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WSAVA Guidelines & Transparent Nutrition

Pet parents use WSAVA guidelines to help them choose a high-quality, nutritious diet for their dog. In the spirit of transparency, here's how JFFD stacks up.

As a pet parent, you want the absolute best for your furry friend. This often starts with their diet, and navigating the world of dog food brands can be overwhelming. You might come across the term “WSAVA-approved dog food” and wonder what it signifies.

Here’s the thing: WSAVA, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, doesn’t actually approve specific dog food brands. Contrary to some online claims, they don’t have a favorite!

So, what does WSAVA do? They focus on providing guidelines for choosing a high-quality, nutritious diet for your dog. They emphasize the importance of a complete and balanced diet, formulated for your dog’s specific life stage (puppy, adult, senior) and any health conditions they might have.

WSAVA’s Global Nutrition Committee published comprehensive guidelines on selecting pet food. The answers to these questions can help pet owners weed out reputable pet foods focused on nutritional value from commercial brands focused on marketing jargon. It plays a vital role in making an informed decision when choosing the best food for your pet’s nutritional needs.

Below are WSAVA’s questions and JustFoodForDogs’ answers.

dog in union square petco jffd

What to look for in a brand

1. Do they employ a Nutritionist?

Yes, JustFoodForDogs employs board-certified and board-eligible veterinary nutritionists on staff.

2. Who formulates the diet?

Diets were formulated by Dr. Su, MS, DVM, ACVIM (Nutrition), and Dr. Oscar Chavez (BVetMed, MRCVS, MBA), both full-time employees at the time of formulation. Since then, they have been reviewed and enhanced by our extensive veterinary team including Dr. Lisa Weeth (DVM DACVIM-Nutrition), Dr. Dan Su (DVM, MS, DACVIM-Nutrition), Dr. Oscar Chavez (BVetMed, MRCVS, MBA), and Dr. Vincent Michels (DVM, Residency Trained in Small Animal Nutrition, Board Eligible).

Quality Control

jffd kitchen action shot

3. What is the quality control process for ingredients and finished products?

Our recipes met all AAFCO requirements, however the full trial was more stringent than the AAFCO requirements. We had 30 client-owned participants monitored for 12 months. We ran full blood parameters at day 0, 6 months, and 12 months. An abstract was published from the data of this trial in 2014 and can be found on our Vet Portal.

Our ingredients come with a certificate of analysis which includes a pathogen check (SPC, E. coli/Coliform, Yeast/Mold, Salmonella, Listeria). All testing on the certificate of analyses provided is done through a third-party lab. In addition, we test pathogens on all finished products.

Our fresh frozen diets are all manufactured and packaged in our own production kitchens. Our kitchens utilize quality control measures and a food safety program designed and proven in the human food industry. We exceed all AAFCO and regulatory standards.

Oversight Program

Our Quality Team has established a farm-to-bowl quality oversight program. The team carefully selects our raw material suppliers, monitors our industry-leading quality program closely, and employs FDA, USDA, and best-in-industry testing schemes to ensure food safety and quality.

The only legally protected, federally inspected, enforced, and well-defined quality controlled process for food production in the United States is the USDA certification, inspection, and approval program established under the FDA. For this reason, the only way to ensure adequate quality control is to feed companion animals only food that has been made with USDA certified meats, along with ingredients fit for human consumption and scientifically balanced for their needs.

Evidence-Based Research

research stock photo for wsava guidelines

4. What kind of product research or nutrition studies have been conducted? Is it published in peer-reviewed journals?

“Pet food companies are not required to conduct or sponsor nutritional research in order to produce and sell a food, but when they do, it indicates a commitment to animal health and wellness.” – WSAVA Guidelines to Selecting Pet Foods.

JustFoodForDogs is proud of the research we’ve conducted over the last 10 years. It’s another reason that sets us apart from the other whole food companies. JustFoodForDogs is also the only fresh whole-food company to have commissioned digestibility studies at a major university. The data of these studies were independently published in a peer-reviewed journal by the University of Illinois research team. The results of the study showed that our food is up to 40% more digestible when compared to similar studies that looked into dry food/kibble.

What to look for on a label

1. Nutritional Adequacy Statement?

Our diets are complete and balanced according to AAFCO standards. We offer a wide variety of products including both all-life-stage and adult dog maintenance products. All products are tested at third-party labs for a complete accounting of all essential nutrients in a nutrient analysis. Foods meet AAFCO nutrient profiles by formulation. They are also regularly tested for a complete AAFCO nutritional profile plus taurine, carnitine, and total dietary fiber by a third-party laboratory.

Two of our veterinary diets, Renal Support Low Protein (RSLP) and Hepatic Support Low Fat (HSLF), are intended for use under veterinary supervision only. These diets are labeled for intermittent or supplemental feeding. They were intentionally formulated to not meet certain AAFCO minimum requirements for protein/phosphorus (RSLP) and copper (HSLF) to support veterinarians in the management of certain disease states.

2. How many calories per gram or serving of food?

All of our products, including our treats have clear labeling for their calorie contents including kcal/kilogram and kcal/oz. This information is available both on the packaging and online.

3. Does the company provide immediate contact information such as a phone number or email address?

“Company representatives should be easily accessible for additional questions, such as the level of specific nutrients not on the label. Pet food companies should be able to provide an ‘average’ or ‘typical’ analysis for all essential nutrients in their food.” – WSAVA Guidelines to Selecting Pet Foods.

Yes. Our address and phone number are featured on all of our pet food, treats, and supplement labels.

Regular Monitoring

4. Who makes the food?

Our fresh frozen diets are manufactured in our own production kitchens and at facilities that have Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certifications. They meet and exceed all animal and human Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) FDA requirements. We employ both a mix of internal commercial kitchens and external manufacturing.

We use both the USDA and FDA standards for human food production for all ingredient requirements and manufacturing sites. JustFoodForDogs is committed to not just establishing a solid foundation of product safety and food quality, but a culture of continuous improvement. We regularly work to make things better and more robust in our quality systems.

We have strict foreign material controls, sanitation programs, pre-operational programs, cooking and cooling standards, rapid cooling and freezing technologies, and a positive release program. All have stemmed from human food manufacturing best practices. Our seasoned team of quality professionals have brought with them such best practices from their experiences in the industry.

All lots are physically monitored for quality checks to ensure they are meeting our specifications for food safety, sensory, visual, and nutritional aspects of the food. We test every lot with multiple samples for several indicator and pathogenic organisms.

For recipes and ingredient lists, visit justfoodfordogs.com

The Bottom Line

According to WSAVA: “If the manufacturer cannot or will not provide any of this information, veterinarians and owners should be cautious about feeding that brand.”

Navigating the pet food industry to find what’s best for your pet can be challenging. For more information on WSAVA Guidelines and what pet parents should look for in a trusted pet food company, visit wsava.org