As the saying goes, “We are what we eat”. Isn’t this the case with our pets as well? I was recently invited to contribute to an issue of the Phoenix Magazine focusing on veterinarians and pet health care. Specifically, I was interviewed about nutrition today. There are many myths, folklore and false information about pet nutrition. At the same time, pet food sales in the U.S. reached 19.85 billion dollars in 2011. Obviously, this is a hugely important area of concern for pet owners. Below are some common questions and answers that we hear in practice nearly every day.
Q. How much should I feed my pet?
A. Probably less than you are feeding now. The fifth annual veterinary survey found 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats to be classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals 88.4 million pets that are too heavy according to veterinarians. 1 These findings match our day-to-day experience. When I am asked to assess “how much” to feed a pet, many factors must be considered: what kind of food are you feeding, are you giving treats, how much exercise is the pet getting, are there underlying medical conditions that need to be addressed, etc. But as a general rule, when comparing the amount of food recommended on the bag (based on the weight of the pet), and the actual body condition of the pet, most labels indicate that you are feeding too much food.
Q. I want to feed a grain-free food. What do you think?
A. Grain, in and of itself, is not bad. There are some great diets with grain and some great diets that are “grain-free”. I consider grain-free food to be a fad more than a sound nutritional approach. Certainly, some pets are sensitive or allergic to certain kinds of grain.
Q. What constitutes a “premium dog or cat food”?
A. The quality of the ingredients included in the food is how I define a premium dog or cat food. The best ingredients are meat-based (not by-products) and the label will say that the food was tested in feeding trials (not based on a formula only). There should be no artificial color or preservatives added.
Q. Do pets have food allergies? If so, how can I tell if my pet is allergic to a food or an ingredient?
A. Pets do have allergies. These can manifest as vomiting or diarrhea, but most often food allergies show up in pets as part of the overall allergic pet. In dogs, this is most likely itchy skin and ears. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is another very serious manifestation of allergies to food ingredients.
There is additional information about specific, therapeutic diets we use in preventing or treating specific diseases on our website.
I would like to invite our clients to submit questions about pet nutrition that I can comment on and make this article as pertinent to your needs as possible.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]