Us pet parents only want the best for our furbabies. But with so many pet food available in the market, how do we know which is best for them? Here are some helpful tips for the things you’ll need to consider:
1. What kind of pet food?
Not all pet food is created equal. Be aware of the different categories of pet food in the market to be able to narrow down your search to the best food in the right category. There are three categories of pet food, namely:
Commercial pet food - found in grocery stores and mass-market retailers. These are typically made with lower-quality, less-digestible, inexpensive ingredients and are therefore cheaper. While easy on the wallet, it normally does not provide your dog with the healthiest, most nutrient-dense ingredients.
Premium pet food - found in grocery stores, pet stores, and veterinarian offices. It contains higher-grade ingredients, but may still include artificial colors, artificial flavors, chemical preservatives, and filler ingredients. Premium food is usually more expensive than grocery store food because their ingredients are of higher quality, and are more beneficial and digestible.
All-natural pet food – Using fresh fruits, vegetables, and real meat as the primary protein source, all-natural food is formulated to provide optimum health benefits for pets without artificial preservatives, flavors, or color. It uses the best natural sources for fatty acids to help build healthy skin and coat and is fortified with additional vitamins and minerals. While healthy food costs more than other types of pet food, you can feed them less since it’s more nutrient-dense than other types.
2. Wet or Dry?
There has been a long debate on whether it is better to feed your pet dry or canned food, but it all boils down to your pet’s needs and your budget. Dry food is much easier to store and measure, more affordable, more energy dense, and helps ensure firm stools but is less palatable. Wet food, on the other hand, is messy, more expensive, and spoils easily but is much more palatable and contains 75% water compared to dry food, which only contains around 10% water. This makes it a convenient (and yummy) source of hydration especially since some cats don’t drink water regularly, preventing urinary tract problems. Wet food is also a good choice for picky eaters, senior pets who have lost some of their olfactory senses, pets who are ill and cannot smell well or is lacking appetite. Both types of food have their pros and cons, but either is good, given that it is well balanced and is made with high quality ingredients. Another option is mixing dry and wet food in the bowl for a more affordable way of making dry food more palatable.
3. How old is your pet?
Pets’ nutritional needs vary depending on their stage of life. Make sure you choose food that’s suited for your pet’s age. Puppies and kittens will need higher amounts of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals for proper growth. An adult dog or cat eating puppy or kitten food is likely to become overweight. Older cats and dogs, on the other hand, need food that is more easily digested to ease the processing burden on their kidneys.
4. How about your pet’s health history?
Ask your veterinarian to perform a body condition evaluation to make sure your pet’s weight is on track. See what advice they can provide based on your pet’s current health and be sure to check if they have a particular health problem that is affected by diet such diabetes, kidney disease, pancreatitis and food allergy. Remember to choose food that is appropriate for their condition to avoid making it worse.
5. Do you read the labels?
By law, pet food labels must list their ingredients in order by weight. Look for food with meat, fish, or eggs listed as the first ingredient since they have a high percentage of protein in the form of digestible and usable amino acids. Cats, especially, are obligate carnivores requiring nutrients such as taurine and arachidonic acid to be supplied in their diet which is only present in animal sources.
6. So, what’s the verdict?
Check your pet’s health after feeding the food for at least a month. Bright eyes, a shiny coat, and a healthy energy level will let you know you’ve chosen a good source for your pet’s nutrition. Congratulations!
Sources: drfostersmith; peteducation; petmd