Your message has been sent. We will contact you shortly if your message requires a response.
Nutrition seriously affects pet health, and every pet’s needs are individual. Weight management is one of the most critical factors in maintaining pet health. Giving your pet unlimited access to food (free feeding) is one of the worst things you can do. Precisely measuring your pet’s food at each meal gives you better control over their intake and will make it easier to track if there are any changes in your pet’s appetite. Markedly increased or decreased appetite can indicate various medical problems, so it is important to monitor your pet’s food intake. During a routine exam, we can discuss the appropriate amount of food to be offering your pet based on breed, activity level, and current weight. Remember that overweight pets are more likely to suffer from arthritis, certain cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and skin problems.
Choosing a diet for your pet
Always look for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) label on the bag when purchasing any kind of pet food. While AAFCO has no regulatory authority, the Association provides a forum of experts that safeguard the health of humans and animals, ensure consumers are protected, and provide a level playing field of orderly commerce for the animal feed industry. If you see that AAFCO label on your pet’s food, you know that the diet has been carefully evaluated for safety, nutrition, and to ensure that it is completely balanced with all of the nutrients your pet requires.
Myths and misconceptions about pet foods are rampant, especially since anyone can share information on the internet whether it is accurate or not. Remember also when you see pet foods advertised that there is very little regulation in the pet food industry, so some companies are more reputable than others. Some common terms you may see misused in advertisements are:
· Holistic or Organic – The terms Holistic and Organic are NOT defined by the USDA when applied to pet foods, therefore any pet food labelled with these claims do not have to prove that the food or ingredients are organic or holistic. Thus, if you see these labels on your pet’s food it means nothing—this is all a marketing strategy by pet food companies!
· Grains – Unlike in humans, there has been no scientific evidence that grains cause allergies in dogs or cats. Certain types of grains can be a healthy source of carbohydrates and other necessary nutrients for your pet. “Grain-free” is another label that is used by pet food companies as a marketing tactic, and does not necessarily indicate a healthier food for your pet.
· Corn – In recent years, corn has been increasingly marketed as a low-quality filler in pet foods, but this is simply not the case. In reality, corn provides a nutritious, affordable source of carbohydrates for energy, essential amino acids and fatty acids for a healthy coat, skin, and overall body function. It is very uncommon for pets to develop an allergy to corn.
· By-Products – This is another term that some companies have tried to link to a negative connotation by making pet owners think that by-products are low-quality, unhealthy, or unsafe for their pets. Once again, this is simply not the case. By-products of various common protein sources often contain very good nutritional value, and must be deemed safe and free from any contamination in order to be utilized in pet foods. By-products are simply parts of a food-producing animal that are not packaged for human consumption, but are perfectly safe and healthy.
Keep in mind that a pet food classification does not dictate superiority. Many pet food manufacturers market their natural or organic foods as being better than pet foods with by-product, but that isn’t always the case. Some organic and natural foods lack the vitamins and minerals that a food with by-product can offer. The main goal of pet food is to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet; this can be obtained with the right pet food, regardless of what category it fits into. If you need help choosing proper pet food, our veterinary staff will happily provide you with our recommendations.
Prescription diets are created to augment nutritional needs for pets dealing with illness or disease. These diets can be fed only under a veterinarian’s supervision. A variety of manufacturers design pet food specifically for pets suffering from allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, and more. If you think a medicated diet would benefit your pet, contact our office today.
Common pet food concerns
Q: Is there a significant difference between puppy food, adult dog food, and senior dog food? Or is there a substantial difference between kitten food, adult cat food, and senior cat food?
A: Young pets, adults, and elderly animals all have different nutritional needs, and therefore need different diets. Puppies and kittens need higher proteins and more fats, while elderly pets have lower calorie requirements and may develop other specific dietary needs as they age. Neglecting to acknowledge your pet’s specific nutritional needs could result in negative health effects.
Q: How do I know if my pet has a food allergy? And what do I do next?
A: Some food allergies can result in chronic, year-round ear infections or skin problems and cause your pet significant discomfort. Other pets may show gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or weight loss. If you think your pet may suffer from food allergies, please consult with our veterinarians about which food may be appropriate for your pet’s particular situation.
Q: Can my pet benefit from a raw diet or homemade meals?
A: Because raw meats can contain high levels of bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella it is recommended that you do not feed your pet raw meat. These bacteria can make some pets sick, and can potentially infect family members as well. Children and immunocompromised people are particularly susceptible to developing bacterial infections, and can be exposed through contact with the raw diet, food bowls, or through the pet’s feces. While a raw diet can provide an abundance of protein, some lack in other vital nutrients and can be harmful to older pets.
Homemade meals can be beneficial for your pet when prepared by a licensed pet nutritionist. When properly balanced, a homemade diet can be beneficial, but unless you have consulted with a licensed veterinary nutritionist, preparing your own meals can be harmful to your pet. Our veterinarians can help you formulate a balanced homemade diet for your pet.
Q: Are there pet treats meant for obese animals?
A: While most pet treats are usually high in fat and calories, there are options for overweight animals. You must also be sure to limit the number of treats that are given—your pet’s balanced diet should comprise the vast majority of his or her calorie intake. Many times, too many treats or table scraps play a large role in causing pet obesity. Some pets enjoy baby carrots or frozen green beans in moderation as a healthy and tasty snack. Our veterinarians and staff can provide other ideas of over the counter treats for your pet, based on his or her individual needs.
If you need help formulating a weight loss plan, think that your pet may be showing symptoms of food allergies, or have any other questions regarding your pet’s diet, please contact our office for an appointment today.