How to choose the best pet food

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If you’ve ever done an Internet search for “best dog food” or “best cat food,” you know how many choices there are. Dry, canned, homemade, raw, freeze-dried. And that’s not even considering how many different brands there are.

When it comes to giving your pet the best possible diet, your best resource is your Sun Dog Cat Moon Veterinary Clinic veterinarian! We offer nutritional counseling services to get your pet on a path to a longer, healthier life. Here’s what one of our veterinarians, Dr. Kim Wilson, suggests when it comes to feeding your dog or cat the best possible diet.

Choosing a life stage
The first step in choosing a food for your dog or cat is to consider your pet’s life stage: puppy/kitten (up to 1 year old), adult (between 1 and 7 years old), senior (7 years or older), or nursing/pregnant.

Foods that claim to be “for all life stages” might not give your pet the nutrition they need, especially if you have a very young pet, or a pregnant female.

Choosing a food type
Dr. Wilson recommends a canned food diet for cats. “Cats, over their lifetime, will thrive on wet food,” she says. “Giving some dry food is okay, but wet food is better for their kidneys and is closer to what they would be eating if they were outside – small rodents and moles. Choose varieties that are highest in protein and lowest in carbohydrates.”

For dogs older than one year, Dr. Wilson recommends a homemade diet. “Many people feed their dogs dry food, or kibble, out of convenience,” she says. “However, dry food is highly processed and very dry. When it gets into your dog’s stomach, the body has to hydrate the food with its own body fluids, and it expands in the stomach.”

On top of that, choosing a good quality dry food can be tricky, she says. “Reading the ingredients on the bag is not always helpful because it has been shown that some food manufacturers don’t always list everything that is in the food or they may actually leave some listed ingredients out.” [Premium dog foods such as Eukanuba, Hill’s Science Diet, and Royal Canin do put the same listed ingredients in the bag every time.]

However, a homemade diet is not as simple as giving Fido a portion of your dinner. Commercial foods undergo testing and research to guarantee proper nutrition. When you cook your dog’s food, you don’t have that advantage, making it difficult to ensure your dog is getting all the nutrients he or she needs, such as calcium, copper, iodine, fat-soluble vitamins, and B vitamins.

However, at Sun Dog Cat Moon Veterinary Clinic, we offer nutritional counseling and The Original CrockPET Diet®, developed by our clinic’s founder, Dr. Ruth Roberts. With nutritional counseling, we can create a customized meal plan based on your dog’s or cat’s health and nutritional needs, including not only what to feed your dog or cat, but how much and when. A tailored diet can alleviate allergies, obesity, cancers, liver disease, arthritis, skin conditions, and much more. With The Original CrockPET Diet®, you know your pet is eating the very best.

If you must feed dry kibble, Dr. Wilson says, look for meats, organ meats, and vegetables in the first few ingredients and the grains lower in the list.  “Do not get foods with artificial coloring, and only pets with a proven grain sensitivity should avoid grains,” Dr. Wilson says. “Grains like wheat, rice, or quinoa in the food, are generally okay, although I usually recommend avoiding corn.”

Wondering about raw diets? These diets have gained traction in recent years, with the argument that wild dogs and cats do not have cooked or processed food. However, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) have all released statements discouraging the feeding of raw or undercooked animal-source protein to dogs and cats. The Delta Society’s Pet Partners Program has a policy preventing animals on raw meat-based diets from participating in the Therapy Animal Program. There are many reasons for this – there are potentially harmful pathogens in raw meat, raw meat poses the risk of salmonella, raw bones have been associated with dental problems in dogs, and raw diets are often nutritionally imbalanced.

“I never recommend raw diet when the meat comes from the grocery store,” Dr. Wilson says. “It is well-documented that the meat and chicken that comes from the grocery store is loaded with all kinds of bacteria that can make your dog sick.

“If you really want to feed raw, I recommend one of the commercially-produced raw diets that have been treated with high pressure (HPP). This process kills most of the bacteria. However, any dog who is very young, sick, undergoing chemotherapy, or old and is immune-compromised should not be fed any raw diet.”

Any time you have a question about your pet’s diet, don’t rely on questionable online sources. Our veterinarians are nutritional experts who give you the facts! Call us at 843-437-0063!

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