Understanding the Gigantic Pet Food Industry
It’s a common scenario: pet owners peruse the seemingly endless aisles of pet food not entirely sure which ones would actually benefit the health and wellness of their best friends. There’s grain-free. There’s organic. There are interesting ingredients like kangaroo, ostrich, blueberry, and artichoke (to say nothing of the ones no one can pronounce!).
The bottom line is that choosing the right pet food is fraught with confusion and even fear. Do you just want to feed your pet the best possible diet? The team at Animal Medical Hospital is here to help!
A Lay of the Land
You want to feed your pet what they need in order to have long, healthy life, but you don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time or money. The right food also has to satisfy your pet’s hunger so they won’t be begging you for treats or snacks in between meals.
To Meat or Not to Meat?
Pet food is a billion dollar industry, and the marketing and packaging does little to help consumers separate science from myth.
Protein is essential, especially for obligate carnivores, such as cats. You may see an increase in ingredients like lamb, chicken, fish, turkey, or duck in pet foods because they deliver high percentages of amino acids. Because ingredient labels must detail what a product contains in decreasing order by weight, you’ll typically see a high-value protein listed first.
A Word on Grain-Free
Due in part to its influence on human products, grain-free pet food has experienced a surge in popularity lately. Unfortunately, many grain-free foods can have more added fat to make it tastier to animals, a fact that contributes to soaring levels of pet obesity. Also, recent studies have shown that certain grain free diets contribute to canine dilated cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart. You can always contact us if you have questions or concerns about your pet’s food.
If Not That, Then What?
Given the variety of pet food on the market, it can be frustrating to choose between them all. Looking at the ingredient label is a good place to start. Also, the nutritional adequacy statement found on most pet food products is based on the nutritional profiles set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
In addition to protein, ingredients like fruit, vegetables, and moderate grains provide essential nutrients and antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in salmon, flax, and canola oil, round out many ingredient lists.
When choosing a pet food, look for the following:
- The product is formulated to meet the high standards set forth by the AAFCO.
- Ensure the product is specific to your pet’s species and life-stage.
In other words, pet food must be balanced with the minimum amount of nutrients. Take care to measure portions exactly.
It’s not recommended to feed your pet products that are designed for supplemental, temporary, or intermittent use in place of regular meals.
We take pride in helping you find the right pet food. We work with you to find a product that meets the nutritional needs of your pet based on age, activity level, medical conditions, and more. We carry many diets in house and offer many more through our online pharmacy. If you have additional questions or concerns about pet food, please give us a call.