WSAVA, or the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, provides global nutrition guidelines for dogs and cats. The goal of these guidelines is to help veterinary healthcare teams and pet owners ensure that dogs and cats are on an optimal nutrition plan tailored to the needs of the individual animal.
The WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee offers expert, evidence-based nutritional information for companion animals. They have developed a suite of tools to make nutritional assessment and recommendations more efficient, such as a diet history form, hospitalized patient feeding guide, body condition score charts, and calorie recommendations for dogs and cats.
WASAVA also provides guidelines for selecting pet foods including what to look for in a pet food brand and on a label. In this blog we will walk through these guidelines and how Old Guard Pet Company meets each guideline outlined. You can find the full WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee: Guidelines on Selecting Pet Foods here: GNC_Guidelines_120421 (wsava.org).
What to look for in a brand
1. Do they employ a Nutritionist?
Old Guard Pet Company is the only company to be founded and owned by a PhD in Companion Animal Nutrition. Our founder has over 15 years of experience in R&D working in clinical research, innovation planning and consumer insights, researching and publishing about the nutritional needs and metabolism of dogs and cats.
Many companies might employ a nutritionist; however, many also just consult with an external nutritionist. This is something important to clarify with the brand that you are currently using. It is imperative for someone to be employed full time so that they can support product development, customer questions and consistently evaluate recipes for quality.
2. Who formulates the diet?
Our founder formulates each recipe alongside a colleague and Director in R&D (Pet Nutrition) who also has a PhD in Companion Animal Nutrition and Behavior. Our founder leveraged years of experience in pet nutrition to design a diet to best deliver quality nutrition to your dog.
Many companies will create formulations or recipes using ingredients that humans might find healthy for themselves or perhaps those that are more common in the diet of a “wolf”. However, our approach is to look at the evolution of the dog (not wolf or human), deeply understand the research that exists on nutritional needs of dogs alongside an understanding and appreciation for the ingredients that best deliver these needs to the dog. We formulate our recipes to be not only complete and balanced but nutrient dense (not to be confused with calorically dense). At Old Guard we always think beyond ingredients to nutrients and each ingredient we use is included to deliver a real benefit to the dogs. Every time a company includes an ingredient to “sound good” it takes away from something that could “do good”.
3. What is the quality control process for ingredients and finished products?
At Old Guard, we reviewed a range of partners in the USA to make our small batch recipes. We found that only one was able to address our questions and standards. All raw materials are checked for safety and freshness and are selected to meet certain quality specifications. We complete nutritional analyses on ingredients for accurate formulations and we test each recipe after production for safety parameters (i.e. salmonella, mycotoxins) and for nutritional compliance (AAFCO levels and our specific nutrient targets). Our packages were tested for integrity and preservation of food quality.
4. What kind of product research or nutrition studies have been conducted? Is it published in peer-reviewed journals?
We conduct nutritional studies on each of our recipes. These nutritional studies include digestibility and feeding studies as well as completing complete chemical/nutritional analysis on our recipes with 3rd party vendors. This ensures that our recipes are nutrient dense and that those nutrients are available for your dog’s biological/metabolic processes.
We leverage nutritional studies and peer reviewed publications that span decades of research (as an example some of our fiber approaches/levels are clinically proven which means there are several research studies proving the efficacy in the dog at the level we use in our recipes). Some of the nutritional innovations used are from research that our founder has personally been a part of (e.g., L-Carnitine) or lead. In general, each of our claims and ingredients are selected because there is some level of scientific research behind them. We are additionally working with various external groups for new collaborations and innovations to identify opportunities to continue to improve dog health and wellbeing.
What to look for on the label
1. Nutrition Adequacy Statement?
All of our food is formulated to meet AAFCO guidelines as well as exceed where there is proven value to your dog’s health. We disclose this on our bags and tailor the AAFCO “complete” statement according to the dog the food is intended for by age/size/lifestyle. We also check each recipe with 3rd parties to ensure compliance with AAFCO nutritional targets.
2. How many calories per gram or serving of food?
The caloric density of our recipes is disclosed on our bags/website as well as feeding guidelines based on these calorie levels and dog weight.
3. Does the company provide immediate contact information such as a phone number or email address?
We provide an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) and phone number 888-294-0660 for customer service on our website and bags. Our founder typically answers all calls and emails pertaining to our food and recipes personally.
4. Who makes the food?
We partner with a family-run manufacturing site in the USA. We screened many partners, and this was the only group to be able to answer all our quality questions. Our manufacturing partner is also a third-generation family-operated company and is audited and approved regularly by the FDA and follows GMP and HACCP guidelines.
Overall, our products meet all the standards outlined by WASAVA. Your pet’s health and well-being are our priority and we are proud to meet the rigorous standards outlined by Global Veterinary Professionals.
Five Dog Food Nutrition Secrets From a PhD
With so much information floating around out there on dog nutrition, how can you be sure you have the facts? In this guide, Founder Maggie Gooding, PhD, in Animal Nutrition and Behavior, with over a decade experience in R&D working on some of the largest pet food brands share five nutrition secrets to help your dog live a longer healthier life.
Get the inside scoop on:
- Energy Balance
- Weight Control
- Dog Eating Habits
- Fibers and Fillers
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