How to Choose High Quality Pet Food
Most people who have pets love them tremendously and wouldn’t dream of feeding them anything that wouldn’t be good for them or isn’t a high quality food. The problem is that, when we buy food for ourselves or our loved ones including our pets, we rarely take the time to look at the ingredients list, or the nutritional data of the food. And when we do, we are usually more used to reading them with a human being in mind, rather than a dog, or a cat.
Unfortunately, paying attention to details is a necessity, specially when it comes to buying high quality pet food. Many big pet food companies seem to be in the business for the money, and not for their love of pets in general, even if it may have been their main concern in the beginning. Of course, I am not saying that all commercial pet food is bad, and you can certainly find high quality ones fairly easily. But, I feel that many brands try to cut down on the expenses by adding ingredients that we would never feed our pets, if we had known about them.
We should choose what we put in our bodies or our pets bodies by first examining our internal organs. For example, a carnivorous pet will have a short digestive tract, designed to get rid of the meat as fast as possible. An herbivorous pet on the other hand will have a long digestive tract, to extract all benefits and nutrients from the ingested plant food.
But take a look at most cat foods. Cats are 100% carnivores, and while some dogs can be vegetarian if they eat the proper diet, cats absolutely have to eat a meat based diet to not be deficient in certain amino acids that can only be found in meat. But many cat foods have grains as their first ingredient, instead of meat. Why would this be? It’s simple. Cornmeal is cheaper than high quality beef or chicken.
I said that some dogs can be vegetarian. This is true, but you also have to take into consideration your dog’s food allergies. For example, my dog is very hyperactive. He absolutely does not do well on grain protein. At first, I bought him a well known supposedly high quality dry food. He was doing more or less alright on it, but was pretty hyper. Then, we decided to pick up a bag of a cheaper also well known dog food brand. Now, we thought, it is cheaper, but it surely must follow certain rules and regulations. But immediately after eating a bowl of it, he was not only extremely hyper, but he was also very aggressive. The difference was the lower percentage of protein, and the higher quantity of grains in the pet food.
I found that for dogs to be most healthy, they need a high protein diet with on average 25% protein. You may want to keep this in mind when buying dog food, if you feel that your dog could benefit from a more healthy diet. Surprisingly, many dog foods have under 20% protein.
Also, look for high quality, human grade meat as the first ingredients, specially for cats. My cats eat high quality human grade meat in a dry kibble, and they are very healthy with a very soft and shiny coat. My mother switched her hyper cat to a high quality food, and now her cat is much better. I also make sure to feed them high quality canned food every once in a while, as dry cat food is dehydrating in the long run and cats cannot drink enough water every day to make up for it. If you can afford it, high quality raw meat is by far the best option. You just need to add bones and organs to the meat in order for your cats to have a complete diet, or you can buy meat, bones and organs already pre-ground into conveniently sized medallions.
I don’t want to advertise brands, so just look for a few important things:
– Cat food should have meat as its first ingredient, and by that I don’t mean beaks and claws (called animal by products on the label). Actually, those should be avoided at all costs. 30% of protein is a good number and usually indicates a high quality pet food.
– Cat food should have no more than 0.09% magnesium to reduce the risks of crystals in the bladder, and a minimal amount of ashes (phosphates). Any more and the quality of the food definitely suffers.
– Make sure grains aren’t the first ingredient, and when possible, choose a grain free kibble. If you can only afford dry food as the bulk of their diet, try to vary it regularly with canned food and raw meat every once in a while.
– As I said, high quality raw food is very good for pets. When I bought raw chicken for my cats, they went completely wild for it. They didn’t need much time to adjust, they just adored it within days after I introduced it. Unfortunately, it is pretty expensive if you can’t find high quality meat where you live and therefore need to order it. However, cats will benefit from at least a little raw meat added to their meal rotation, as dry kibbles are not the freshest source of food, and they can be highly processed. Choose a very good, reputable brand that cares more about the pets than advertising its brand on TV to ensure the high quality of your chosen pet food..
– Supplements are not necessary, but sometimes they can be helpful. My dog has a dry coat in the winter, and adding salmon oil really improves the dryness. Plus, he loves it.
Also, you can use vitamins as part of your training routine. My dog used to show his teeth and growl when I’d touch his paws. After training using vitamins as rewards, he shakes without a second thought when asked!
For more options of healthy food for your dog, you can click here. This site will provide you wide variety of tips about healthy preparation of your dog’s food so you’ll assure that he or she is in a healthy condition and free from any diseases.
I have read that some pet food companies use carcasses of euthanized cats and dogs as part of the ingredients. I don’t know how true this is, specially after the mad cow disease scandal, but I’d rather stick to high quality pet food. Then, you will be almost certain that you are feeding your pets the best food available.