How important is your Pet’s Diet?!
Nowadays there are literally hundreds of brands and types of pet foods to choose from, which can make it doubly hard for a pet owner to decide which is best. While it is all important to create a comparison of each pet food brand out there, there are a few fundamentals that you can use as a guide for choosing the right food for your dog or cat.
The food you choose to feed your pet is one of the most important decisions you will make as your pet’s diet affects so many things;
Long term health
From weaning through to senior years your pets diet more than any other factor will determine the quality and length of their life. No food suits every animal, so what you currently feed or have fed your pets may not suit this one. Different animals do better on different diets, so choosing a food will almost certainly entail and certain amount of trial and error. Puppy food should be fed until the dog reaches 80% of its expected adult weight, which is usually around 12 months of age, a bit earlier in small breeds, can be later in large breeds. Kitten food may be fed until about 6 months of age.
Unclear labelling on packaging is a good way of pet food companies confusing us with their jargon. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, the highest being first and usually (hopefully!) protein.
Meat content (protein) again varies from diet to diet. Many of the top quality diets use human grade meat sources. Foods labels that state Meat & animal derivatives can be any fleshy parts of the carcass and are nutritionally very poor. Also because species is not specified the type of meat can be changed from batch to batch – not good for pets that have food intolerances or allergies. Better quality foods will label fresh boneless chicken/duck/turkey for example.
Unfortunately meat is an expensive ingredient and many lower grade foods substitute meat with a cheaper protein sourcessuch as soya meal, maize gluten, potato meal and veg protein – which is much harder for them to break down and digest.
Bulking agents like maize and wheat are often added as a cheap alternative.
Vitamins and minerals in cheaper diets can be added artificially. Better quality pet foods get their vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables added to the diet.
Artificial preservatives are added to the poorer quality diets, to add colour to the kibbles. It is also worth mentioning that most studies indicate that dogs are largely colour-blind so the only role of the colourings is to appeal to the owner. They also have strong links to behavioural problem…much like in children.
Preservatives – Propylene Glycol is a synthetic compound that is used in moist or semi- moist dog foods, as it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Propylene glycol remains a source of controversy. This is partly due to regular links to asthma and allergic reactions and partly because propylene glycol’s other commercial uses (including car antifreeze and in de-icing aircraft) don’t inspire too much confidence in dog owners. Bear in mind that as puppies grow they lay down fat cells, and if you let your puppy become overweight at a young age then your adult dog will ALWAYS be predisposed to being obese.