PET FOOD BASICS – Danielle LeFort, RVT
What food should I feed ?
Everyone has something to say about pet food. For every food that someone loves, someone else hates it. For every animal who does well on a food, another animal has diarrhea or itchy skin. Is there such a thing as a perfect pet food for our pets? The answer is YES, but it depends on your pet, not the food.
Why do some animals do well on Ol’ Roy while others need the most expensive, grain free antioxidant laden gourmet that needs to be imported from Belgium ?
My rule of thumb (and what I tell my veterinary assistant students) is that a food is good for a healthy animal if the following conditions are met:
* The animal is not too fat
* The animal is not too thin
* The animal is not vomiting or having diarrhea
* The animal is not losing excessive fur or has excessively itchy skin
It’s that simple. Feed your pet what THEY do well on, not what you think they should be on.
Now if your animal has a health condition: allergies, orthopedic, organ function decline, cancer, etc you need to feed a food tailored to that health condition. If your pet has more than 1 health issue, you feed to address the most serious health issue, which would be the one that most seriously affects the quality or length of their life.
Grocery Store, Pet Specialty Store or Veterinary Diets ?
Again, are they doing well ? I feed my adult dog grocery store brand, my adult cat pet specialty store brand and my geriatric cat a veterinary diet. They all have different needs that are satisfied by different foods. I would love to be able to purchase all my food in one place, but why pay more for veterinary diets that my pets don’t need or pay less for food that isn’t right for my geriatric kitty ?
Pay attention to the “AAFCO statement”. Look for a food that has been “AAFCO feeding trial FED” rather than “AAFCO formulated” – feeding trial fed food means it was fed to animals for a determined amount of time to ensure it met the nutritional levels before it was released into the market – formulated food may never have been fed to animal before hitting the market
If it says “complete and balanced” then it is nutritionally adequate – Complete means there are all the nutrients an animal needs in there and balanced means there are enough for a 24 hour feeding period. Some foods say “complete” but not “balanced”, which means all the nutrients are there but not in sufficient quantities for a 24 hour period.