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Picking the right food for your dog
Finding the right food for your furry friend is important, but knowing what that food is can be difficult. When you walk into the pet store you are met with several obstacles. There is an overwhelming amount of pet food options, drastic variations in price, and many more. Many companies have already tried to sell you on why their pet food is the best through fancy commercials and advertising. By following our veterinarian recommended guide for choosing pet foods, hopefully you will be able to find a food that makes both you and your pet very happy!
Step 1: The manufacturer: Who is making my pet’s food?
Pet food is a billion dollar industry and everyone wants to have their own brand and not all brands are held to the same standards. As veterinarians, we recommend looking for brand names of companies that have Veterinary Nutritionists creating their diets such as Hill’s, Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina, and Iams.These companies have spent time and money creating healthy and safe foods for your pets. The quality of the ingredients and the safety of production are monitored closely. These diets are also formulated to meet your pet’s dietary requirements, avoiding nutritional deficiencies as well as excesses. Deficiencies in most commercial diets are rare however excesses of nutrients are very common and can be detrimental to your pet’s health long term.
Step 2: Was this diet in a food trial?
It is important to know if that food was in a “food trial” vs “formulated”. You can find this information on the pet food bag in the AAFCO statement*. Having a food trial is the “gold standard” for determining nutritional adequacy. Dogs in the food trial are fed only that diet and monitored following AAFCO protocols and it is the best way to document how a pet will perform when fed a specific diet. Formulated diets are created by following nutrient requirements for specific animals but are not studied in feeding trials prior to being sold. Formulating a diet is a less expensive method and there is no guarantee of pet acceptance or nutrient bioavailability/digestibility when using this method. Diets can be formulated and still be a good diet for your pet, you just want to make sure the manufacturer has Veterinary Nutritionists creating the diets.
Step 3: Are you feeding for the appropriate lifestage of your pet?
Feeding the appropriate food for your pet’s life stage is very important because your pet’s nutritional requirements change with age:
*AFFCO: Association of American Feed Control Officials
How to read a food label properly
The association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, sets the standards for pet food labeling in the United States.
For the health of your dog, do not feed them table scraps as it can cause stomach upset, alter balance of nutrition, and lead to unwanted begging behaviors. Also, certain foods cause health problems and be harmful to dogs such as chocolate, caffeine, onions, raisins/grapes, and fatty foods. Diets that contain only meat should be avoided because they do not provide the appropriate balance of nutrients your pet needs. Many techniques are used to market pet foods. Please talk to our veterinarians about specific recommendations for your dog’s nutrition based on breed, size, life-stage and lifestyle. Your veterinarian is the BEST SOURCE for a diet recommendation!