There is good news in the pet food industry.  Calorie counts will soon start appearing on the labels of almost all dog and cat foods and treats, which will help owners and veterinarians compare products and determine feeding amounts.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is adding the new labeling requirement to its 2014 model feed regulations on the recommendation of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.  It is felt this information is important to address the issue of obesity, since a recent survey indicated that 53% of dogs and 55% of cats in the United States are considered obese or overweight by their veterinarians.  But this caloric information is also important for working dogs, dogs and cats in gestation and lactation, and growing puppies and kittens.  Consumers need to know the calories in order to make good feeding decisions.

Currently, the AAFCO model regulations require light or low-caloried pet foods to list calories and in January 2013, AAFCO approved a proposal requiring all dog and cat foods to list calories.  A spokesperson for AAFCO said the new labeling requirement protects consumers by helping them make more meaningful comparisons between foods.  This change safeguards animal health by making it easier for pet owners and veterinarians to determine the right amount of food for pets.  The new labeling requirement also covers pet treats.

It is important for consumers to know that not all pet food manufacturers follow AAFCO standards.  We recommend that one purchase only pet food with the AAFCO feeding trial statement to guarantee the food meets the minimum standard set by pet food regulators.