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The industry uses as a basis and is a contributor to the research studies published by the internationally recognised authorities, the American Association of Food Control Officers (AAFCO) and the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA. In addition, the industry has internal Nutritional Guidelines for cats, dogs and rabbits.
The NRC and the internal Nutritional Guidelines issue tables recommending the basic nutrient levels in cat and dog food and the industry follows these findings in manufacturing a wide range of products and recipes under biochemical, bacteriological and organoleptic control.
In fact, the use of detailed research has enabled the industry to continuously increase the nutritional value of prepared pet foods. The industry, working closely with nutritionists, vets, biochemists and animal behaviourists, has been able to become even more precise on the feeding requirements of pets.
These provide variety, are nutritionally sound, convenient to use and are categorised according to their manufacturing process or method of use.
The nutritional requirements of cats and dogs are different from those of humans and any error in feeding may have serious consequences on their health. A badly-balanced diet, composed of table scraps and over rich foods may cause disorders (obesity, digestive problems, dysfuntion of the liver, renal insufficiency, bone problems...). In other words, shorten the life of the animal.
A balanced diet for a cat or dog is achieved through a precise dosing of meat, cereals and vegetables in order to meet their needs in terms of amino acids, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, trace-elements and vitamins. Besides, the nutritional requirements of an animal will vary according to its size, age and activity. A hunting dog will not be fed in the same way as a house dog, just as a puppy will not be fed in the same way as an ageing dog.
The rations on offer by the manufacturer are adapted to the needs of the different kinds of pets. Whether they represent a daily ration (complete food) or are used in conjunction with other foods (complementary food), industrially prepared pet foods contain all the right components in carefully prescribed proportions for a pet to lead a healthy life.
As for cats and dogs, FEDIAF has devoloped Nutritional Guidelines for Pet Rabbits.