We know pet parents want to provide their furry friends with proper nutrition. With countless options available, finding the perfect pet food can be overwhelming. But fear not! We’re here to help you navigate through the choices, considering your pet’s unique needs. A balanced diet ensures a shiny coat, strong bones, and a healthy immune system, promoting a long and joyful life together. Let’s embark on this journey of mindful pet parenting and discover the key to a thriving furry companion through proper pet food selection.
Your Pet’s Nutritional Needs
Just as your pet is unique in their personality, they can be unique in their nutritional needs. It’s important to choose pet food that meets the specific requirements of your furry friend. Consider their age, breed, size, and any health conditions they may have. For example, puppies and kittens have different nutritional needs than adult dogs and cats, and certain breeds may have specific dietary requirements.
Consider Pet Foods for Your Pet’s Stage of Life
Like people, pets have different nutritional needs depending on their life stage. Pet foods are usually formulated for either of three stages of life:
Growth and Reproduction
All Life Stages
Pet food for Growth and Reproduction is for growing young dogs or cats, usually less than a year old, and also for pregnant and nursing dogs. Adult maintenance means that pet food meets the nutritional needs of adult pets. Generally, “adult” means one year or older. A pet food labeled for all life stages meets the dietary requirements for adult, young and pregnant/nursing pets.
Read the Ingredients List
When choosing pet food, read the ingredients list carefully to know what’s in the food you’re giving your pet. Look for good stuff like real meat, fruits, and veggies. Avoid foods with a high content of fillers, artificial colors, and preservatives. Also, watch out for things that your pet might be allergic to.
Check for Quality and Safety Certifications
When choosing your pet’s food, reading, and understanding the labels is important to ensure you make the best choice. Look for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on the label. AAFCO establishes guidelines for ingredient product labels, feeding trials, and laboratory analyses of the nutrients that go into pet foods. The AAFCO statement is generally found near the ingredient list and guaranteed analysis but may be elsewhere on the bag. An example of a statement from AAFCO may look something like this:
“Brand A dog food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for the maintenance of adult dog.”
You may have heard that the FDA is in the process of an on-going investigation of a potential dietary link between grain-free pet foods and heart disease. They are looking into specifically a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). For this reason, we DO NOT recommend grain free diets.
Get Familiar with Calorie Requirements
Pay attention to the calories in your pet’s food. Here is some advice from Hills Pet Food regarding pet food calories:
Calorie needs vary by pet (for both cats and dogs), so make sure to speak with your veterinarian to determine the proper caloric intake for your pet.
Calories should be listed on the side of the can or bag, just like they are for most human foods. Expect to see them listed as “kCals” or kilocalories, which is a more scientifically accurate term for calories.
Pet Foods for Pets with Allergies and Sensitivities
We discussed food allergies in our blog, Allergies in Pets and How to Manage Them. Common pet allergens include wheat, corn, soy, and particular proteins like chicken or beef. If your pet has a known allergy or sensitivity to any of these ingredients, choosing a pet food that is free from them is essential. Pet food brands like Hills and Royal Canine offer specialized formulas for pets with allergies or sensitivities. These formulas often use alternative protein sources, such as duck or rabbit, and avoid common allergens. You can also look for pet foods labeled as “hypoallergenic” or “limited ingredient” to ensure they do not contain any potential triggers for your pet’s allergies.
The Right Pet Food Can Help with Some Medical Conditions
Just as the wrong diet can lead to a medical condition in a pet, such as obesity or diabetes, the reverse is true – proper nutrition can help relieve some medical conditions. Along with the right medications, a proper diet can manage some medical conditions in a pet, such as:
- Bladder Stones
- Heart Disease
Consult with Your Veterinarian
Choosing the right pet food for your furry friend can be tricky, especially if they have allergies or medical issues. At Hillsboro Advanced Veterinary Care our veterinarians are trained in pet nutrition and can give you expert advice based on your pet’s medical history and recommend the best diet for them. If your pet needs special food due to allergies or other concerns, we proudly offer both Hill’s Science Diet prescription dog and cat food and Royal Canine therapeutic diets. So please, don’t hesitate to get in touch; we’ll connect you with one of our experienced veterinarians. Always remember your pet’s health is closely linked to their diet, so it’s essential to make it a top priority.
Your Friendly Team
Hillsboro Advanced Veterinary Care