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When you walk down the aisle at the pet supply store, you are probably overwhelmed with all of the pet food options available to you. Not only are there a number of different brands of pet food, but each brand has several different meal choices for your cat or dog. There are options for aging pets, pets with joint issues, puppies and kittens. You can choose chicken, lamb, beef or vegetarian flavors, and each brand claims it puts your pet’s health, wellness and development first. While choosing a quality holistic pet food is essential, it’s important to know that no pet food will meet all of your pet’s nutritional needs.
5 Tips for Choosing a Pet Food
- Read the ingredient list. The first ingredient in the list is the most concentrated ingredient, and it should be a lean protein. Chicken, beef or lamb are good protein choices.
- Don’t pick the cheapest option. Cheap food is inexpensive because it’s filled with fillers that offer your pet no nutritional value. You get more for your money when you purchase high quality food for your pet.
- Check to make sure it has an expiration date on the bag. You will want to remember this date and be sure to use all of the food before it expires in order to keep your pet safe and well.
- Verify that the food meets the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which regulates the pet food industry. Use contact information on the pet food bag in order to confirm that it meets these standards. Do keep in mind, however, that the AAFCO standards merely ensure that the food provides the ingredients necessary to sustain life, not the many beneficial nutrients necessary to promote optimal health.
- Choose a pet food that does not have questionable preservatives, such as BHT, BHA and propolyneglycol. Natural preservatives, including Vitamins C and A, are preferred to chemically-produced preservatives.
When it comes to eating right, cats and dogs need proper nutrition in the same way as humans. The difference is that they depend on you to make sure they get it. Proper pet nutrition is essential to your companion’s overall health.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes guidelines for pet food manufacturers. Animals need water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Each piece of a proper diet helps your pet build and repair muscle, bone and teeth; maintain muscle tone; support for a strong immune system; and easily perform everyday activities.
Water makes up a large percentage of an animal’s body. Therefore, even slight dehydration can cause problems for your pet. Energy and muscle growth and function rely on protein intake. Fats, too, provide energy while also benefiting your pet’s coat and skin and proper brain function. Carbohydrates are another source of energy, keeping your pet active, while providing fiber that aids digestion.
The nutrient profiles set by the AAFCO, however, are only part of the picture of good pet nutrition, and they also provide only the requirements necessary to sustain life – not to optimize your pet’s health. Your individual pet’s needs and situation are essential in considering what to feed him. Is your pet overweight? Feed your pet according to the weight you want him to be, rather than by his current weight. In recent years, raw food diets have gained popularity among pet owners. The variety and lack of processed items and fillers are advantages of such meals, but they often lack a balance of some essential nutrients a cat or dog needs. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends a nutritional assessment for companion animals. This process, conducted by a pet health professional, takes into consideration the individual pet’s health, his diet and the environment and management of feeding. These factors help determine the proper steps to ensure a healthy diet for your pet, leading to a full, active and long life for the animal you love.
Just as many people take nutritional supplements and vitamins in order to boost their own diet, it’s important to consider adding similar vitamins and supplements to your new puppy’s diet. Many name brand dog foods promise that your pet is getting the vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants it needs in order to live a long, healthy life, but the fact is that is not always true. Supplements for puppies will ensure that your new four-legged friend’s nutritional needs are met, and also help to boost its developing immune system.
Vitamins for Dogs
Puppy vitamins can help your new puppy better absorb essential nutrients and minerals and also aid in digestion. The right vitamin supplement will promote strong bone development, and also boost your puppy’s immune system. While a pet multivitamin provides plenty of health benefits, there is a chance these same vitamins can make your new dog look more beautiful, too. Vitamins have been shown to improve a dog’s coat, allowing it to appear shiny and feel soft at all times. Different formulas are available, depending on your dog’s breed, lifestyle and stage of life.
It’s important to work with your puppy’s veterinarian in order to choose the best dog food as well as the right puppy vitamins and nutritional supplements. Your vet can help you identify the specific nutritional needs for your dog’s breed and lifestyle. Whether you are raising a show dog, or you simply adopted a new puppy for extra love and companionship, you will want to make sure your puppy gets the best start in life.