What’s important in pet food
- Feed a diet as close to the natural diet of that animal as you can – a meat and vegetable diet. Simple food is best.
- Rotate ingredients and brands frequently.
- Choose foods made from human edible ingredients – this minimizes poor quality additions + byproducts.
- Good food is not cheap. Good food = healthy dogs and cats.
- Keep it safe once you get it home.
- Exotic meats and ingredients are not needed. Novel proteins are only needed by the truly allergic.
- Dry food does not clean teeth!
Categories of pet food:
Frozen and Canned foods are the closest thing to the natural diet of dog’s and cat’s bodies.
- Canned food is COOKED, highly processed, and has a lot of water due to the needs of the canning process.
- Frozen is minimally processed usually RAW, and usually has higher food value – less water
- The water content makes a big difference in cost to feed
- Both are good choices for feeding alone, or for feeding with dry food to improve the carbohydrate level
- The goal in using these foods is to reduce carbohydrate level — choose foods with no starch or very little starch
- Nutrient percentages to look for: Protein 9%/Fat 6%. Frozen: Protein 12%/Fat 6% – look for @ twice as much protein as fat
Dry foods are highly processed, starch-based products, with a very wide range of composition and quality
“Regular” foods usually have about 50% carbohydrate, between 350-400 calories per cup.
Best choices are single protein source foods, with simple starch ingredient lists.
When you rotate, choose foods that have different proteins AND different starches. To do this, you probably will have to use different brands. To rotate brands (proteins/starches) is good, except one side effect is that different brands buy from different sources so possible toxic problems don’t add up so fast.
Meat/protein choices: meat and meat meals – simple is best
NO soy, corn, gluten meal of any kind, better to skip vegetable proteins or at least rotate
Starch choices: NO corn, wheat, NOT MUCH oat, barley, rye all can become problems for digestion and allergy development
Okay Starches: Rice, millet, and various seeds, millet, potato, and often from MANY sources
“Grain Free” dry foods are NOT starch free. They are @ 40% carbohydrate – 400-440 calories per cup. Foods are often higher in calories. This is fine except serving size must be decreased.
Foods that use Peas and Beans as starch:
- Proteins: Meat and meat meal. Protein is often boosted with protein from legumes or potatoes
- Starches: Beans and peas of all kinds – these are not complete proteins, not easily digestible
- If these foods agree with your pet, rotate with other non-bean choices
- Marketing: low glycemic index. Useful info for humans, not good choice long term for dogs
Foods that use Tapioca as starch:
- Proteins: Meat and meat meal, mixed or single. Protein boosting sometimes done with potato.
- Starches: tapioca alone or with other starchy ingredients (jicama).
- Tapioca has no protein, so it will not cause immune-mediated reactions
Foods that use Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, & Yams as starch:
- Proteins: Meat and meat meal, mixed or single
- Starches: Starchy Vegetables
“Dehydrated” and “Freeze-dried” foods are expensive but they are useful for travel or transition. Some have similar composition to canned or dry foods, some are dry version of raw diets. They are highly processed and not the same as a fresh or raw food diet.
“Specialty category” foods include special needs and life style foods: these are marketing tools.
Use a food made for all life stages and keep your dog lean.
Many “prescription” foods are made with poor quality ingredients – if you know what dietary needs are, usually they can be met with existing commercial foods that have better quality ingredients.
Many “specific condition” foods (joint formula, better coat, hairball) include low quality ingredients with some supplementation to address the condition. Usually you can do this much better by using a supplement added to a good quality food. Often the supplement quantity is not at a therapeutic level, wasted money.
Choose the best food you can afford!
There’s no reason to think that dogs and cats should be cheap to feed, no more than humans. Pay for good food now, or pay your veterinarian to help you with unnecessary, chronic disease later.
TREATS should promote health and improve the diet –Meat treats are best
- Use the same standards as you use for dry food.
- REMEMBER that treats are not a complete diet! IF your pet gets substantial calories from treats he/she will be missing some essential nutrients.
- Dental treats may be dangerous! Do not buy treats with gluten!
KEEP FOOD SAFE
- Dry food is susceptible to food spoilage that can make your dog very sick or even kill him.
- Don’t buy more than you can use in a couple of weeks, or store it in the freezer
- Storage containers harbor molds and bacteria. Scrub yours every time you buy a new bag – or don’t use one
- Keep food in the bag inside the tightly sealed container,
- Keep it in a cool, dry place – NOT the garage in the summer!
- If your dog says there is something wrong with the food – Listen!!
- Sometimes food problems are invisible, but dogs can tell.
- Throw it away or return it if you have bought it recently.
USE FOOD WISELY
- KNOW how many calories are in your food: — foods vary, and feeding amounts must be adjusted
- The feeding chart on the bag may have little relationship to your pet!
- If your pet is overweight, he needs to take in fewer calories or different calories no matter what the bag says
- Many dogs on starch based foods put on weight on minuscule amounts of food
- This may be an indicator that this dog might do better on a meat-based food (and also is an indicator that you might need to check with your vet about thyroid function).
For a long and healthy life, cats need to eat almost exclusively wet food. This is the opposite of what most of us were taught! And cats don’t necessarily agree!
Contact Us for further information: The Puddle ~ Pet AquaFitness & Nutrition (630) 883-0700.