Dog and cat treat packaging should include clear labeling and instructions to help pet owners keep their animals on a consistent diet, particularly when pets are eating specialty or therapeutic formulations, said Christian Eriksson, DVM, MS, DACVIM, of BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Paramis, New Jersey, USA and consultant for Royal Canin, a subsidiary of Mars Petcare.
Veterinarian's recommendations for labeling
Ideally, pet treat brands’ packaging prominently displays which products go with what health conditions to help consumers pick the right treats to complement pets’ special or therapeutic diets, said Eriksson. However, some packages don’t make this clear.
“Packaging could clarify that pet owners should consult with a veterinarian before giving these treats and noting that the treats may contain poultry or beef and if you animal is sensitive to these then this animals’ gastrointestinal condition may worsen,” Eriksson told Petfood Industry.
Eriksson used the example of Royal Canin’s hypoallergenic pet treats. The label makes it clear that the treats match the hypoallergenic food. So, when veterinarians recommend or prescribe the treats, it is clear to the consumer which pet treat labels go with which pet food labels.
Likewise, clear pet treat package labeling can help consumers know what ingredients are in the treats, so that pet owners can avoid allergens.
Clear labeling of pet treats’ compatibility with special diets is especially important over the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and other holidays, he said, considering that people tend to indulge both themselves and their pets during the festivities.
Veterinarian's recommendations for feeding guidelines
In addition to straight-forward labeling of therapeutic ingredients, pet treat feeding recommendations need to explain the calorie content of a reasonable serving size. He noted that he has seen pet treat and pet food nutrition labels that give the calorie amount in terms of kilograms or other large quantities that make it difficult for consumers to calculate what they are actually feeding their pets.
Eriksson is currently advocating for pet gastrointestinal health over the holidays in collaboration with a Royal Canin promotion of their gastrointestinal health formula.