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Nutrition Team Blog

Complete, Complementary and Balanced Pet Foods

Published: Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Legally all pet foods and treats in the UK must be labelled either complete or complementary. We explain what the difference is and what to look for on pet food labels for dogs and cats when choosing food.

Complete Food for Dogs

If a food is complete this means that they contain all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals your cat or dog requires. You should not need to feed your pet any other foods if they are fed on a complete diet. Occasionally however, dogs or cats with a health issue may have special dietary requirements in which case they may need a specially formulated diet or additional supplements.

Complementary Food for Dogs

Complementary foods (such as our Hypoallergenic Mixer) are designed to be fed in conjunction with other foods. They do not contain all the nutrients your pet needs and if fed solely on a complementary food your pet may suffer from deficiencies. However, when fed alongside other foods they can help to ensure your pet is getting a balanced diet.

Complete Food for Cats

As mentioned previously, complete food will contain all the nutrients that your cat requires on a day to day basis. Cats have different nutritional requirements to dogs so a complete cat food is different to a complete dog food. Cats also differ to dogs as they often have the option to go elsewhere (to the neighbour’s house!) for food so he may not exclusively be eating what their owner gives them. This means you also have to keep an eye on their weight to make sure they are not getting too much food as well as trying to make sure they are getting a balanced diet.

Complementary Food for Cats

These foods are designed to be only a part of a cat's diet and do not contain all the nutrients a cat will need. Therefore they should be fed alongside a balanced diet. For cats, a complementary food is often a treat and should be fed in moderation.


Feeding a complete diet at the correct amount ensures your pet is getting all the nutrients they need. A complementary food should be given alongside other foods to try to ensure your cat or dog is having a balanced diet.

If you have any further questions as to whether to feed your cat or dog a complete or complementary food please contact our team of nutritionists on 0800 083 6696 or email on info@burnspet.co.uk

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