Nutrition is a crucial part of your pet’s overall health and mainly relies on foods that ensure the pet lives a long and healthy. However, with an extensive pet food market, deciding the best food to feed your pet can take time. Whether looking for cat or dog food, it is essential to consider various factors to get the right pet food.
That said, this guide highlights practical ways to choose the right food for your pet friend while avoiding harmful foods that can affect your pet’s health.
Factors to Contemplate When Picking a Pet Food
Despite having access to a broad spectrum of pet food in the market today, deciding which food is appropriate for your dog or cat can be challenging. Here are some key factors to consider;
Your pet’s age plays a critical role in determining what they eat to stay healthy and live longer. For instance, dogs have varying nutritional needs at different stages of their lives. Providing healthy foods prepared for their current age ensures the provision of all the nutrients necessary for good health. Suppose you have a puppy; consider foods with high-quality protein essential for muscle growth and fish oil for brain development and trainability. For aging dogs, senior dog formula can come in handy.
In your journey to provide the best for your furry friend, make sure to explore these pet wellness insights when considering their dietary choices.
Large and giant breed pets may require foods rich in particular nutrients or elements to remain healthy compared to small and toy breed pets. Large dogs can benefit from foods rich in glucosamine and Omega-3 fatty acids that support healthy joints. On the other hand, small breeds are great candidates for foods with minimal, bite-sized kibble.
Specific Nutritional Needs
Dogs with food preferences or a condition sensitive to their skin may require specific nutritional needs to help improve their conditions. Creating personalized healthy pet food means considering foods that meet your pet’s specific needs to keep them healthy. Besides, this aims at avoiding foods that could worsen the condition or result in further damage.
Pets come in different shapes and sizes, some being more athletic than others. This means more active pets like dogs tend to burn more calories daily. In such instances, providing nutrient-dense foods to more active and athletic pets is essential, but consider weight management foods for less active pets. Here, get to know your pet, whether active or less active, to buy the right food and ensure they remain healthy.
Home Cooked Vs. Commercial Food
Commercial store-bought pet foods tend to comprise all vital elements, making them nutritious and the best option for feeding pets. These foods ensure pets live happy, healthy, and longer because they get a balanced diet. On the other hand, home-cooked foods for pets can also be beneficial, provided you consider various aspects. Consulting your veterinarian can help you decide which cat or dog food to prepare at home.
Complete and Balanced
Another critical factor to consider when choosing food for your pets is evaluating if it has all the appropriate nutrients. This means checking if the food is tailored and tested to have the necessary vitamins, amino acids, minerals, fatty acids, and other essential elements for your pet. The intent is to purchase food that ensures healthy growth without deficiencies, especially regarding age, size, and activity level.
How to Read a Pet Food Label
When purchasing cat or dog food, it is essential to check the label for crucial information about the food. However, it can be challenging to read the label, especially for new pet owners. Some of the information found on the pet food label includes the following;
- Product name
- Product’s net weight
- The manufacturer’s name and address
- Guaranteed Analysis
- List of ingredients
- Feeding guidelines
- Statement of nutritional adequacy
- Intended animal species
The product name refers to what the bag or can contains. ‘Beef’ means the pet food is at least 70 percent beef, with ‘beef dinner’ or ‘beef platter’ suggesting the beef is about 10 percent of the entire content. ‘With beef’ often indicates the food is about three percent beef of the total food, while ‘beef flavor’ means the pet food has enough beef to flavor it. The same applies to other pet food cans or bags, such as chicken.
A dog food label with an ingredient list doesn’t often tell ingredient quantity or where they originate from. Some pet food manufacturers split the ingredients for equal distribution; for instance, various types of corn, like ground corn, kibbled corn, and flaked corn, are listed independently. This can reduce the amount of ingredients despite the actual quantity being corn in the food.
Similarly, whole meat cans or bags have a huge percentage of water weight, implying the overall percentage of meat is lower after processing. On the contrary, meat meal often contains more meat compared to ‘whole meats’ pet food because they don’t have water weight.
‘Complete and Balanced’ Pet Foods
One of the most important things to check on a pet food label is the ‘Name of the Product’ designed to meet nutritional levels as mandated by the AAFCO. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requires pet food manufacturers to include complete and balanced products in both cat and dog food.
Complete and balanced pet foods often contain the minimum amount of all nutrients required, also indicated under the ‘guaranteed analysis’ label. It provides the minimum crude protein and fat amount, including the maximum amount of crude fiber and water. You can also consider using the manufacturer’s average nutrient profile to determine the product and its nutrient elements. In some cases, contacting the pet food company can help get more information about their products.
Whether your pet is large or small, young or old, or active or less active, you have a broad selection of food choices to give them and guarantee their health and happiness. However, it is essential to consider various factors to ensure you provide the right food with an adequate amount of nutrients. Above are some key factors to help you choose the right food for your pet.