Does your pet suffer from allergies, recurring ear infections, dull, greasy or smelly “doggy” coat? Does your pet have excessive shedding, scratching or tear stained eyes? Are they overweight? Do they poop a lot? These could be signs that your pet’s diet is not right for them.
Have you looked at the label on your pet’s food lately? You might be surprised what you find there.
Reading the ingredients in your pet’s food can be very enlightening. You want to focus on the first five ingredients of your pet’s food and those that come before the fat source as these represent the majority of the diet. Any ingredients that come after the salt source are pretty minimal.
Here’s what you’re looking for – a diet with two or more high quality identified protein sources in the first three ingredients. You should avoid foods that say “meat meal” or “meat by-product” meal. There is no way of knowing exactly what meat or by products your pet might be eating. You should also avoid “By Products” all together as these typically do not contain high quality portions of the animal. Feet,beaks and feathers can all be considered “by products”. These are parts that are not fit for human consumption but are deemed appropriate for our pets to eat. Look for ingredients like Beef or Chicken or Beef Meal or Chicken Meal. This Meal is a highly digestible protein source that is dried but contains 100% chicken without the by-products.
Look for whole grains in the ingredient list or opt for a grain-free food if your pet has an intolerance to grain which can oftentimes be misunderstood as an allergy. Avoid corn, wheat or soy in your pet’s diet. Many dogs have issues digesting fractionated grains like corn gluten, rice gluten, wheat gluten in the diet or manufacturing leftovers like brewers rice. Cats should not have any grains in their diet; they are true carnivores and their bodies are unable to process carbohydrates.
There should be no added sugar or food coloring in the diet. Sugar and products like Animal Digest are in the foods to increase the palatability of the food. High quality protein sources and whole foods are much more palatable than sugars and flavorings sprayed on the food. Also avoid any artificial colors in the diet as these have no benefit for your pet and often times are the source of the chronic tear staining that many pets have.
Always remember that variety is the spice of life! You and your family don’t eat the same meal everyday and your pet shouldn’t either. Rotating their diet on a regular basis is important to keep their digestive systems healthy and happy. This can also help avoid allergies that sometimes arise later in life due to eating the same diet for many years.
Fresh is always best! Supplement your pets diet with fresh, wholesome ingredients like green or yellow beans, sweet potato, pumpkin, squash, yogurt, and even a little canned salmon or tuna. Consider feeding your dog a raw, fresh diet. You’ll be amazed at the results.
Check out our Nutrition page for more information and our helpful “What’s In Your Pet Food Guide”. Stop in any of our pet stores and our staff will be able to help you find the best options for your pet.