How to Choose a Healthy Diet for Your Pet
Nutrition is the foundation of health, but selecting the right food for your pet can be tough. There hundreds of pet food brands and endless varieties to choose from. Plus, each bag of kibble, packet of treats, or can of wet food has its own marketing, making health and quality claims. With all the flashy packaging and choices, how can you tell which pet foods are actually the healthiest?
Consider Your Pet's Individual Needs and Choose a High-Quality Pet Food
The first consideration to make when choosing your pet’s food is to select a high-quality brand with high-quality ingredients. Check the product’s nutrition label and look for whole, quality ingredients, like chicken. The FDA requires that pet foods be labeled honestly and list all ingredients.
When selecting a food for your pet, it’s also important to consider their individual needs. Of course, you should choose food that’s formulated for your pet’s species. It’s also important to consider the age of your pet and, depending on their life stage, select a food that’s been formulated for puppies, adults, or senior dogs.
If your pet has dental disease, joint problems, or weight concerns, there are also pet food formulations that contain ingredients designed to help with these health problems.
Ignore the Grain-Free Diet Hype
While cats are true carnivores, dogs are actually omnivores, and they need a well-rounded diet that includes certain nutrients from plant-based foods. Along with the rise of humans adopting grain-free and gluten-free diets, pet food manufacturers began marketing grain-free pet food options. There’s no evidence, however, that grain-free options are actually healthier for dogs, and there’s even some evidence that these types of diets might even be harmful to dogs.
Since 2014, the FDA began receiving increased reports of dogs developing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). (DCM is a canine heart disease that reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood and can be fatal.) Of these dogs, the FDA found that 91% were on grain-free diets, and 93% were eating foods that replaced grains with lentils, peas, and other legumes.
The development of DCM might be related to a taurine deficiency in dogs eating a grain-free diet with legumes, but the exact reason why these types of diets/ingredients seem to be associated with an increased risk of DCM is not yet fully understood.
Schedule a Nutrition Consultation to Set Up a Safe, Personalized Nutrition Plan for Your Pet Today
If you’re uncertain about the type of pet food to choose for your cat or dog, we welcome you to schedule a nutrition consultation with a veterinarian at Animal Wellness Center. We can recommend a prescription pet food for a pet with allergies or other dietary medical concerns. We’re also available to help you pick a high-quality brand and formulation that’s available at any pet supply store.