Tips to help you ensure your dog or cat gets quality nutrition

How to Choose Pet FoodQuality nutrition is extremely important for your pet, but considering that there are dozens of different brands of pet food on the market and each brand has several different offerings, it can be hard to know which food is best. These tips will help you choose a food that can give your dog or cat the nutrients they need to maintain a healthy immune system and digestive system, a shiny coat, and an energetic, playful attitude.

Age-Appropriateness

The very first thing you need to do when choosing dog or cat food is to make sure you are only considering products that are age-appropriate for your pet. Babies, adults, and seniors have specific and distinct nutritional needs. So do pregnant or nursing animals as well as pets with certain medical conditions.

Understanding Titles

Many people assume that the titles given to various food products are just marketing. However, these titles are actually very descriptive thanks to the efforts of The Association of American Feed Control Officials. Any pet food said to contain a single ingredient contains 95 percent of that ingredient. A food called a “dinner”, “platter,” “entrée,” etc. doesn’t have to contain more than 25 percent of the named ingredient. A pet food product advertising a “flavor” only has to have a “detectable amount” of that ingredient. So a “beef” dog food would be 95 percent beef but “beef dinner” would probably only contain 25 percent beef.

Ingredients

As with people food, the more natural ingredients on the label of a pet food the better. The ingredients will be listed by weight, and ideally you should find a food where a meat product is listed first. Grains and glutens will probably come next. This is okay because most dogs and cats can metabolize these carbs easily and they actually need them for energy. Don’t be concerned if meat by-products appear on the label—in a quality pet food, this signifies nutritious organ meats not horns or hooves.

Pet Preference

Your pet’s preference is also very important. You can try out different foods to see which your pet finds most appetizing. Just remember that you need to transition slowly from one food brand to another in order to avoid upsetting your pet’s stomach.

Ask Your Vet

If you are concerned that your pet isn’t maintaining a healthy weight or has issues eating or digesting their food, consult your veterinarian immediately. Your vet can examine your pet to determine if they have an allergy or a health problem that may or may not be related to the food. Your vet can also recommend a specific food for your pet and prescribe supplements as necessary.

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