Do you ever wonder if you are feeding your pet the right food? If you do, you’re not alone because this is a common question pet parents ask us. There are so many brand options on the market with long lists of ingredients it is no wonder many pet parents are uncertain about how to choose. This blog will share our advice on selecting the perfect pet food for dogs, cats, and exotic pets. Ensuring your pet receives the proper nutrition is crucial for their overall health and well-being.
Read Pet Food Labels
When choosing the perfect pet food for your furry friend, reading, and understanding the information on the pet food packaging is essential.
- Look for the intended life stage on the package.
The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recognizes three categories of pet food:
- Growth and Reproduction
- Adult Maintenance
- All Life Stages
Adult maintenance means that pet food meets the nutritional needs of adult pets. Generally, “adult” means one year or older. Pet food for Growth and Reproduction is for growing young dogs or cats, usually less than a year old, and also for pregnant and nursing dogs. A pet food labeled for all life stages meets the nutritional requirements for adult, young and pregnant/nursing pets.
- Look for Quality Assurance.
When you look at a pet food label, look for AAFCO certification which indicates that the pet food meets the minimum nutritional requirements for pets. An AAFCO Statement could read something like this:
AAFCO STATEMENT: “Brand A” pet food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO for all life stages.
Another statement may look like this:
AAFCO STATEMENT: Use only as directed by your veterinarian. This product is intended for intermittent feeding only.
Foods classified for “intermittent or supplemental” feeding are typically broths or “toppers” but may include some wet foods. These foods do not provide complete and balanced nutrition and are intended as a complement to be fed with a complete and balanced diet.
Consider Your Pet’s Age, Size, and Activity Level
When choosing the perfect pet food for your furry friend, it’s essential to consider their age, size, and activity level. Different pets have different nutritional needs based on their life stage and energy requirements. As mentioned, puppies and kittens are very active and growing, requiring a diet higher in calories and nutrients. On the other hand, senior pets may benefit from a diet that is lower in calories and contains ingredients that support joint health. Additionally, the size of your pet can also impact their nutritional needs. Larger breeds may require a diet that supports their bone and joint health. Lastly, consider your pet’s activity level. Active and highly energetic pets may require a diet higher in protein and fat to fuel their energy needs, while less active pets may require a lower-calorie diet to prevent weight gain.
Does Your Pet Have Any Special Dietary Needs or Restrictions?
When selecting pet food, it’s essential to consider any special dietary needs or restrictions that your pets may have. Some pets may have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients, such as grains or specific proteins. In these cases, you may need to choose a pet food that does not have ingredients that trigger their allergy or sensitivity.
Exotic Pets Have Their Own Unique Dietary Needs
Exotic pets, such as reptiles, birds, rabbits, hamsters, etc., are often the most misunderstood pets regarding a species-appropriate diet. We have seen well-intentioned pet parents feeding the wrong food to their exotic pets because of misinformation they have received from family or friends. Take rabbits, for example. Many people think rabbits should eat lots of carrots. However, carrots are high in sugar, and feeding a rabbit carrots too much or too often can lead to obesity and digestive problems. Just as with dogs or cats, it is essential to feed exotic pets a diet for their species, age, and size. We are happy to provide you with the proper dietary information you need for your exotic pet through each stage of their life.
Consult with Our Veterinarians
We hope the above information has helped you understand some basics about selecting pet foods. The best assurance you have of choosing the right pet food for your pet is to consult with one of our veterinarians. They have knowledge and expertise in pet nutrition and can recommend a diet tailored to your pet’s needs. They can also recommend the number of calories your pet should consume daily to keep them fit or help them lose weight if they are obese. If your pet has a medical condition, such as obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, etc., our veterinarians can recommend a special diet formulated to help manage their condition.
Your Friendly Team
Cinema Veterinary Centre