When you get a new pet, it can be easy to find the right collar to accent their personality or to find the right sized crate or the perfect cat tree. One piece that can be daunting for every owner is when they walk toward the pet food aisle of any store. In the last ten years we have seen an explosion of brands and varieties of food available for our beloved pets. Amidst all of the advertising and labels it can be easy to get lost and lose sight of what is actually important when feeding your pet. We have compiled four simple tips to help you select the right diet to keep your pet healthy and happy. Read on to learn more:
1. NO brand is the best brand:
Owner’s always like to ask “Which brand do you recommend”? Unfortunately, there is no good answer to that question. Every brand has a variety of diets which might be great, or less than ideal. For this reason, we prefer to direct owners to AAFCO.org. The Association of American Feed Control Officials is a voluntary group of local, state, and federal agencies which regulates animal diets. This association has performed research into what animals need to be healthy, and they also perform food trials with specific diets to ensure they support a healthy pet. Foods can either be labeled as “formulated for” or “tested in feed trials”. Formulated means it contains certain ingredients, but it does not ensure these ingredients have been proven to be bio-available to the animal after ingestion. A diet that has been tested ensures that the nutritional needs are present both in the diet and are absorbed by your pet after ingestion.
To determine if your pet’s food is AAFCO approved or tested, look at the nutrition label for one of these two phrases:
- Brand X Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.
- Animal feeding tests using Association of American Feed Control officials (AAFCO) procedures substantiate that Brand X Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult cats/dogs.
2. Age changes nutrient needs:
Puppies require very different nutritional and caloric contents than adults or seniors. Make sure to pick a diet that is labeled for your pet’s appropriate life stage.
3. Pick a flavor your pet enjoys!
- Switching diets can often cause gastrointestinal upset such as diarrhea and vomiting. For this reason, picking a diet your pet enjoys is important, as switching can require a transition period.
- Specialty diets such as Grain Free or Novel Proteins are not necessary for the average pet. Research has shown that in the rare cases of a food allergy, the main allergen is usually a protein source, not a grain. If you think your pet might have a food associated allergy, please consult your veterinarian to form a food trial plan that best fits your pet.
- Make sure to give preference to dry diets. Dry food is better for your pet’s teeth and helps minimize dental disease (a very common disease among pets with serious consequences, a topic for another blog).
4. Calories add up!
Once you have chosen a diet for your pet it is important to recognize that every diet has different feeding recommendations based on the calories per cup. Make sure to always look at the bag for the recommended amount to feed per day based on your pet’s ideal healthy weight. Another great resource for determining how much to feed your pet is: http://www.petnutritionalliance.org/
This website has resources to help you create an ideal nutrition plan for your pet to ensure they stay fit and healthy!
If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask any of our veterinarians at Regional. We will gladly help you and your pets needs. Call our office at 888.830.8844.