Nutrition Choices for Your Pet
Choosing a food for your pet can be a very confusing task with so many choices that are available to consumers. There are many great food choices, but just as many poor ones. Store Brand foods top our list as having little benefit to a dog’s nutritional needs. It is very important to remember that you really get what you pay for when it comes to dog foods.
Dog foods that contain lots of coloring to the kibble can be upsetting to the GI tract of our canine friends due to the additives that make it that color. Once you find a diet that works well for your pet, it is also important not to switch brands or types of food if possible. As humans, our diets often thrive on variety , but pets are very content to always eat the same food. Along with so many choices in dog food brands, there are several varieties within each brand.
So what should you look for in a quality dog food? With so many terms out there such as “formulated”, “organic”, “holistic”, etc. it is hard to know where to start. One of the first things to look for is whether the food is labeled as having gone through an AAFCO Feeding Trial. These trials enure that the food you are feeding your pet is nutritionally balanced, and easily digestible. You want to avoid foods that are labeled as “formulated” as they have no scientific backing to the nutritional value. Be wary of foods that are labeled as “holistic” or “human grade” as they are held to no legal standards, and may contain any number of ingredients.
You also want to avoid foods that are labeled for “all life stages”. Your pet has different nutritional needs throughout the different stages of his/her life, and too much or too little of a nutrient can have negative effects. For example, too little protein can cause poor growth, but too much can cause stress to the kidneys. Not enough Magnesium can cause bone weakness, but too much can cause bladder stones. It is important to make sure the food you are feeding you puppy/kitten is labeled for growth, and the food you feed your adult pet is labeled adult maintenance. The adult maintenance diets are great for our 1-7 year old dog, but once a dog reaches his 7th birthday it is a good time to be thinking about switching to a Senior Diet.
There is lot of negative stigma attached to the term “by-products”, but by products are not always a bad thing. They are a common ingredient found in both human and pet food, and simply mean “a product produced during the making of something else”. For example, a by-product of soy beans is Vitamin E. Manufacturers of high-quality pet foods only use by-product components that add nutritional value and palatablity. There is a lot of myths about allergens in pet foods. The top two allergens for both cats and dogs are actually beef and dairy. Contrary to popular belief corn is not a common allergen in cats or dogs. It is actually highly digestible and is a good source of quality protein along with several other nutrients.
Therefore, while the better foods may cost a little bit more per bag, you feed less. The cost of feeding your average 40lb adult dog a Science Diet adult maintenance formula is about $1.08 per day. Your average 10lb adult cat can be fed for as little as $0.41 per day. As you can see there are numerous benefits to feeding higher quality foods.
The brands that we recommend are listed below and can usually be found at Wal-Mart, TSC, as well as Pet Smart and even here at Hartford Veterinary Services.
Hill’s Science Diet Eukanuba Purina Pro Plan
Iams Purina One