6 Things Your Vet Wants You to understand About pet food

Most dogs will eat anything, from trash on the sidewalk to scraps from your table. They’re not picky when it involves nutrition. So, how does one know if the food you’re buying for them is healthy?

The FDA regulates all commercial pet food, so most products on store shelves do have safe and nutritious ingredients. But it helps to understand some basic facts before you select a brand and dish it out.

1. search for the nutritional guarantee.

The food that creates up a dog’s main meals should have a press release on the label from the Association of yank Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that the merchandise “provides complete and balanced nutrition,” or that the merchandise “is formulated to satisfy the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO pet food Nutrient Profiles.”

The main ingredient you select for your pooch — chicken, lamb, beef, or something else — doesn’t make much of a difference, says Sherry Sanderson, DVM, a professor at the University of Georgia College of medicine. The important thing is that he can eat it with no problems.

2. Don’t rule out byproducts or grains.

Chicken and meat byproducts get a nasty rap because companies that claim “real chicken” or “real meat” ingredients are better. The terms “byproduct” and “byproduct meal” ask ground-up parts of the animal carcass, including bones and organs. But they will be very nutritious, Sanderson says — even more nutritious than the muscle meat that we, like humans, enjoy.

Grains and cornmeal also are common ingredients in commercial dog foods — and that’s OK, says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, a professor at Cornell University College of medicine. “Going gluten-free could also be a classy diet for people, but we rarely see dogs with gluten sensitivities.”

If you are doing think your pal could be allergic to something in her food, don’t make a diagnosis yourself. Ask your veterinarian the way to find out exactly which ingredient to avoid.

3. Premium isn’t always better.

Stores tend to group dog foods into the categories of “popular” and pricier “premium” or “gourmet” diets, but there aren’t any nutritional requirements for these labels.

“I never guilt pet owners into feeling that they need to feed their dog or cat a premium diet,” Sanderson says. “I feed my very own animals a mixture of popular and premium diets.”

If cost is vital for you, she recommends you purchase a less-expensive popular food and save your money for other things your dog needs, like heartworm medicine.

4. Dogs can go vegetarian.

Unlike cats, which require nutrients found only in animal protein, canines are often healthy on a meatless diet. Sometimes owners choose this feature if they’re vegetarians themselves, or if the dog has allergies to chicken or other animal proteins. 

But it is often tricky to seek out the proper balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and nutrients for vegetarian pooches. Sanderson says it’s an honest idea to stay with a billboard meatless pet food, instead of trying to feed your pal a homemade diet.

5. wet food vs. dry food: It’s a toss-up.

Dry food is a smaller amount messy and easier to store, and chomping on pieces of kibble is often good for dogs’ teeth. But wet food could also be the simplest choice for dogs who have trouble chewing, or who don’t drink enough water on their own.

6. take care to not serve an excessive amount of.

It may seem convenient to go away food out all day for your pup, but it could mean he’ll overeat.

“It all depends if you’ve got a gluttonous Labrador or a picky Pekingese,” Wakshlag says. “But we generally don’t recommend it, because most animals find pet foods lately to be pretty tasty.”

Instead, check the label on your dog’s food for suggested serving sizes that supported his weight. Your vet also can tell you if you ought to feed him more or less, supported by how active he’s or other nutritional needs. Wakshlag says it’s best to separate your dog’s total daily calories into two servings — morning and evening.

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