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What is AAFCO?
AAFCO is an acronym for the Association of American Feed Control Officials which is a not-for-profit organization that sets the standards for pet, livestock and animal feeds in the USA.

What are AAFCO pet food nutrient profiles?
AAFCO sets nutritional standards and pet foods that want to be marketed as “complete and balanced” must meet those guidelines. The nutritional adequacy standards are 1) growth and reproduction – which means the food will support puppies and pregnant or lactating females; and 2) adult maintenance.

What do manufacturers need to do to meet the AAFCO requirements?
Foods that claim to be complete and balanced for specific life stages may show that via laboratory analysis only, or by laboratory analysis and feeding trials.

How do I know which method the pet food brand I feed is using to verify nutrition?

  • If your dog food has only used the laboratory method of evaluation, the bag will say: “Brand XYZ Dog Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO Dog Food Profiles for maintenance of adult dogs.”
  • If your food has had both laboratory and feeding trials will say, “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Brand XYZ Cat Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult cats.”

Is it okay to feed a puppy or kitten a food that says it can be fed to “all life stages”?
Dog and cat foods that are labeled “growth” or “all life stages” should be fine for feeding to puppies or kittens. (Yes, dog food for puppies and cat food for kittens.) AAFCO guidelines allow manufacturers to market a pet food as suitable for “all life stages” as long as it meets the guidelines for “growth and reproduction.” Foods that say “all life stages” are also suitable for growth stages of puppies and kittens.

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