Pet Foods

Pet foods are probably the most important feature of any pet’s life. Without them, they simply cannot receive adequate nutrition to maintain a healthy body or perform to the best of their abilities. Nutrition is based on following adequate guidelines and anyone designing their own pet food should heed what the governing bodies in their own countries recommends. So in the UK it will be FEDIAF who should be followed.

UK Pet Food is an extremely valuable site to follow if you are looking to understand pet food manufacture. We have consulted the site for all sorts of advice over many years and rely on their

UK Pet Food members should only use ingredients that are legally permitted and sourced from registered suppliers. The Feed Hygiene Regulation (183/2005) expects feed business operators to be registered with the enforcement authorities. Individual companies may also require their suppliers comply with their own Supplier Approval Schemes.

Specific Terms

A Complete pet food should offer all the required amounts of nutrients so that the pet has everything it needs. A Balanced pet food means that pet food has all its nutrients in balanced and correct proportions. It certainly must be palatable and digestible meaning it is tasty in the first place and all those nutrients can be absorbed by the body. The food must also be safe to eat which means that no toxins are present and that HACCP guidelines have been followed.

Ingredients To Look For

Many humans find ingredients that they recognise as important for their own health or understand how they work in a functional too. So it is for pet food, where the same benefits are generally found.

The basic foods used include:-

  • meat and animal derivatives – the favourite meats are beef, chicken, lamb, pork. Cat food may contain about 4% of many of these ingredients.
  • fish  – some pet foods contain fish like salmon for example because they provide some of nature’s best sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Fish has always been valuable for joint health ad for heart health too in humans so it also works in pets too. The fishes such as trout and tuna are especially popular in wet cat foods.
  • vegetables – a growing trend now to have all sorts of vegetables. There is some mistrust of all vegetable pet foods for cats and dogs.
  • Jelly – a fatty, soft and pliable structure usually based on proteins and carbohydrates. Makes the food palatable and easy to digest and often contains some of the best nutrients like glucosamine.
  • cereals and their by-products
  • seeds – some like linseed are really useful for joint health
  • dairy foods
  • oils and fats – components which often provide substantial amounts of energy but are also critical for good brain and neurological health because of their role in building cell membranes. Look for pet foods with ingredients that have EFAs as these are useful for joint health.
  • sugars and carbohydrates – essential as energy molecules but they can also be misleading because they are also used as non-digestable fillers. Having said that, fibre is provided by insoluble and soluble fibre and i its good for us then it’s good for pets. They need food that is viscous and slows down transit time in the gut.
  • vitamins and minerals – a great variety of vitamins and minerals are added to support cell function. the B vitamins, of which there are many are needed to support energy generation and maintenance in metabolism.
  • salt – an essential ingredient because it provides sodium and chloride ions. Too much can raise blood pressure but kidney function does still rely to some extent on being able to balance the ionic strength of blood but more so in pets than humans.
  • additives – these are ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, polyphenols etc. Glucosamine is well known for helping joints to retain their integrity and function. Also look for pet foods with chondroitin.
  • process aids – needed for ensuring pet food is manufactured easily. Process aids include antifoam and some enzymes that help with extraction but get carried over into the final formulation.
  • antioxidants – ingredients which help prevent the formation of free radicals or mop them up when they are formed. It stops the food spoiling and can prevent damage to key ingredients. Some natural preservatives include vitamin C and vitamin E.
  • preservatives – preservatives are used as in human food to stop food spoiling by microorganisms. They help maintain the longevity of the food and extend it’s shelf-life
  • probiotics – foods can contain live bacteria which helps with gut health. One of the most useful.


Claims are made as in human food for certain properties which a consumer considers important for their animal although some should be treated with caution because they are more for the benefit of the human rather than the pet. They can say things like:

  • A good quality pet food which is balanced should contain 100% of all the nutrients an animal needs for a health, balanced diet.
  • Free from gluten – some animals cannot process the protein gluten which is found in wheat but it’s more of an issue for people who may inadvertently eat this pet food (really? – it does happen though). 
  • Free from GMO – genetically modified ingredients are problematic for many and in many countries are actually banned because of the impact on the environment.
  • Free from artificial colours, preservatives, artificial flavours etc. – some ingredients are disliked by consumers even though they might have functional benefits as described earlier.
  • uses natural ingredients – a way of saying no artificial or synthetic ingredients are used.
  • No soya – soya is now a plant-based food that is causing considerable concern for many because of the environmental issues relating to its cultivation by cutting so much jungle down.
  • Recommended by vets – vets do endorse some pet foods if they think they contain valuable ingredients, are balanced etc.


Pet foods have moved on from just cans to single-serve pouches which provide most of what is needed in a single setting. the type of package is dictated by the state of the food. Wet foods usually come in cans and pouches or tubs. Dry food is best in paper and cardboard containers. Its lighter and easier to handle.

The single-serve pouches come now in 100g amounts.

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Cat Foods

Wet Foods

Typically, a source of meat (4%) in most cases. Purina cat food states the following:-

On average, a 4kg cat will need 3 pouches (100g) every day in two separate meals. The nutritionists reason that the amounts offered are for adult maintenance so the amounts are for moderately active cats living their best life in a normal, environmental temperature.

Some of the pet foods are available in gravy because it is a sauce that many cats and dogs for that matter thoroughly enjoy. Some don’t mind but there are pet foods for each animal that cater for taste.

Dog Foods

Dry Foods

Most dry foods are fed to dogs suitable from eight weeks onwards.

A number of pet food manufacturers now offer a vast range of food.

Cat Food


Cats enjoy meat and there are famous brands like Purina’s Felix for example which do wet cat food as well as dry foods. The black and white cat with its tongue licking gurn is one of the most famous icons of the pet food commercial.

Their products come as wet foods in mixed or single meat pouches. Purina offer a complete range of cat pet food such as ‘In Jelly’, Senior 7+ In Jelly, Doubly Delicious, Kitten in Jelly, In Gravy. makes the mouth water just thinking of these flavours but careful research by the Purina scientists has been extensive. One of the most knowledgeable of all pet food producers.

Look for the mixed selection which provides 120 lots of 100g pouches. If you like you can try Originals, Sensations, As Good As It Looks and Tasty Shreds.

Dog Food

Consider Pooch & Mutt who offer a range of dry dog foods that are meant for various health conditions. Ideal for pets of 8 weeks or more. They have a range of foods for different conditions – ‘Calm & Relaxed’ which contains chamomile, l-tryptophan, prebiotics and brewers yeast. There are also ‘Health & Digestion’, ‘Slim & Slender’, ‘Joint Care’ varieties. Look too for those dry foods devoted to particular sizes in animals such as ‘Small Dog’.

Harringtons have been offering complete pet foods since they started in 1923, which are designed for adult dogs. These do not contain artificial colours or flavours, no soya, dairy and no added wheat.

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In the UK,

What pet foods do you want to buy?

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