While choosing the ideal food for your pet may seem overwhelming, start with these tips. Your veterinarian is an excellent resource for determining which way to go.
1. Consider how your pet looks and feels. When you look at your pet, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your pet seem too fat or too thin? Try to be honest. If your pet seems overweight, your veterinarian can recommend a healthy weight loss diet.
- Is the coat shiny or dull looking? Food can make a big difference!
- Does your pet shed more than usual? Shedding has to do with breed, of course… but if you notice extra shedding, a food change may be able to help.
- What’s your pet’s skin condition? Do you see dandruff or flakiness?
- What about your pet’s stools? For instance, loose stools may be a sign that your pet’s food needs adjusting.
It’s great to have your answers to these questions when consulting with a pet-food professional, which is the next step.
2. Talk with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows your pet’s medical history and is trained to help assess your pet’s overall wellbeing. Food is a major factor in your pet’s wellness! After examining your pet, considering his or her breed, age and overall condition, and also talking with you — your veterinarian can make food recommendations or direct you to reliable sources for further information.
3. Determine or confirm that the food has quality ingredients. The pet food label should provide an indication as to the intended purpose of the food. A statement such as “complete and balanced nutrition for the adult dog” means that the diet is adequate to meet the needs of the average adult dog. If the label does not contain information to this effect, the product may not fully satisfy the animal’s dietary needs. Since requirements vary by life-stage and species, a food that’s appropriate for an adult dog is not appropriate for a puppy or a pregnant female, nor is it adequate for a cat.
Feeding trials are a great way to determine if a particular diet is appropriate for a specific stage of your pet’s life. Foods tested in trials will usually have this information on the product label. Pet foods that have a “seal of approval” or a “certification” from a specific organization may indicate a feeding trial; but you’ll want to do a little research to find out what that seal really means.
In addition, the definition of “quality” can be hard to pin down. Are wheat and corn OK to have in pet food? Some experts say no way. This is where a conversation with your veterinarian can be extremely valuable.
Final note: Gradually introduce any new food into your pet’s diet and watch for signs of discomfort. If your pet’s stool is suddenly loose or he/she seems uncomfortable, call your veterinarian for guidance.
Caution: These news items, written by LifeLearn Inc., are licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of LifeLearn Inc. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by our clinic veterinarian.