutrients (protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals) that a cat or dog needs – and in the proper amount. 

But is our pet eating enough of it to get the “proper amount”? That is why the feeding guide is important. But having said that, what about activity level? The active pet needs more food than the sedentary couch potato? So the feeding guide cannot be based on weight alone, but also activity level. I remember the Primal Freeze-Dried feeding guide includes activity level too, ie. sedentary, active, etc. These are subjective criteria and cannot really be measured or quantified.

Not easy, right?

When Mr. Zip and Zoom consumes more food – to meet his calorie/energy needs – he is consuming more vitamins and minerals than his physical size needs.

Because the ‘Complete and Balanced’ system does not recognize the high calorie need of some pets…

Mr. Zip’s need for high calorie consumption results in –

Consuming more pet food, which results in –

Consuming more vitamins and minerals his body size requires.

When Mr. Couch Potato consumes less food – to meet his calorie/energy needs – he is consuming less vitamins and minerals than his physical size needs.

Because the ‘Complete and Balanced’ system does not recognize the low calorie need of some pets…

Mr. Couch Potato’s need for low calorie consumption results in –

Consuming less pet food, which results in –

Consuming less vitamins and minerals his body size requires.

Over time, both of these dogs could suffer from health issues relating to excess vitamin/mineral consumption or health issues relating to nutrient deficiency.

And we have the same concerns with ‘Complete and Balanced’ cat food. The National Research Council has established generalized calorie/energy needs for cats based on lean or overweight.

Are you still reading this?

We need a better system!!

The AAFCO Complete and Balanced system is flawed. It neglects to consider the energy differences of pets. And the AAFCO Complete and Balanced system is not directly linked to the feeding directions on pet food labels (more on this below).

The European pet food industry organization FEDIAF has a much better system than AAFCO.

Nutrient requirements (to base the Complete and Balanced claim on) under AAFCO for dogs have only two categories.

Okay, I shall leave it to you to read the rest and confuse yourself thoroughly!!

Apart from the wealth of information available in this article, here’s some more that I’ve learnt, especially for us in Malaysia.

AAFCO is the American standard and FEDIAF is the European standard. Many of our cat food brands are made in Thailand so it follows the AAFCO standard. Both are NGOs.

But these standards doesn’t mean the NGO has checked, inspected or tested the food. Compliance to it also doesn’t mean the NGO endorses or certifies the food. It just means that the food company claims it has complied with the set standards.

When a pet food company claims its food is complete, it doesn’t mean the food is regulated. A company can make its own claims based on its own standards.

Some companies add in vitamins, minerals and nutrients just to comply with some set standards, but these additives could be chemicals.

Some companies remove certain required nutrients because it makes the food less palatable.

I know I’m confusing you even more now.

So, I guess if you have had the patience and tolerance to read until here, your question might be the same as mine:

What food should we feed our pets?????

Honestly, I have no good answer to give you.

I read from somewhere that for cats, throw them a dead rodent and let them eat whichever parts they wish. They know what they need.

Of course, for me personally, this is my go-to website for cat food:

I am thankful we can get Coco&Joe’s and Cubgrub here as I don’t dare make my own raw food.

And yes, I still believe that raw food is the most biologically-appropriate food for cats and dogs. But that’s just my own opinion, based on what I know and based on my own cats’ wellbeing and quality of life.

But apart from raw food, when my cats are ill or have CKD, for eg, I will modify their food to suit the needs and address the illness.

I am not a diehard raw feeder (“Eat or starve!” – No, I dont do this).  And if any of our cats skip two meals in a row, I know they need a change (maybe there is some tummy upset which I was not aware of), so I will give them canned food and normally, that does the trick. All they need is a change of taste. Our CKD cats need renal food too and they like the kibble. So all our cats have access to kibble as well, but minimally.

So, for raw foods, we use Coco&Joe’s and Cubgrub.

For canned foods, we use Cindy’s Original and Back2Nature. I tried Fussie Cat but was told their salt content is higher, so no, even though they comply with AAFCO standards. For kibble as a snack, it’s Cindy’s Naturelle Grainfree (this is for our grazers, especially the Blondies!).

Our CKD cats have RC renal kibble and Hill’s KD (kibble and canned). Tabs used to love Primal Freeze-Dried but since diagnosed with CKD, she has to be on a renal diet now.

I know for a fact that most Malaysian vets do not endorse raw food. They have their reasons, of course.

At the end of the day, is there any longitudinal studies done on which type of foods support longevity and the quality of life of cats and dogs? I think not because while longevity is quantitative and can be measured, “quality of life” is totally qualitative.

So, whatever works, right?