Chasing Tails Mobile Vet By: Megan Wood, LVT
We have all been in this situation. Standing in your local pet food center overwhelmed by all the options of dog food. Big bags, little bags, and some you have seen on TV. No doubt you want what is best for your pet companion, but how do you narrow down the search? There are a few key things that can help you find the best food formula for your furry friend.
First, let’s discuss the types of foods available on the market. Sure there is wet food and dry food. However, over the last few years, many new categories of foods have entered the market. We are familiar with Commercial diets and Veterinary Prescription Diets. But now we also need to sift through diets that are Limited Ingredients, Premium Diets, or Holistic. Some Pet food companies do a very good job of marketing and making sure you see their product on TV or in magazines. They do this so that way when you go to the store their packaging is familiar to you and you are more likely to purchase that product. Unfortunately, when you examine the ingredients of these products they are not as pure or balanced as portrayed. The first step of being able to compare is to look at the food label and its ingredients.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that sets the standards, regulations, policies, and definitions for pet food. These policies have helped develop profiles of ideal nutrition for dogs and puppies. In 2016 the AAFCO put new pet food label changes into effect. They required all companies to include guaranteed analysis (quantity of protein, fat, fiber, and moisture) in descending order by weight, nutritional adequacy, and feeding instructions including a statement on caloric content. Knowing this, looking for a food company that exceeds AAFCO guidelines is a great start. Be sure to select the right life stage for your pet. It is recommended puppies and kittens eat puppy or kitten formula until 1 year of age. When looking at the pet food label we would like to see meat-based items listed as the first two or three ingredients. We also want to see grains and corn. Grain-Free diets have been linked to causing Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) leading to heart failure. Other important ingredients to look for are Taurine (an essential amino acid) and Omega Fatty Acids (fish oils). All these items will contribute to a balanced diet for your pet.
Once you have narrowed your search you may choose what is most delicious to your pet! If you know they love chicken give the chicken formula a try. A good idea is to buy a small bag first to ensure it is a hit at home before buying a big bag. If you are switching diets, be sure to make the transition slowly as to not cause gastric upset. This can be achieved by adding the new food in at each meal. Over a week you will add more new food and less of the old until they are fully transitioned.
It is important to note that every pet has unique nutritional needs. A diet that may be great for one dog may cause issues in another. Asking your Veterinarian for food recommendations is always encouraged. This is especially true if your pet has any medical conditions that may require a medically supervised diet. We are always happy to look over your pet’s diet and make recommendations on House Calls at Chasing Tails Vet.