It’s easy to be so overwhelmed by the dozens of bags, boxes, and cans in the pet food aisle that you hastily reach for the one with the lowest price sticker or the most attractive label. But as mentioned in an earlier blog, not all pet food is created equal. The fact is, there are a ton of different foods on the market, for cats and dogs of all sizes, ages, and dietary needs. It’s easier to choose the right food for your cat or dog when you know what to look for.
Quality of ingredients
You can tell a lot about a pet food just by taking a closer look at the label. Check to make sure it contains the fatty acid DHA, which is essential in developing the brain and nervous system, especially in younger pets. Also check to see that the food has been put through AAFCO trials. The Association of American Feed Control Officials is the industry’s leader in food labeling, and their strict requirements ensure your pet will be eating a complete and balanced diet.
Even the most basic kinds of pet food come in special “puppy” or “kitten” formulas for growing dogs and cats, who have different nutritional needs than adults. These foods are specially designed to aid in bone development, and usually contain more calories, which are important for all of that crucial playtime he or she will be having!
Because domesticated cats and dogs don’t have to hunt for their food, they often don’t get the exercise they need in order to stay healthy. Without a proper diet, it’s easy for house pets to become overweight. Overweight dogs and cats are at increased risk of diseases like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Consult with your vet to see if a weight-loss or weight-maintenance formula is right for your pet. Always make sure to pair your pet’s diet with regular exercise to help them maintain a healthy weight.
Special health conditions
Believe it or not, there are dog and cat foods on the market for everything from hairball control, to sensitive skin to allergies and even to picky eating. Always check with your veterinarian before switching to a specialized formula. Just know that there are options out there for specific dietary needs, if necessary.
Keep in mind that these points should not be taken as medical advice. It’s important that you check with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s diet or introducing a new food. If it’s necessary to adjust your pet’s diet, the transition from one diet to another should be slow and gradual.