Your furry friend’s happiness and healthiness starts from their diet. Pet nutrition is often overlooked or compared to human nutrition, but one must understand that the needs and nutrients of a pet vary and are crucial for their health. Pet food is regulated through various organizations like the AAFCO, USDA, and FDA. The FDA oversees food safety, therapeutic diets, recalls, food labelling and most importantly has the power to enforce regulations unlike other organizations. A simple summary of what to look for on a food bag is the ‘Nutritional Adequacy Statement’. If it states the diet is ”complete and balanced”, then follow the instructions on the bag according to your pet’s life stage, activity level, and weight. The doctor does not recommend grain-free diets, as studies have shown a correlation between grain-free diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy in pets. Homemade diets or raw-fed diets are not recommended because they cannot adequately account for your pets specific and essential nutritional needs. There is a huge selection of brands to choose from but some brands the doctor recommends are Purina, Hills Science, Iams, and Pedigree. Some pets with certain medical conditions must be strict with their food consumption; in this case the doctor will recommend a safe and restricted diet according to your pet’s needs.
It is important to keep track of what your pet eats as it can give the doctor an insight of whether nutritional needs are being met. If you decide on changing your pet’s diet, slowly introduce them to their new diet within a week, because a rapid and sudden change in diet could lead to gastrointestinal issues. One thing to keep into account is the type and amount of treats your pet receives. Treats should be maintained at 10% of your pet’s diet. It is very easy for a pet to accumulate an excessive amount of treats throughout the day which can quickly lead to obesity and other issues. Avoid home-cooked food as treats and instead opt for healthy fruits/vegetables, like blueberries and carrots, as long as it is given in moderation! You can either avoid or be very cautious with bones, as there have been an increased amount of obstruction-related vet visits.