You might have seen it advertised, or on the side of a bag of pet food: Complete and balanced. But what does it mean, and should you be feeding it to your pets?
What does 'Complete and Balanced mean?
If you see the phrase "complete and balanced" on the packaging of pet food, it means that the product is intended to be fed as a pet’s sole diet and is nutritionally balanced.
It means that it contains the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrate and essential vitamins and minerals to help ensure that your cat or dog remains healthy.
Should I feed my pet complete and balanced meals?
Yes! A meal that has been certified as complete and balanced should be the foundation of your pets diet.
While an occasional treat of “people food,” like a piece of bacon or a bite of hamburger is fine to supplement your pets complete and balanced diet, eating too many table scraps may cause your pet to have an unbalanced diet, which can lead to poor health outcomes.
This means more than just your pet putting on weight. Many human food, and even a lot of "raw food" or "human grade pet food" does not supply your pet with an adequate amount of nutrients, which can lead to serious health problems.
Who decides what pet food is complete and balanced?
A regulatory body such as the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia, or the The Association of American Feed Control Officials issue standards that include the minimum nutritional requirements that a pet food must contain. A pet food brand must meet these requirements in order to call their food 'Complete and Balanced'.
Is Sosa pet food complete and balanced?
All our cat and dog food far exceeds the standards to be considered complete and balanced! You will see the complete and balanced sticker on all of our wet and dry food.
To have our complete and balanced meals delivered to your door, start by telling us a little something about your pet!
What's in complete and balanced food?
Cats and dogs require significantly different food to humans, so you should be wary of companies that sell "human grade" pet food.
It gets a little complicated, so without going into excruciating detail some of the requirements of complete and balanced cat food include:
Protein is very important for cats and dogs. The minimum amount of protein for a complete and balanced diet is 26% within the dry portion of the food. As wet food has a high moisture content, usually in excess of 80%, you have to look at the protein content of the dry portion of the wet content.
For example, Sosa wet cat food has a moisture content of a maximum of 87%, and protein content of 9%. The dry food protein content percentage is therefore 9% of 13%, i.e. 69% - more than double the minimum required amount.
Fats get a bad wrap in mass-produced human food, but are energy-rich and naturally occur in the diet of cats.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential to a complete and balanced cat diet.
There are 10 essential amino acids for both cats and dogs, and one that is essential for cats:
Taurine (essential for cats)
Vitamin A: Eyesight, bones and teeth, skin and mucous membranes
Vitamin D: Blood calcium and phosphorous levels
Vitamin E: Antioxidant
Vitamin K: Blood
Thiamin: Carbohydrate metabolism
Riboflavin: Processes energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
Pantothenic Acid: Metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and some amino acids
Niacin: Processing fats, carbohydrates, and protein
Pyridoxine: Metabolizing amino acids, glucose, and fatty acids
Folic Acid: Synthesis of DNA and methionine
Biotin: Helps process fatty acids, some amino acids, and DNA/RNA
Vitamin B12: Fat and carbohydrate metabolism and nerve conduction
Choline: Neurotransmitter, cell membranes, and lipid transport
Calcium: Bones and teeth and intracellular messenger
Phosphorus: Bones and teeth and metabolism
Potassium: Nerve function, muscular contraction, and heart rhythm
Sodium and Chloride: Helps with hydration, acid-base balance, nerve impulses, and muscle contraction
Magnesium: Enzyme function and the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fats
Iron: Oxygen transport throughout the body
Copper: Iron absorption and transport, skin pigmentation, and skeletal growth
Manganese: Metabolism, immune function, and bone formation, antioxidant and more
Zinc: Metabolism of carbohydrate, lipid, protein, and nucleic acid
Iodine: Thyroid hormones
Like most animals, cats and dogs are mostly made up of water and it is essential to almost all bodily functions. Cats keep themselves on the verge of dehydration for reasons we don't know, and get most of their water from food, rather than liquid.
While it is essential that your cat has access to water, your cat food should also contain a high moisture content. Even our dry food contains moisture.
Is a raw food diet complete and balanced?
There is a recent trend of feeding dogs and cats "raw food diets" which are usually made up of uncooked meat. Some people might go to the butcher for their pets food.
While it may feel like you are buying your pet quality food, the reality is many cuts of meat do not have the diversity of nutritional content your pet requires.
For one, dogs are omnivores so require a diverse range of vitamins and minerals that can not be found solely in meat.
Cats are a little more complicated. While they are carnivores, they evolved on a diet of small rodents - bones, fat, guts and all. "Nice" cuts of meat rarely meet the nutritional requirements they have developed to require, so prepared pet foods include vegetables to meet the starch, vitamin and mineral requirements of a complete and balanced meal.
While there are some specific raw food brands that are complete and balanced, many raw pet food brands are not and should be seen as a complimentary meal.
Can I make my own cat food?
While you definitely can, it is complicated and regulators recommend you feed your pets complete and balanced food.
As you can see from the above ingredients, it is a hard task ensuring your cats get everything they require.
Why not make your life a little easier, and simply have high-quality cat food delivered monthly!