Just as parents must teach their children healthy eating habits, furry family members also look to their pet parents to provide them with their nutritional needs. When feeding humans, we know to go to the supermarket and pick up fruits, veggies, and whole foods that are good for our bodies. However, finding a “good” pet food can be a difficult task!
Start by finding the Guaranteed Analysis of your pet’s food. This is similar to the Nutrition Facts on human food. Compare different products by looking for profiles on a “dry matter” basis, with all the water removed. A more complete Guaranteed Analysis should be available online and reputable companies will be transparent about this information.
Additionally, a statement on the bag from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) indicates that the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for your pet’s needs. If this statement mentions that the food has undergone feeding trials, the food has been more rigorously tested than one that has been formulated for nutrition.
When considering ingredients, grain-free foods are a trendy choice. However, grains provide valuable carbohydrates that your pet needs for energy. Grain-free foods are a valid option for dogs who have been diagnosed with a grain allergy, but allergies to other ingredients (most commonly meats such as chicken) are much more common. In this case, your veterinarian will recommend a food with an alternative source of protein such as lamb or even kangaroo!
Otherwise, you’ll find that chicken and chicken meal are the most common sources of protein. As long as a quality supplier is sourced (look for the AAFCO seal of approval), chicken meal provides more nutrients than chicken at a lower cost. A food with high-quality chicken or chicken meal will still cost more than a generic brand, but your little one will require less food to meet their energy demands.
Ultimately, the best resource when it comes to interpreting pet food packaging is your veterinarian. At your furry family member’s annual exam, your vet will consider their age, breed, lifestyle and overall health, and make recommendations as they mature and grow. A good diet helps your pet live their best life, which is ultimately what being a pet parent is all about!
Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at danielle@NeighbourhoodPetClinic.com. Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.