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Analysis by Paws.com Shows Pet Food Misleads Owners by Not Fully Disclosing Ingredients

LONDON, Feb. 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ --

  • New analysis reveals 95% of dog food from big brands don't disclose ingredients, instead using generic terms like 'meat derivatives'
  • Meat derivatives can include animal parts such as beaks, hooves, feathers and wool
  • Nearly half (42%) of dog owners don't know what's in the food they give their dogs, and 89% think dog food labels should list exact ingredients
  • Paws.com has created a food checker with the world's first traffic light system for dog food so owners can make an informed choice
Paws Logo (PRNewsfoto/Paws)

Dog owners are being misled into feeding their pets poor quality food, with almost half (47%) admitting they find it hard to understand dog food labels.

The analysis by Paws.com – the new personalised pet food retailer and champion of honest dog food – shows that major brands rely on misleading labelling to avoid revealing the exact ingredients of their dog food products, with 95% of dog food owned by big brands containing at least one undisclosed ingredient.

The UK Dog Food Transparency Report looked at all 1,025 dry and wet dog foods in Britain's supermarkets and on Amazon's bestseller list, and analysed the packaging to reveal the extent to which brands opt to use generic category labels for their ingredients rather than listing the exact content of their food. It found that 85% of all supermarket own-brand dog food includes 'mystery meats', meaning they contain 'meat and animal derivatives' – which could include anything from hooves and beaks to wool and feathers.

More than three quarters (77%) of dog owners say they trust the food they buy will help their dogs to thrive. However, 66% admit their dog has suffered from obesity or other health problems like diabetes, skin and coat problems, and runny stools - potential signs of poor nutrition.

Dog owners across the UK are calling for clearer labelling, as more than one in three (39%) admit they do not know if the food they buy is good for their dog or not. Just under half (42%) feel misled on finding out that food labelled as 'with chicken' could contain as little as 4% chicken (which is true for all meat varieties - such as lamb, beef, and salmon), and as a result, 89% believe it's important that dog food labels list exact ingredients.

The findings come at a time when pet obesity is considered a national epidemic according to veterinary professionals, with one in two (52%) UK dogs now obese[1]. Vets believe that obesity is the main cause of physical deformities (like hip dysplasia), diabetes and breathing problems.

To help demystify dog food, Paws has developed the Dog Food Checker, which allows dog owners to vet their dog food, understand its nutritional values easily, and compare it to other dog foods.

Neil Hutchinson, Founder of Paws, says: "We want to radically transform the way pet parents think about the dog food they buy. Currently, most dog food labels aren't helpful and it's easy for well-meaning pet parents to buy something they believe is great for their dog, but actually doesn't even come close to giving them the nutrition they need to thrive. Our Dog Food Checker, which has the world's first traffic light system for dog food, aims to empower pet parents to understand the nutritional value of any food at a glance. Your pet is family, so why wouldn't you want to know what you're feeding them?"

Stephanie Wenban, Paws Vet, says: "Good nutrition is fundamental to our pets' health and wellbeing, yet with such a huge variety of choice it can be daunting to know what makes a good food, and if you are selecting the best choice for your dog. Just as with humans, inadequate nutrition can have significant health consequences for your pets - leading to complications such as obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis and gastrointestinal disturbances. As we face a pet obesity epidemic in the UK, it is more important than ever for us to bring clarity to the world of dog food and make the process of choosing the right food simple."

Paws.com provides expert-approved food, matched to your dog. Every product sold on the site meets the Paws nutritional standard (which has been devised by a team of veterinary and pet nutrition experts), has a traffic light grading, and lists its exact ingredients on the label – so dog owners can make informed nutritional decisions. Every order from Paws also feeds a dog in a small UK shelter, with over 100,000 healthy meals fed so far.

For more information, visit https://paws.com/dog-food-checker

Notes to Editors:

About the Paws.com Transparency Report

The UK Dog Food Transparency Report 2019 is the most extensive research of UK dog food labels ever done. The study, conducted by Paws, analysed the ingredients of all 1,025 wet and dry dog food available in Britain's supermarkets and on Amazon's bestseller list. It aims to shine a light on the extent of the problem of unclear labelling of dog food and understand how prevalent these practices are in big brand, supermarket own-label, and independent dog foods respectively.

About the consumer research

Nationally representative sample of 2000 UK dog owners. Conducted through Attest in February 2019.

About the Dog Food Checker

Paws empowers pet parents to understand what's in their dog food by using the Dog Food Checker - the world's first traffic light system for dog food nutrition. Created by the Paws team of experts, it's a simple tool that allows users to search for any dry dog food sold in UK supermarkets and Amazon's bestseller list, and provides a 'traffic light' rating for each nutritional component of the food. This helps pet parents understand the nutritional values and trade-offs between price and quality, so they can make informed decisions.

About Paws.com 

Paws is the new personalised pet food retailer and champion of honest dog food. It helps pet parents care for their dog like a pro with 'Paws Approved' food recommendations, expert advice and a meal donated to a shelter dog with every order. Over 100,000 healthy meals have been donated to dogs in need so far.

[1] PFMA's Pet Data Report, 2018: https://www.pfma.org.uk/_assets/docs/annual-reports/PFMA-Pet-Data-Report-2018.pdf

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