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What dog foods follow WSAVA?

Most pet owners consider their dog to be part of their family. As a result, many pet owners pay close attention to what they are feeding their dogs to make sure they’re eating as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, here in Canada pet food is not strictly regulated. This is why most pet food companies choose to follow guidelines from animal health associations across the globe. One such group is the WSAVA.

What is the WSAVA?

The WSAVA (or World Small Animal Veterinary Association) is an association whose goal and mission is to advance the health and welfare of companion animals through raising standards of veterinary care around the world. The work of the WSAVA is delivered through clinical and operational committees.

History of the WSAVA

First created in 1959, the WSAVA was founded following a decision by the then International Association of Small Animal Specialists (IASAS) to rename itself as the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. The WSAVA has expanded exponentially since then to include more than 115 veterinary association members globally and represent more than 200,000 companion animal veterinarians. 

WSAVA nutritional guidelines

The WSAVA has many guidelines for the health and wellbeing of all small animals, but the most well known are those on the topic of dog food. In 2011, the The Global Nutrition Committee of the WSAVA developed a set of global nutrition guidelines. The goal of these guidelines was to help veterinarians and pet owners ensure that companion animals 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 to support veterinarians and pet owners, they do not endorse, approve, recommend or support specific products or companies.

These guidelines go in depth on how to conduct an extensive nutritional assemess on an animal in order to determine their nutritional needs.This includes evaluation of an animal’s specific body condition score, activity level, behavior and dietary factors (such as caloric needs). The nutritional assessment is then followed by interpretation of the results and what is the best dietary plan for that animal and how owners can best monitor the nutritional progress of their animal. 

If you would like to read more in depth about the WSAVA nutritional guidelines, check out the link here.

What does the WSAVA suggest you look for in a pet food brand?

There are a number of factors that the WSAVA suggests owners consider when looking for the best pet food for their pup. 

  • Employment of a companion animal nutritionist

Recipe development is a complex process requiring knowledge of nutrition, raw materials, and processing not taught in veterinary school programs. Trained and experienced formulators may have a degree (MSc/PhD) in food science and technology to help guide ingredient selection and nutrient levels for health or disease management. 

  • Quality control process

Diets formulated to meet Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) guidelines should meet their nutrient profiles. Manufacturers should also have adequate quality assurance and food safety protocols to ensure companion animal and owner safety. This should include nutrient analysis, toxicology, bacteriology, and packaging/shelf-life screenings prior to, during, and after manufacturing.

  • Published/peer-reviewed studies

Pet food companies are not required to conduct or sponsor nutritional research in order to produce and sell a food. However, when companies invest in scientific studies, it shows a commitment to creating a healthy product, backed by research.

Cons of the WSAVA

In order to fund their endeavours and research, the WSAVA requires sponsorship and donations from outside sources. Some of the largest sponsors of the WSAVA are multinational pet food companies such as Purina, Royal Canin and Hills Pet Food. As a result, the WSAVA may have some bias towards pursuing the interests of these larger companies.

Take home message

We all want our pets to eat the best food possible. Scientists, veterinarians and nutritionists at the WSAVA have created a list of guidelines to help you find the best pet food for your pup. Before choosing a new pet food brand, ask their customer service staff if they employ a qualified companion animal nutritionist, what their quality control protocol is and if they are associated with any published research. Keep in mind however that the WSAVA is funded by large kibble companies and may publish more biased information. 

Veterinarian recommending pet food
Veterinarian recommending pet food
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February 20, 2024
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