Healthy Foods Mean Healthier Pets:
Four Steps to Selecting the Right Nutrition for Your Pet
Would you feed a baby fried chicken? Or eat salty junk food if you had high blood pressure or heart problems? Of course not.
You know proper nutrition plays an important role in your overall health, and the same goes for your pet. Understanding the complexities of nutrition goes well beyond merely reading a list of ingredients- your veterinarian is your best source for nutrition recommendations. Too little or too much of certain nutrients can be detrimental to a pet’s health, and the ideal amount varies, depending on life stage, activity level and health condition.
Just like people, every animal has special nutritional needs, and one size doesn’t fit all. For example, foods made especially to meet the requirements of a growing puppy aren’t appropriate for an older dog whose heart is stressed from age.
Our veterinarians are here to help you select the best food for your pet’s age, breed and lifestyle. We are always available if you have any questions about your pet’s food, and here are four tips to help you select the right nutrition for your pet:
1. Remember, More isn’t Always Better
Remember more nutrients aren’t always better in pet nutrition — many nutrients are actually toxic in excessive amounts! Every dog and cat has unique nutritional needs based on age, health and activity level.
2. Know the Six Nutrient Groups
As in human nutrition, a body needs nutrients — from ingredients — like protein, fat and fiber to function. Ingredients are simply vehicles that deliver this mixture of nutrients to the body. When choosing the ingredients for pet food, keep a eye on the total nutrient balance of ingredients. Here are the six nutrient groups for your reference:
- Water: The most critical nutrient for survival.
- Proteins: Main element of body tissues like muscles, blood, skin, organs, hair and nails.
- Carbohydrates: Provide energy for the body’s tissues.
- Fats: Absorb, store and transport vitamins, moisturize skin and coat, make healthy pet food taste great and supply energy.
- Vitamins: Assist in maintaining an animal’s metabolism.
- Minerals: Necessary to develop healthy skin and hair, proper skeletal support and development. Minerals are usually abundant in pet food ingredients.
3. Compare “Apples to Apples”
Make cost comparisons on a “per feeding” basis using feeding directions rather than a cost “per bag”. This is important because pet foods recommend different feeding amounts based on the amount of energy in their food.
4. Know your Pet’s Lifestage
When selecting a food, make sure the product is appropriate for your pet’s age and lifestyle. Feeding your pet properly is more involved than following instructions on a bag or can. Feeding guides should be used only as a starting point, and food amounts must be adjusted to meet the changing needs of your dog or cat. Use a product designed for your pet’s age. Ages are broken down into these categories: Kitten/Puppy – up to 1 yr; Adult Cat/Dog – 1-6 years; Senior Cat/Dog – over 6 years. Also keep in mind whether your pet is especially active or prone to gaining weight easily.