If you have ever walked the food isle of your local pet store you have noticed that there are literally hundreds of options, all promoting themselves to be the best or healthiest diet for your pet.
But if you peel away the fancy labels and expensive marketing campaigns you will find many of the pet foods are healthy for your pet, and some are not as beneficial as they make themselves out to be.
When selecting what food is best keep these things in mind:
* Expensive food doesn’t always equal high quality — Almost all pet food that reaches the store shelf is nutritionally complete for your pet. Keep in mind that all manufactured pet food diets are regulated by the FDA and must meet certain guidelines prior to being sold at your local pet store or grocery store. Before purchasing a pet food solely based on the premise that if it is expensive it must be good, do your research, read ingredient and manufacturer labels, etc.
*Grain free diets are not required for most pets — Though many pets do have food allergies, grain allergies are low on that list of common culprits. In a recent NY times article Lisa Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist and researcher at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University stated, “Contrary to advertising and popular belief, there is no research to demonstrate that grain-free diets offer any health benefits over diets that contain grains…Grains have not been linked to any health problems except in the very rare situation when a pet has an allergy to a specific grain”. The article, as well as a number of other articles from veterinary universities, note that with grain free diets surging in popularity, cardiologists across the nation are noting an increase of cases of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs suspected to be the result of nutritional deficiency. If your pet is currently on a grain free diet there is no need to panic as it is a low occurrence that has been noted, but it is something to be aware of. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
* Raw diets can pose real risks to both the pet and pet owner — Everyone out there has had a family member, friend or someone they have met that has promoted the idea of a raw food diet for pets. So what exactly is a raw diet? It is a diet that is either manufactured by a company, or made by the owner, consisting of raw meat, ground bones and other animal parts, fruits, and vegetables. Those promoting raw diets state that pets should be fed raw diets because domesticated dogs and cats are related to wild animals and as such should be fed a similar diet for optimal health. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. There are however, many documented studies that have been performed reporting potential health and safety concerns for your pet when on these types of diets. Because of this the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association have officially recommended to not feed this type of diet. If you do elect to feed a raw diet, please make sure that you are safely handling and preparing all food, cleaning pet dishes after each meal, and frequently cleaning up any pet feces as raw diets have been linked to higher rates of Salmonella and Listeria infections.
So with all the information out there how do you make the best choice for your best friend?
It’s simple really, go to the person that you trust the rest of your pet’s health with….your local veterinarian. Veterinarians have literally spent years studying, learning and working with animals to help improve and prolong the life of your pet and are there to help you! Your veterinarian will work with you to find the best diet specifically for your pet and his/her needs.