Pet food is more than just a collection of ingredients and nutrients. It plays a very serious part in the health and well-being of your pet. Remember the old saying, “You are what you eat”? The better the quality of food that your pet eats the more efficient your pet’s entire body will function. A well-balanced diet can lead to better skin and coat quality, stronger muscles and joints, and a healthy digestive system.

Typically, higher quality diets use better ingredients and fewer “fillers”. Less fillers lead to less yard waste (good news for you). Less waste means your pet is absorbing and using more of the ingredients in the food. Another benefit of the higher quality foods is that you can feed your pet smaller portions. Because they are often a bit more expensive than their lesser quality counterparts, this may reduce your overall food expenses.

Feeding requirements can differ from pet to pet. Just like people, your pet’s daily dietary needs are affected by their breed, the type of food fed, the amount of exercise they receive, their metabolic rate, age of the pet, etc. Meal feeding is recommended as opposed to leaving a bowl of food out and only refilling when it’s empty. This allows you to pick up on subtle shifts in your pet’s behavior that might indicate they are not feeling well. Missing one meal may not be a big sign, but missing two meals in a row could tip you off that something is not right.

Pet food as a medical tool

nutritionPet food can also aid in the management of specific medical conditions including diabetes, bladder stones, and pancreatitis. These therapeutic diets are formulated for a specific medical condition. This is why they are found only at veterinary clinics, not at pet stores. Sometimes pets are allergic to one or more ingredients found in commercially available diets. The most common allergens are the protein and/or carbohydrate source (i.e. chicken, corn). When this happens, your veterinarian will likely recommend that your pet eat a diet that includes a “novel” protein. A novel protein refers to a protein source (such as venison or duck) that your pet has not likely encountered in any other diet you’ve fed so their body does not react to it adversely.

Tips for feeding your pet

  • Feed a premium, nutritionally balanced food for your pet’s specific stage of life (puppy/kitten, adult, senior)
  • Adding human food to a nutritionally balanced pre-made (commercial) diet may upset the nutrient balance of your dog’s diet. Ideally table scraps should not be fed.
  • Don’t forget to account for the calories your pet consumes from treats. Treats and/or any human food fed should not account for more than 10% of your pet’s dietary intake.
  • Feed only enough food to keep your dog in a good body condition score, or BCS. According to Purina, good body condition is defined as an easily observable waist and the ribs can be felt with a slight fat covering over them.

References:

Royal Canin
Purina
“Best Dog Food Choices: Dry, Wet, Organic, and More”, by Elizabeth Lee, WebMD. Online. June 26, 2009
Healthy Dogs Guide, WebMd Online