From kitten and puppyhood through the golden years, nutrition plays an important role in your pet’s health. But with so many options in the pet food aisles, how can you be sure you’re choosing the right ones for your pet’s age, weight, activity level and any existing medical conditions? Here are some things you should know when looking at labels.
The building blocks for organs and tissues, proteins are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. As a general rule of thumb, the protein source should be listed as one of the first two ingredients. Look for named proteins (i.e. chicken, beef, lamb, salmon) instead of ambiguous words like “meat” or “poultry”. To grow at a healthy rate, puppies and kittens require higher protein levels.
Pets rely on fats for their main source of energy, which is why higher fat content is important for active and growing pets. Fats give your pet more than twice the amount of energy per gram as carbohydrates and proteins, and are needed to support a healthy immune system, coat and skin. Quality fats in your pet’s diet can come from sources such as fish oil, seed oil or animal fats.
While carbohydrates shouldn’t be a major source of energy for pets, they offer a practical way to provide energy while supporting gastrointestinal health. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains and vegetables such as barley, millet, peas, sweet potatoes and sorghum. Since overconsumption can lead to obesity, a low to moderate carb content is generally best.
Most of your pet’s body is comprised of water, life’s most critical nutrient. Losing 10% of the body’s total fluids can cause serious illness, and a 15% loss can be fatal. Dogs need access to fresh, clean water at all times. If you’re able to commit to regular cleaning, a fountain is a great way to encourage your cat’s interest in drinking.
Let us help you sort through all the options to ensure your pet is receiving the most balanced diet for his or her needs. A nutritional counseling session is a great place to start.