You Are What You Eat: Why Proper Pet Nutrition Matters
Providing our pets with the food they need to grow and sustain a healthy life is one of the more important aspects of responsible pet ownership. But with so many brands of pet food out there, along with new ideas about what pets should and shouldn’t be eating cropping up nearly every day, figuring out what to feed your pet can be confusing at best.
At Dickinson Animal Hospital and Pet Wellness Center, our goal is to find the right diet for each pet that walks through our doors. Deciphering pet nutrition can be tricky, but with the right tools in place (and a little help from us!), it’s possible to find the perfect diet for your four-legged, exotic, and avian friends.
Pet Nutrition Basics
Creating a balanced pet nutrition plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but it will require a little elbow grease on your part. Start by making sure you have the following bases covered:
- Read labels – For your furry friends, look for pet food with the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement on the packaging. Make sure that the food you buy corresponds to your pet’s life stage, and that it ideally lists meat as one of the first few ingredients.
- Do your research – Grain-free, organic, wholistic, and the raw diet are just a few of the many pet food trends, all of which are touted as “the best.” Keep in mind that, unless your pet has a documented food allergy, a nutritionally balanced, commercial food that corresponds to their life stage is the ideal diet for most pets.
- Be consistent – Feed your pet at the same time each day. If you choose to introduce a new type of food, do so slowly and be on the lookout for signs of stomach upset or other issues.
- Watch for problems – Food allergies can crop up unexpectedly, even if your pet has been eating the same food for years. If your pet is experiencing unexplained itchiness, skin problems, or gastrointestinal troubles, give us a call.
Over half of U.S. pets are overweight or obese, which puts them at risk for a variety of health problems such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and certain cancers. When left to their own devices, many pets will eat far more calories than necessary, which is why it’s up to pet owners to make sure their pets are getting the right amount of food. Your veterinarian can point you in the right direction concerning the ideal portion size for your pet, which will be dictated by variables such as their age, activity level, genetics, and the type of food you are using.
Treats or No Treats?
Nutrient-dense treats, given in moderation, can be a valuable part of your pet’s diet. There are plenty of healthy, high-quality options available at any pet supply store, or you can simply offer your pet a small amount of fresh, pet-safe fruits and/or vegetables as a snack.
Pet Nutrition in Dickinson
Much like human nutrition, pet nutrition isn’t one-size-fits-all. We understand that every pet is an individual, and we are happy to work closely with you to figure out the right nutrition plan for your sweet pet! Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions, or to make an appointment for your pet.