People are passionate about what they feed their pets. And, of course the manufacturer knows it! Check out the advertising- really does your cat know the difference between fish shaped kibble and square shaped kibble? As a Bradford veterinarian, I understand how confused my clients are about the vast wealth of pet food information, or misinformation that is out there.
You see that cute cuddly puppy eating its bowl of food willingly then wiggling over to jump in its guardian’s arms and lick their face. That is what you need for your dog- because you love your dog and you want your dog to love you.
And, how overwhelming is it when you walk into that pet store and surf the aisles and look at all the pretty bags in all the lovely colors with words like gourmet, organic, all natural, grain free, no byproducts, human grade, corn free,no artificial colors/flavors? You absorb those words and admire the plump boneless skinless chicken breast, blueberries and carrots on it and double check the ingredient list. Meat is the first so of course you purchase it. t must be the best. Or is it?
And, if you really really love your pet, you cook for it just like you do the rest of the family. That is what is best, right? Or maybe you just add some of your dinner on top of his kibble because otherwise he will not eat and that means he doesn’t love you. Unless of course you feed raw because that is what dogs were meant to eat- not dry kibble out of a bag, right? What kind of a wolf eats kibble, let alone corn out of a corn field? Am I right?
There is no shortage of ways to feed your pet and this is an emotionally charged topic. Everyone seems to have an opinion.
I have been struggling to write this blog for a couple of weeks now. There is a wealth of information out there and I wanted to have a look and provide you with a synopsis on pet food and pet food labels. I am a veterinarian. I am educated. I know what to look for. I am overwhelmed too! So, here is the first part of the pet food labels discussion. Stay on the lookout for part 2.
One of the most important things is to remember that not every food works for every dog. If your pet does not have good energy, lacks a lustrous coat, has underlying health problems and their coat lacks luster or their breath is stinky then the food they currently eat may not be working well for them and you may want to consider a change. That said, there might be factors that are to be taken into account. Do you have the time to make your own dog’s food? Can you afford the best kibble out there? How many pets do you have at home?
Typically, better quality foods are most costly. And when it comes to food, you usually get what you pay for. This is not always as simple as it seems either. If you are comparing two foods by price alone (lets forget even about nutrient analysis), first figure out the cost per day. It doesn’t make sense to compare the basic cost of two $50 50 lb bags of food and assume they are the same price if one will feed you dog for 6 weeks and the other for 4 weeks. The truth is, even for a prescription food for a giant breed dog, the daily cost is usually only a couple dollars a day – less than Starbucks or Timmies coffee, if you wish.
Food companies sell food. The more you feed, the more they sell. So, while the recommendations on the bag should provide some sort of guidelines, they are just this: recommendations. Please consult with your veterinarian and assess your pet’s body condition score to determine his/her individual needs. Not all pets have the same caloric requirement.
Please feed your pet a food that is specific for their lifestage. Of course, it should go without saying that growing animals do not have the same dietary requirements as senior pets or nursing mothers. Adults and geriatric dogs should not be on a diet formulated for those growing, pregnant or lactating as these individuals have nutrient needs in excess of adults and seniors. What about breed specific diets? It’s a marketing ploy. That said, some dogs of similar sizes can be prone to specific issues (eg., large breed dogs and osteoarthritis or small dogs and bladder stones). Your veterinarian can identify issues that are pertinent for your pet as he/she evaluates your pet as a whole, not just as an individual breed.