Tech Corner: On Pet Nutrition

Post By: Candace

Thinking about proper nutrition is an important part of owning a pet. Many of us are guilty of selecting our pet’s food based on some flashy packaging, a convincing commercial or vague recommendations from a friend. But there is much more to pet food than most of us realize! During your next trip to the pet store, take a look at the packaging on several foods.

One thing we often overlook is calorie content. Every life stage needs a different amount of calories, as do pets trying to gain or lose weight. Calorie count can vary greatly between brands and can mean the difference between a pet staying healthy or becoming overweight.

Ingredients are just as important as calories. Ingredients are listed in order of weight before processing. Dry ingredients are sometimes broken down into their smaller components to make it seem like there is less of them, as the average person doesn’t read beyond the first few ingredients. Remember: byproducts aren’t always bad. They include organ meats, which are the most nutritional part of an animal to consume.

The “guaranteed analysis” is a general nutrient content: you want the actual protein amounts for the food. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need a higher protein diet than dogs do. (Dogs are omnivores, like people!)

Grains are always a hot topic, as companies market grain-free food as a step above the rest. However, grains are not your enemy! They can be an important part of your pet’s diet, providing essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Grain-free foods may be higher in fat and calories or contain fewer nutritional starches. Pets with food sensitivities often get put on grain-free diets by well-meaning but misinformed parents. The most common food allergies in dogs are actually beef, dairy and chicken.

Every animal is different, so what works for one pet may not work for another. If you suspect your pet needs a change in diet, talk to your Oaklawn Animal Hospital vet about the best options for your dog or cat’s individual needs.