Pet food is a difficult area to navigate as a pet owner. Cats may get a bad reputation about being fussy eaters, but you’d think from your dogs’ interest in all kinds of foods that their diet isn’t something you need to put much effort into. Yet the food you serve can have a drastic impact on any family pet.
The issue we often face when choosing the right pet food is that the market is full of alternatives. Supermarket shelves, television commercials and pet stores all have stories about a pet’s diet that lead us to believe the choices are simple.
Yet there are a few pitfalls when choosing pet food, you need to consider. Let’s break them down
Taste isn’t an indicator of health
When you see pet food advertising, a lot of this conversation centres around taste. It’s talking about impressing fussy eaters or the pet in question being excited about the food. Let’s put that into perspective.
Pets are a lot like children when it comes to food. What they advocate for may not be the best nutritional choice available for them. Like a child, a pet may need time to develop an appreciation of certain foods. They may lean towards unhealthy foods. We all know the struggle of trying to convince a child vegetables are a viable option. Especially when there is something else on the menu.
That doesn’t mean what the child wants is the best for the child’s future. And the same is true of what we feed our pets. The appeal a food may have for a pet’s palate doesn’t indicate the food is great for the pet.
When looking at advertising of popular pet foods, a claim about popularity or taste doesn’t mean the food is necessarily of good quality. Taste is not an indicator of nutritional value and therefore, it shouldn’t replace understanding the healthy qualities of the food you are serving your pet.
Foundation versus variety
Pet foods can be high in saturated fats, high in sodium and low on nutrients. Sometimes, we might indulge our diet with junk food. Yet the junk food is the rare moment in our diet overall.
If you choose a particular style of food, it usually forms the main staple of their diet. It’s often the only thing pet parents serve at main meals. This could mean that you are feeding your pet the food that should be the occasional treat on a regular basis.
Pet obesity often comes down to two things- the amount of the food a pet receives, and the quality of the food given. When the mainstay of your pet’s diet isn’t meeting their nutritional needs, it can promote weight gain. It can also rob their body of vital nutrients. Both of which make it increasingly difficult to keep your pet healthy.
You don’t need to cook gourmet meals with lots of variety to feed your pet well. Often, it comes down to choosing the right food. This means picking up food from the vet hospital shop as opposed to the supermarket.
That way, you can be assured that the products you are feeding your beloved pet supports their health.
Not all pets have the same diet
When you come into our vet clinic or visit a pet store, you’ll notice the difference between puppy, dog and senior dog. Or kitten, cat and senior cat. We may not notice the other distinctions between pet foods on the market.
Eating age appropriate food helps your pet stay healthy. For an example, an adult dog mistakenly fed puppy food won’t get the right amount of nutrients and may end up leaner than they should be. A puppy receiving senior food will miss out on calories whereas a senior dog eating puppy food may put on weight.
Diet also supports medical conditions as well as breed specific requirements. For example, some pets have issues with their digestion or require better bone support. Others may have sensitive skin that needs extra nutrients. Some pets can even have allergies that lead to sensitive skin, rashes and other side effects if it’s not the right food for them.
Choosing the right diet can help reduce the impact of conditions, support healing, give greater options as your pet ages and help manage allergies. Adopting the view that food is part of the medicine for your pet can make a world of difference.
You can always head into our vet clinic in Wahroonga for advice on the right food to feed your pet.
Pet food needs accompaniments
To maintain a balanced diet, your pet would benefit from additional food items. When looking to treat your pet, don’t reach for the pre-packed treats.
Dogs can enjoy apple slices and carrots with peanut butter right along with you.
Cooked eggs (not raw) can be a great cat treat. Pumpkin can help with fibre issues and banana can be the occasional treat.
When feeding your pets human food, do make sure you know what is healthy and how much is appropriate. For example, grapes and onions can be extremely bad for your pet. Chicken can be a great treat but be mindful of cooking practices as well as bones that may become choking or internal damage hazards.
Unsure what to choose and what you shouldn’t? Check out our nutrition page and the blog- or drop on in on our Wahroonga animal hospital and see what’s in our store.
Your pet is what they eat
Pet food is the fuel that allows your pet to grow, play and do all the wonderful things you want to do together. That’s why choosing the right pet food for your pet is so important.
As always, if you need advice on choosing the right supplementary foods for your furry, finned or feathered BFF, ask one of the friendly vet nurses at Fox Valley Animal Hospital to help you.