Selecting The Proper Pet Food

Selecting The Proper Pet FoodNeed help picking a good quality food for your canine companion or feline friend? Ignore the advertising copy and glossy photos. Instead, look for quality ingredients.

No one is in a better position than you are to decide which food you should feed your pet. That may not be what you wanted to hear. You may have been hoping that someone would reveal to you the name of the world’s healthiest food, so you could just buy that and have it done with.

But pets, just like people, are individuals. What works for this dog won’t work for that one. A Pointer who goes jogging with his marathon-running owner every day needs a lot more calories than the Golden Retriever who watches TV all day. The diet that contains enough fat to keep one cat warm through a winter would be harmful to another cat who suffers from pancreatitis.

Every food on the market contains different ingredients, and each one has the potential to cause symptoms of allergy or intolerance in some pets. Every food contains a different ratio of macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates and you may have to leam by trial and error which ratio works best for your pel. Each product contains varying amounts of vitamins and minerals, and though most fall within the ranges considered acceptable by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), some may be in excess of or deficient to your pet’s needs.

So how do you choose?

The starting place
Well, you have to start somewhere, and you undoubtedly have.*Your pet is eating something already. Our goal is to help you identify the foods with the best-quality ingredients whole meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains, and high- quality sources of dietary fat to get you into the right ‘ballpark” in terms of quality.

Start by assessing your pet’s health. Take a sheet of paper and make a list with two columns: one for health problems, and one for health assets. Any conditions for which she receives veterinary care or medications go in the ‘problems’ column. Other conditions that should be listed here include bad breath; teeth that are prone to tartar buildup; chronically goopy eyes; infection-prone or stinky ears; a smelly, greasy, flaky, or thinning coat; itchy paws; excessive gas; recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or incontinence; repeated infestations of worms or fleas; low or excessive energy; and a sudden onset of antisocial or aggressive behavior.

In the health assets column, list all the health characteristics that your pet has in her favor, such as fresh breath, clean teeth, bright eyes, dean ears, a lack of itching, a glossy coat, problem-free elimination, a normal appetite and energy level, and a good attitude.

If there are a lot more assets on your list than problems, and the problems are very minor, you may have already found a diet that works well for your pet. But if your list reveals a lot more problems than assets, your pet is a good candidate for a change of diet in addition to an examination and some guidance from a trusted veterinarian!

Now take a look at the food you are currently feeding your pet. Note the food’s ingredients, as well as its protein and fat levels, and its caloric content. Write all of this down, so you can make logical adjustments if need be.

Human factors
Finally, there are the human factors that may influence your pet-food purchasing decision, One of these factors may be cost. Premium foods are more expensive due to higher quality ingredients. Another factor may be local availability, although we have many great local pet supply stores in our area.

Understand that there is a direct connection between the quality of an animal’s food and his health, and do the best you can do.
There are many high quality, ultra premium commercial diets available. While not a comprehensive listing, these are among the brands we consider to be higher quality than the average grocery or pet store brands. Most are

Physical Changes

The physical changes your pets experience are generally easier to spot than the sensory changes. As the body ages, its ability to respond to infection is reduced, and the healing process takes longer. Therefore, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian if you notice a significant change in behavior or the physical condition of your pet. Many of the signs indicating that animals are approaching senior citizenship are the same for both cats and dogs, but they can indicate a variety of different problems. A very common and frustrating problem for aging pets is inappropriate elimination. The kidneys are one of the most common organ systems to wear out on a cat or dog, and as age affects the function of the kidneys, your once well-behaved pet may have trouble controlling his bathroom habit.

Nutrition

Obesity in pets is often the result of reduced exercise and overfeeding and is a risk factor for problems such as heart disease, arthritis and skin conditions. Because older pets often have different nutritional requirements, talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s diet.

Exercise

Exercise is yet another aspect of preventive geriatric care for your pets. You should definitely keep them mobile as they get older—if they are cooped up or kept lying down, their bodies will deteriorate much more quickly. You may want to ease up a bit on the exercise with an arthritic or debilitated cat or dog. Otherwise, you should keep them as active—mentally and physically—as possible in order to keep them sharp.

Pain Management

Pets experience pain just like humans do, and AAHA recommends veterinarians take steps to identify, prevent, and minimize pain in all senior dogs and cats. The different types of pain include acute pain, which comes on suddenly as a result of an injury, surgery, or an infection, and chronic pain, which is long lasting and usually develops slowly (such as arthritis). You can play a key role in monitoring your pet to determine whether he suffers from pain.

See also:
What to Watch for in Your Senior Pet More Details

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