Lifes Abundance content relating to 'pet food '

The Truth About False Advertising and Pet Foods: What You Need to Know

shopper checking ingredients

Recent FTC actions have made headlines making businesses and consumers alike keep an eye on pet food labels and false advertising.

Sound the alarms! The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on advertisers trying to pull the wool over your eyes with false or unsupported claims about their products. In April of 2023, the FTC sent notices to about 670 companies that market over-the-counter drugs, homeopathic products, dietary supplements, or functional foods (think fortified cereals) – making one thing crystal clear: questionable advertising doesn’t fly.

In this blog, we dig deeper into this recent flare-up of enforcement and why it’s important to consumers. We’ll explain what you can and can’t say as a business - and why we play by the rules in the game of advertising.

Deceptive Advertising: The Importance of Health Claims and the FTC

The first round of these notices went to companies making - or likely to make - health claims about their products. If a company received one of these notices, it doesn’t necessarily mean they participated in deceptive practices or violated any laws, but it does mean the FTC is ensuring everyone knows the rules about health claims. So what are “health claims” anyway…and why do they matter so much?

Let’s say you own a bakery and you make cookies. These cookies have awesome, healthy ingredients - people genuinely love them. You sell out every day, and people are even placing pre-orders. You’re making a lot of money, and it’s excellent!

You now have enough money to invest in packaging to share them with the rest of the country (your aunt in California has already ordered seven boxes). When making the packaging, you use the words “organic cookies”. You know most of the ingredients are organic, so that makes sense. And you like the idea of adding “#1 cookie in the nation” at the top - they will be soon, anyway!

Full stop. We hate to break it to you: those are both big no-nos, according to the FTC. You need documentation to back up these claims. Not to mention, when using the word “organic”, you have to be extra careful. ALL ingredients have to be organic to call them “organic cookies”. The USDA may also get involved with this one!

From a business perspective, there’s also the daunting reality of what the FTC can do to your company if you continue to make false or misleading claims about your products. For example: for repeat offenders, the FTC has won settlements in the millions through legal action as well as imposed lifetime bans in the industry (this specific case happened in the diet pill industry).

At Life’s Abundance, we want to stay in business and provide your family with healthy home essentials and pet products for many years into the future - it’s part of our purpose. So we don’t mess around when it comes to the FTC and their overwhelming authority. Between the fines and bad PR mentioned above, the FTC obviously means business!

reading news on tablet

As a consumer, it’s important to understand FTC guidelines and how they affect your family’s health and safety.

Why does the FTC get involved with marketing?

Now you know a company can’t just boldly declare their miracle product will cure your stress, improve your heart function, or even give you a good night’s rest. But why does the FTC care so much?

The FTC insists that any claims of curing, mitigating, or treating illnesses like this must meet the rigorous standards of scientific testing. You can forget about cutting corners when it comes to more serious diseases like cancer or heart disease. A violation of this rule can cost you up to $51,000. These significant fines from the FTC are meant to prevent people from taking a new, over-the-counter drug that says it helps cure heart disease - when it doesn’t. As you can imagine, these unfounded health claims can have major life-changing effects.

It should be repeated: if you're going to claim your product's health benefits, you better have solid, scientific proof - not just wishful thinking.

The FTC is serious about keeping advertisers honest. So, dear businesses, take heed! The FTC aims to help consumers trust what they see and hear on the shelves, online, or anywhere product advertisements live.

Following FTC Guidelines

While FTC cases with pet foods or skin care are less high-profile than some of the diet pill fiascoes, the FTC’s guidelines still apply to companies like Life’s Abundance. We know this, and we understand it deeply - so much so that we have a compliance team to research and help us talk about our products without straying from the truth. Everyone should want to stay on the good side of the FTC!

Every bag, pouch, or bottle you receive from us has approved claims on it. For example, some of the ingredients in our skincare products are organic, but not all. Therefore, we only say “made with organic ingredients”, rather than “organic moisturizer”.

There are a couple of reasons for this: (1) This is the truth, and we don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking every ingredient in the product is organic, and 2) we make decisions based on the long-term good of the company and customers. Playing fast and loose with the rules is a surefire way to undermine this goal.

The Do’s of Making Health Claims

With all this info on what you CAN’T say - let’s talk about what we CAN say. Once we pull the curtain back on this, you’ll totally understand.

For a pet owner, it’s important to have pet foods with vitamins and minerals. Maybe you’re unsure why, but you’ve heard it before, and your vet even recommends it. So you go shopping (online has more options, probably!). You find what looks like a reputable company, the ingredient list looks solid, and the product description reads:

“Pet food fortified with vitamins and minerals may contribute to improved nutrient absorption in pets. The presence of these essential nutrients has benefits for your pet’s overall health and well-being.”

Notice that no words imply this food will cure or treat any disease - because that’s probably not true. But also, it’s very general when talking about the overall health benefits to your pet. Plus, we’re willing to bet there’s research to back these claims up in that company’s ever-growing FTC filing system. (Just ask our Compliance Department!)

This is the type of claim the FTC is looking for. It keeps everyone honest, and most importantly, you’re not being misled about what this product can or can’t do. Plus, now you know vitamins and minerals can help improve your pet’s overall health - and that’s a true statement, approved by the FTC.

Our Commitment to Transparency

At Life's Abundance, we believe transparency is key to ensuring you have the best products you can get - for a long time to come. That’s why we ensure we’re up-to-date on all things FDA, FTC, and USDA (we could also insert any other number of the regulators we work with!).

With the FTC's regulations clearly on our radar, we feel super confident in our marketing by providing you with a fluff- and gimmick-free shopping experience. We strive to put in the time and work required to be honest and reliable because your family deserves healthy products - and you deserve to feel confident with what you’re bringing into your home!

If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

Recent FDA Report Says DCM In Dogs Is Not Linked to Grain-Free Food
Why Consumers Trust Lifeʼs Abundance Pet Food

What You Should Know About Grains In Pet Food

dog laying down behind food bowl

In recent years, there has been concern about using grains in pet foods as they’re sometimes seen as cheap fillers. Corn and wheat in particular are two grains that pet parents try to steer away from when looking at the ingredients. One of the issues is that they’re not particularly high in nutritional value and aren’t easily digestible. Of even greater concern, corn has caused multiple recalls of kibble due to increased levels of aflatoxin, which is a mold commonly present in this ingredient.

This has led consumers to look towards grain-free diets. While there is nothing wrong with choosing a grain-free food, grains are still an important part of your pet’s diet. Just like humans, our furry friends need a well rounded diet that consists of carbohydrates, high quality proteins, and healthy fats. One of the best carbohydrates that can be included in pet foods are whole grains such as brown rice.

dog with food bowls in front of paws

Benefits of Brown Rice

Brown rice is made from the entire grain with only the inedible outer husk removed. It’s not considered a cheap filler and is a great addition to dog and cat foods.

  • It contains seven minerals and five B vitamins which are essential for promoting heart health and metabolism.
  • Brown rice leaves some of the rice bran intact meaning it is a source of fiber. Fiber aids in your dog or cat’s digestive system and heart health. Not to mention it can also increase their energy levels!
  • Being a complex carb with over a 90% digestion rate, it burns slowly which helps to support their blood sugar levels for longer periods of time.
  • Brown rice keeps your pets feeling full so you can feel even better knowing it aids in your pet’s weight management.

At Life’s Abundance, we include brown rice in both our dog foods and cat foods, as it’s a healthy addition to their diet and provides them with sustained energy. And, you can take comfort knowing we routinely test for hazards such as arsenic in our foods so your dog or cat can live a long, happy and healthy life by your side!

If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

Can Dogs Eat Superfoods Too?

Key Ingredients Most Pet Parents Are Missing

Alternatives to Feeding Canned Food

dog looking at food bowl

If you’re used to feeding your furry friend canned food, you might find it hard to steer away from it. While these foods are great for puppies and kittens, or pets with sensitive teeth, there are some alternatives that you can try. Here are our suggestions:

First, Consider Calorie Replacement

Whichever route you choose, be aware of the calories that you will need to make up when taking canned food out of the equation. 

For example: If you are currently feeding your 30 pound dog 1 1/2 c. of All Life Stage kibble per day and have been adding one can of Turkey & Shrimp daily (142 calories), you will need to make up the 142 calories another way. It may be just by adding more kibble, or you may choose a combination of kibble, a topper or mix-ins. The same applies to cats, as well.

Replacing Canned Food As a Mix-in or Topper

There are many alternatives to using canned food as a mix-in or topper. Our Turkey Hearts Freeze-Dried Treats are easy to crush into a powder that can be sprinkled over your dry food. Our Buffalo Lungs are also a big hit with dogs. Use a kitchen utensil to crush, scrape or cut small bits of this single-ingredient treat to sprinkle or mix into their kibble. 

These same tempting treats also work well to help with acceptance of supplements or medication.

You can also use baby food as a mix-in. It's highly regulated, so a jar of chicken baby food is only chicken and usually avoids extra salt. Moisten the kibble and mix it in as you would the canned food!

cat eating food out of bowl

Replacing Canned Food As a Primary Diet

Dry food is, by its nature, more nutritionally dense than canned food. This is why it is most often recommended as the primary diet for dogs and cats. However, we understand that some dogs and cats simply cannot eat dry food, whether the very young, or the elderly. 

As an alternative, you can soften our dry foods with a little water. This can provide a nice solution for weaning puppies and kittens, or pets with sensitive teeth. To do this, lightly moisten any of our kibbles to soften the consistency, per our feeding instructions. We do not recommend soaking. Because soaking is not how our food is intended to be used, soaking will not produce an ideal result.

We hope this has provided some additional options that you can implement into your furry friend’s diet so they can achieve and maintain their optimal health!

If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

Let's Talk About Raw Pet Diets

The Inside Scoop On Homemade Pet Food

Customer Bulletin: Excess Vitamin D Recall Expanded



Update as of January 31, 2019:

Hill’s Pet Nutrition voluntarily recalled select canned dog food products due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. Specifically, 14 different Hill's Prescription Diet and 11 Science Diet canned foods are involved. These recalled products were distributed to retail stores and veterinary clinics nationwide. This recall is the first to involve canned pet food. Click here for the current FDA information and recall list.

Original Article Posted on December 5, 2018:

The FDA has expanded its investigation of the presence of elevated levels of Vitamin D in dry dog foods, which can be toxic and cause serious health problems. Currently, there are eight brands and twelve different diets that have been recalled. After evaluating samples of several of these foods, the FDA found an alarming 70 times the intended amount of vitamin D. Although an essential nutrient for dogs, very high amounts of Vitamin D can cause serious health problems like kidney failure or death.

The FDA says signs of elevated vitamin D levels can include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling and weight loss. Pet parents with dogs that have been eating the recalled brands and showing these symptoms should discontinue use, contact their veterinarian and can also report a suspected case to the FDA. Click here for the current FDA information and recall list.

Suspected Problem

In the pet food industry, it is common for manufacturers to make dog food diets for other companies. For example, Sunshine Mills makes Evolve, Triumph and Nature Farms, to name a few. It is also very common for these manufacturers to purchase generic vitamin and mineral mixes and use them in other brands. This could be the reason why we saw the Vitamin D recall start with just two brands and expand to eight brands ... and maybe even more.

Safer Solution

At Life's Abundance, we have a much better and safer way of making pet foods. For example, as it relates to this situation with Vitamin D, we do not use a generic vitamin and mineral mix in our pet diets. In other words, the mix we use is a proprietary formula that is made only for Life's Abundance and no other company. This exclusive vitamin and mineral mix goes beyond what AAFCO requires and is just one of the steps we take to make sure your pets are getting safe and nutritious foods.

We hope the information we shared with you will do two things. Alert unsuspecting dog food consumers of this situation so their dogs don’t get sick and also help you feel even more confident about Life's Abundance and our commitment to helping families, including our pets, live long, healthy lives!

Pet Food Super Powers

Super girl and dog

Believe it or not, it wasn’t until nearly the 20th Century that pet food was something distinct from scraps derived from human diets. However, only in the past four decades has the emphasis on health-promotion entered the mix. Some of our readers will no doubt recall the “Gravy Train” commercials of the 70’s. Pet food certainly has changed dramatically since those days! More...

The Inside Scoop On Homemade Pet Food

Girl thinking about what to cook

If you’re reading this, chances are it’s not the first time you’ve given some degree of thought to the concept of a homemade pet diet. Whether you regard this topic with interest or with repulsion, a series of pet food recalls combined with the ‘foodie’ movement have resulted in growing discussion among pet parents about the costs and benefits of becoming a personal chef for one’s pet kids. 

So, what are some of the reasons pet parents turn to making their own pet food? While motivations can be deeply personal, they commonly fall into these categories:

1. Your veterinarian prescribed food that your pet kid won’t eat
2. You have made specific dietary choices and want to extend them to your animal family members
3. You only trust food which comes out of your kitchen
4. You are hoping to alleviate the symptoms or severity of a medical diagnosis
5. You are ambivalent about commercial pet food and curious to see if you could get better results
6. A belief that you could save some money

While these questions provide some food for thought, motivation alone is not an assurance of health and wellbeing for pet kids. When deciding what to feed their companion animals, pet parent’s choices must be backed up by expertise and solid knowledge. So, what actually does go into the decision to take the plunge into homemade pet food?

Pet Parent Education: Intensive

In the era of Pinterest, there are loads of DIY pet food recipes and enthusiastic testimonials. Some of these recipes give the appearance of being well-balanced and reasonably easy, and may even have a cute name.

But chances are that the vast majority of these will not provide pets with the nutrition they need. In an independent 2013 study of 200 homemade adult dog food recipes gathered from the internet, cookbooks and veterinarians, only five (2.5%) of them were nutritionally balanced. All five balanced recipes had come from veterinarians with advanced training in nutrition.

The takeaway here is that it is critical to involve a holistic or integrative veterinarian and/or a veterinary nutritionist to ensure the nutritional needs of your furry kid are being met.

Cost Analysis: Moderate - Intensive

If the financial bottom line is a priority, time should be spent doing an analysis of the daily cost to feed pet kids a balanced diet. With a quality recipe in hand, pet parents can take to the internet and local grocery stores to estimate the cost of the homemade meal before ever investing in buying the ingredients. The cost of any special equipment, like a meat grinder or food processor, and food storage containers, should also be factored in.

Ingredient Sourcing: Intensive

A balanced recipe from a qualified Veterinary Nutritionist is sure to include proteins, carbohydrates and a list of added vitamins and other nutritional supplements. As with any consumable product, there is great variation in the quality of all of these ingredients as well as variation in what is appropriate for different species. What many fail to realize is that improperly balanced nutrients can actually lead to a host of disease states, essentially creating toxicity within the body. To ensure maximum benefit, be certain that your nutritionist is explicit about cuts of meat and which supplements to purchase, and ensure that all of these questions are addressed:

1. What form should each supplement be in; liquid or powder?
2. What source is okay for each supplement; synthetic, natural, purified, etc.?
3. Are there certain varieties of supplements that should be avoided; Cod Liver Oil or Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil?
4. Are your personal dietary requirements being met; grain-free or vegetarian?
5. Which cuts of meat are optimal, acceptable and should be avoided; white meat, dark meat, lean or fat?

Food Preparation & Storage: Moderate – Intensive

If you’ve ever done batch cooking for your human family, you’ll have an idea what it’s like to make your own pet food. This exercise takes advance planning, time management, practice and possibly endurance depending on how large a batch is being made.

This time commitment will vary by recipe, quality of equipment being used, size of the batch being prepared, and with fine tuning over time.

Food Serving: Minimal

Home prepared foods are refrigerated or frozen and may require warming to room temperature to serve. At issue here is the commitment to the frequency of this task more so than the amount of time required.

Given the level of difficulty in preparing home meals, and the expertise to get the formulas right every time, this probably isn’t a viable option for most pet parents. If you’re seeking holistic nutrition plus convenience and value, I urge you to consider the premium nutrition offered by any of our Life’s Abundance pet foods.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks