Finding the Best Food for Your Pet
When it comes to caring for our pets, ensuring that they are well fed is a pretty basic requirement. Yet, many owners pay very little attention to the quality of food that they give their animals.
Many people believe that if something it more expensive, then to justify that price it must be better quality. While this may be true for some goods, when it comes to food – and especially pet food – spending more certainly doesn’t always mean that you are actually providing the best nutrition for your animals.
The marketing game
One of the biggest problems with choosing products, whether it be in the supermarket, the drug store or even at the mall, is that we are easily persuaded by marketing. Bright-colored, eye-catching packaging and bold claims are more likely to grab our attention and make us believe that those products are superior. Therefore, the bigger the marketing budget of a brand of pet food, the more likely they are to be on our radar when it comes to making the choice as to which to buy.
Buzzwords such as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’, trick our minds into believing that products are healthier, but the fact remains that all pet food products are processed. Owners need to remember that the same ‘qualities’ we look for in the labels for our own food products are not necessarily the same phrases that indicate that the produce is nutritionally valuable for your pet.
But, how many of us check what ingredients are actually included in these products? After all, the can/bag/pouch/portion of food that we dish out every day tends to be the only food that we offer. As such, as responsible pet owners, we need to be sure that all of the daily macro and micro-nutritional needs of our pets can be met in that single serving.
That means proteins, fats, and carbs, as well as the right vitamins and minerals to support the health and wellbeing of your animal.
So, what should I look for in pet food?
Once you get past the packaging, the small print is where you should be looking to help you determine if a food really is good for your pet.
Cats and dogs thrive on meat-based diets and have no need for carbohydrates. If grains are added to food it is used to bulk the meat out (because it’s cheaper) and hold it together. Whole food sources such as chicken, lamb, beef or turkey should be specifically named, and should be right at the top of the ingredients list.
The second ingredient of high-quality food will probably be labeled as a meat source followed by the word ‘meal’, such as ‘chicken meal’. This also indicates that the food is rich in good protein.
The next few ingredients on the list should be vegetables and a whole-grain source of carbohydrate. It is possible to buy grain-free formulas which are slightly better for your pet.
What should I avoid?
You should avoid buying any pet food that contains soy or corn in any form. Soy is bad for any animal’s endocrine system, and corn is a cheap, zero-nutrition filler that has been known to cause allergic reactions in many pets.
You should also walk away from any foods that have unspecified meat ingredients, as this often means that they contain animal by-products such as hooves, feathers and more.
Also check the label for artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives and flavors – some of which could also be known carcinogens. Foods containing these are not healthy for your pet.
If you are still unsure about how to find the best food for your pet, make an appointment to speak to Dr. Kenton who will be able to advise you further.