By The Farmer's Dog | February 22, 2021

WSAVA, or the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, provides veterinarians and pet owners with guidelines to aid them in selecting pet food based on meeting certain criteria including and not limited to: nutrition, food safety and control processes, and the company behind it.  

It is important to recognize that WSAVA does not approve, certify, or recommend pet foods. Their Guidelines for Selecting Pet Foods are outlined in a list of questions that help veterinarians and consumers know what to look for in a pet food brand and on the label.

The Farmer’s Dog meets or exceeds all of the WSAVA guidelines for selecting a pet food.

What to look for in a brand

1. Do they employ a nutritionist? Appropriate qualifications are either a PhD in Animal Nutrition or Board Certification by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) or the European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN). 

Yes.  The Farmer’s Dog employs PhD, board-certified nutritionists.

2. Who formulates the diet? Is the recipe developed by an experienced pet food formulator (MS or PhD in Animal Nutrition), a veterinarian, or a pet owner/breeder/trainer?

Dr. Ryan Yamka, PhD, MS, PAS, FACN, Dipl. ACAS (companion animal nutrition) and Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (nutrition) both formulate The Farmer’s Dog’s foods while overseeing the initial formulations from concept to commercialization. 

3. What is the quality control process for ingredients and finished products? Diets formulated to meet Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) guidelines should meet their nutrient profiles. Does the diet meet the profile based on analysis using a nutrient database or on chemical analysis of the finished product?

Manufacturers and pet food providers should have adequate quality control to ensure companion animal and owner safety. This should include ingredient (food and supplement) validation, final diet nutrient analysis, toxicology, bacteriology, and packaging/shelf-life screenings prior to, during, and after manufacturing.

  • All of our foods are complete and balanced according to AAFCO standards.  We routinely test all our foods in house as well as through a third-party laboratory.  The third-party typical nutrient analysis for each food is available upon request, or to veterinarians through our Veterinarian Portal online, and in our Nutrition Guide.
  • We require that our food is made to human-grade “ready to eat” standards in human food facilities that carry a USDA establishment number. In addition, we require that all kitchens be certified to GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) standards. Not only do we look to third parties to audit the kitchens, our internal Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory team conducts annual Food Safety Audits at each kitchen to ensure our standards are upheld. As with human food, we require the kitchens to have environmental monitoring for pathogen control programs and a documented allergen program, which not only has pet related allergens and hazards but also human allergen controls to protect the pet owner.
  • All of our inbound ingredients and finished foods are inspected and tested for potential food safety hazards.  Every lot of food must meet our strict analytical specifications to ensure each lot adheres to our guaranteed analysis.  In addition to analytical testing, our food must pass microbiological tests, including pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, prior to being released. High risk ingredients such as our vitamin and mineral premix are tested for nutrients like vitamin D prior to being shipped to our kitchens.

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.

We have conducted a feeding trial to ensure our food is complete, balanced, and bioavailable. Results of those trials are available upon request.  Additionally, we have conducted third-party digestibility and Relative Supersaturation (RSS) studies on all our foods.  All of our results are available upon request or can be found in the Nutrition Guide and the Veterinarian Portal online.

What to look for on a label

5. Nutrition Adequacy Statement? Is it a complete diet? Foods should be labeled to indicate if they provide a “complete” diet with all required nutrients. The label might also specify if this was determined via life stage feeding trials vs formulation to meet requirements.

Yes, our foods are complete and balanced according to AAFCO standards. Our foods meet AAFCO nutrient profiles by formulation and by third-party laboratory analysis. In addition, our food has completed and passed a feeding trial that we designed in conjunction with a DVM and DACVN to surpass AAFCO standards. Our foods are routinely tested by third-party laboratories to ensure we meet and exceed AAFCO standards.

6. How many calories per gram or serving of food? Obesity prevalence is increasing in pets in many areas of the world. Having access to accurate pet food caloric content can help prevent unintended overfeeding. Calorie information is only required on pet food labels in the US. Where it is not provided on the label it should be available by contacting the manufacturer or calculating from label nutrient analysis.

The number of calories per gram of our food depends on the recipe selected. Clear, specific calorie information is presented to every customer when they sign up for a plan for their dog, and is available on their account page at any time. We provide personalized, pre-portioned packs of food tailored to each dog’s specific caloric needs, so dog owners can see exactly how many daily calories they’re feeding. These customized plans make portion control simple and all but eliminate the chance of unintended overfeeding.  

7. 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.

Yes—you can reach our incredible customer experience team at [email protected] or 646-780-7957. We also have a complete typical nutrient analysis for all of our options available upon request. Additionally, our third-party typical nutrient analysis, digestibility results, and Relative Supersaturation (RSS) results are available to veterinarians on the Veterinarian Portal and the Nutrition Guide.  

8. Who makes the food? Companies may make their own food (i.e.,”Made by”) or use a third- party manufacturer (i.e.,”Made for” or “Distributed by”).

At The Farmer’s Dog we go above and beyond traditional pet food manufacturing standards and regulations by partnering with USDA inspected facilities in the U.S. that produce human food.

We require each facility to hold a USDA grant of inspection and have on site inspectors employed by the USDA. In addition, we require all locations to maintain GFSI certification and register with the FDA for pet food.  Our internal Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory group has extensive experience in human food safety requirements and pet food nutrition, and holds our manufacturing partners to the same safety standards as human food with the vitamin and mineral accuracy required for pets.

Our human-food facilities are not allowed to use meat meals or rendered fats, ingredients commonly used in pet food that can contain meat from diseased animals and have been linked with recalls tied to pentobarbital. Ingredients of that quality are not permitted to enter the facilities.