When it comes to finding the right type of food for your pet, the endless options available can make it difficult. Which type do you choose, and does it really matter?
The short answer is yes. Just as with humans, optimal nutrition is essential to your pet’s health and well-being – which means finding quality, specialised food is vitally important. Equally as important is the type of pet you have, their size, age, breed and preferences, all of which are factors that need to be considered when selecting the right kind of food for your pet. That’s why it’s necessary, before settling on a particular brand of food, to ask a number of key questions.
How do I know if a certain food is right for my pet?
The good news is that if a specific type of food is working for your pet, you’ll know it. They’ll be energetic and alert, they’ll look healthy, they’ll have good digestion, and you’ll have a happy, thriving pet all round. However, if after trying a new brand of food your pet seems down, unhealthy, sluggish, or not their usual self, it may be worth consulting your vet, as poor diet could be the cause.
What type of ingredients should I be looking for?
If you already look at the labels on your own food, this part should be easy. Before purchasing any food for your pet, take a look at the ingredients list for nutrients such as:
- Carbohydrates: Fibrous ingredients like barley, soy or oats will help with your pet’s digestion and energy levels.
- Proteins: Chicken, beef or lamb will help your pet stay satiated between meals, and promote lean muscle growth.
- Vitamins and minerals: A diet rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for a pet’s healthy digestive and immune system.
If you have a dog or a cat, ensure that the first ingredient on the list is a protein, as this is important in ensuring a high quality food – particularly for cats, who are obligate carnivores. Should your pet be a herbivore, such as a rabbit, look for a high fibre ingredient first on the list, like alfalfa or another type of hay, as healthy fibre is of the utmost importance in their diet.
Are veterinarian-endorsed brands the best?
While you may think that all foods endorsed by veterinarians are premium quality brands, it’s important to take a look at their ingredients and formulations before making a final decision. If a brand has a protein source and a meat meal listed as first in the ingredients, before any grains, it’s usually a good choice. Too many grains in a pet’s diet can help contribute to obesity, while poultry by-products such as feet, beaks and intestines are a low quality source of protein. High quality products contain named proteins and meals in higher quantities than grains, so a little research can go a long way in ensuring your pet’s continued health.
Do I need to give my pet a life stage formulated diet?
While many ‘life stage’ diets are no more than a clever marketing tool, it’s true that kittens and puppies do need more food relative to their size than older animals, due to being in a growing phase. In this stage, feeding smaller animals three times a day is best, with two meals a day being sufficient once they are three to four months old. While some life stage brands can be helpful for kittens and puppies, it’s more important to ensure they receive a high quality, varied diet rich in protein.
Similarly, while older animals need less food as they age, their food also needs to be of high quality in order to boost their immune system and keep them as strong and healthy as possible.
Can I give my pet leftovers and treats to eat?
As long as the ‘people food’ and treats you give your pet aren’t actively harmful to them (such as chocolate for dogs), there should be no issues with giving your pet table scraps or treats for good behaviour. To maintain a quality diet however, it’s important to ensure that any food you give them is healthy, such as protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates like potato and rice – all chopped into bite-size pieces for safety.
Also remember that in order to keep your pet at a healthy weight, you will need to adjust their intake of pet food accordingly so as to prevent any weight gain due to overfeeding.
Will my pet become bored of eating the same food?
Unlike us humans who usually demand a little more variety in our diets, as long as your pet is being fed a diet of high quality, optimal nutrition, there’s no reason why they can’t eat the same type of food on a long-term basis. Just make sure to keep an eye on your pet’s behaviour to ensure they have a genuine preference for the type of food you give them. Whether you’re a human or an animal, life’s too short to eat boring food!
Having trouble deciding on the right kind of food for your pet? Take a look at our selection of quality, specialised food for dogs, cats, and other small animals, and make your pet’s mealtimes the best of times!