Today’s pet foods, just like many human foods, are advertised and marketed with an excess of claims about health benefits and a plethora of appeals to desires for our dog’s health and well-being. We tell ourselves that we pay attention to pet food promotions and educational pamphlets because we wish to learn more about a food and to determine if a product meets the nutritional criteria that we feel are essential for our dog’s activity level, life stage and health. However, while there are indeed many food criteria that are important and are supported by scientific evidence, these are often exceeded in the marketplace by pet food claims that exist solely as marketing propaganda. The trick for the informed dog owner is figuring out where the science ends and the marketing hype begins. In this half-day seminar, we examine pet food label and advertising campaigns and the science that is (and is not) behind nutrition and health claims that are made for commercial pet foods. We will take a close look at how various sources of information and appeals to our emotions may influence the purchasing decisions that we make for our dogs. Attendees will learn how advertising claims are regulated (or not regulated) and to distinguish between evidence-based nutrition information and advertising ploys when selecting a food for their dog. A wide variety of examples will be presented and attendees will have the opportunity to assess and discuss a range of label claims and advertising appeals. Learning to critically evaluate information about nutrition and to ask the right questions about a food or health claim can help owners and pet professionals to make informed decisions about food and can help to prevent us all from falling for “super foods with super claims”.
Recognize the concepts of pet food advertising claims and appeals, and the presence of marketing niches in the world of dog food (and when these differentiators matter or not).
Develop critical thinking skills that will aid in distinguishing between information about nutrition and dog foods that is evidence-based versus information that is promoted primarily as an advertising gimmick or appeal to pet owner emotions.
Distinguish between nutrition criteria that are known to be important for dogs’ well-being and health and those that are promoted on pet food labels and in advertising but which have little or no scientific support.