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Choosing a Pet Food

There are many things you need to consider when you are deciding on what to feed your dog or cat. Choosing a pet food is not something that should be taken lightly. The majority of people will use a commercially made food, so that is what I will discuss in this article. Homemade foods can be great, but I am unable to recommend how to prepare that at this time, it would be best to talk with your vet about that.

Wet vs. Dry

There has always been a debate on wet food verse dry. Wet foods are generally easily accepted by pets due to their stronger smell. However, they can cause dental problems if the teeth are not taken care of by brushing or having things to chew on. There, generally, are more calories in wet foods, but fewer carbohydrates. There is more protein, fats, and moisture. Wet foods are often recommended for cats with weight issues since carbohydrates can contribute to that and the fact that many cats don’t drink very much water.

A cat that drinks a lot of water and is not overweight, would likely be better off with dry food to prevent dental problems. However, a cat that rarely drinks water and is not very active may be better off with wet food. A combination may even be ideal in cases such as a very thin dog, who needs all the protein, carbohydrates, fats, and nutrition both can offer. The choice will also depend on if you have an animal that will chew bones or allow brushing. A dry food may allow for fewer dentals needing to be done at the vet. Dry foods are also cheaper and easier to store in some sense, as well as can be left out if your pet free feeds. An open can of wet food must be refrigerated, however, an unopened can lasts even longer than dry kibble. The choice will fully depend on your pet’s individuality, and your vet may be able to help you decide which is best.

Ingredients

One of the most important considerations for your pet’s food is what the food is made from. For both cats and dogs, meat should be the main ingredient. It should ideally be a whole meat and not a meat by-product or meat and bone meal, which is questionable as to what kind of meat is included. Organ meats included in higher-end foods offer better nutrition for your pet. An ideal food should not contain corn or other fillers. However, other than meat and possibly some vegetables there will be grains, unless you specifically get a grain-free diet. Some dogs tend to develop grain allergies, so some people prefer to just start out with a grain-free diet. Some studies have shown heart problems when dogs are on grain-free diets, but there really isn’t enough information to say it’s for sure. Cats often will be completely fine without grains.

Some other things that should not be in your pet food are added colors and the preservatives BHA and BHT. Pets are no more likely to eat colored food than the typical brown kibble, and these dyes used can actually cause allergies and other issues. Foods should be preserved with a more natural preservative like mixed tocopherols derived from Vitamin E, as BHA and BHT have been known to cause health problems including cancer! Some would say they are safe, but since dogs and cats pretty well eat the exact same food every single day, I feel it is best to steer clear.

Your income

While not the best deciding factor, a person does have to consider their own income when choosing a dog or cat food. However, even if you don’t have a high income you still need to get the food best for your pet. Although some foods may be more expensive, most of the time they are better for your pet. If you can’t afford the very high end of pet food, at least consider something better than the grocery store brands. In the long run, better food will save you money in vet costs and amount fed. This will also help you decide on feeding wet or dry food since dry foods are much less expensive than canned food, especially for larger dogs.

Pet’s health

Some dogs or cats may require a special diet due to certain health problems. There are many diets that are tailored to overweight pets, urinary problems, hairball issues, joint health, etc. Choosing a pet food that will help manage a health problem is a very important consideration. Some brands even make diets for high-energy pets (like young working dogs) or for indoor cats, who may need different nutrition than outdoor cats. Your vet will be the best person to speak with about special needs for your pet.

Pet’s Age

Most brands of pet food offer a variety of different formulas that are made for a specific age group. There are diets for puppies or kittens, adult animals, and senior animals. These specific diets help make sure that what you are feeding your pet, is what they need. Puppy and kitten foods have higher amounts of protein and calcium for proper growth and are also best for pregnant and nursing animals. There are even foods for large-breed puppies, that encourage slower growth for reducing the chance of joint issues. Adult foods are maintenance foods for most adult animals to keep them healthy for the majority of their lives. Adult dog foods can even be split into foods for large or small dogs, once again keeping the joints healthy in large breeds. Senior foods are generally for animals 7 years old and older (depending on the breed) to provide nutrition to help them through the later years. Most of the time these senior foods contain glucosamine and chondroitin to stave off arthritis or help any arthritis that has started. Foods for elderly pets often are also tailored for heart health and weight management.

Recommended Brands

I have tried different dog foods for my dogs over the years, as well as some different cat foods for my cats. Throughout the years, I have done ample research and even taken pet nutrition classes and have found some pet food brands I can highly recommend. I also have considered affordability. At this time I recommend Diamond Naturals dog and cat food. I personally use Diamond Naturals Indoor dry cat food for our cats. I feed Diamond Naturals Large Breed adult food to our dogs, though they aren’t that large I like that it has glucosamine and chondroitin in it for joint health.

Another brand that is excellent is Taste of the Wild, both for dogs and cats. It is more expensive than the other brand I mentioned, but it is really high quality. For our cats, I did feel they have trouble with fish in their food and I couldn’t find one of the Taste of the Wild cat foods that didn’t contain fish. The Diamond Naturals indoor cat food doesn’t contain any fish at all. The most important things when choosing a pet food are the ingredients and what actually works for your pet.