Buying pet food is no small feat. There are too many brands, variants, and exclusive food products for dogs and cats. It can be confusing and overwhelming to even decide on a brand of pet food. Then come the ingredients on the label, which seem familiar but can imply something entirely different. And, of course, your furball should enjoy the food you choose.
How and where do you start when buying pet food? Is there a way to ensure that your pet has all the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and strong? Does the pet food taste good enough?
Let’s find out.
Reading the Label
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends brands add a Nutritional Adequacy Statement on the label of the pet foods they sell. The label should clearly specify aspects like the animal type (dog/ cat), age group (pup/ adult/ etc.), and the type of nutrients provided.
For example, a label with the term ‘complete and balanced nutrition’ implies that the pet food has the minimum quantity of all the nutrients specified by AAFCO. This is followed by the mention of the pet’s life stage. A puppy’s requirements are different from that of an adult dog. A pregnant pet needs additional nutrients compared to a senior/ old pet.
This will give basic information about whether or not the pet food is suitable for your fur baby.
Brands spend a lot of money on marketing their pet foods as the absolute best. However, not all pet foods are good for your pet. Terms like premium, best-selling, ancient grains, all-natural, grain-free, etc., are popular and used on the labels. However, the actual product may or may not deliver what it promises.
Don’t make your decision based on advertisements intended to promote the brand. Don’t blindly trust pet stores to recommend the best brand for your pet. Pet stores often get a commission from brands for selling more of their products.
A better option is to talk to your pet’s vet. Ask for nutritional advice and a personalized diet chart, depending on your pet’s health condition.
Pet food is available for varied prices. Some are cheap, and some are super expensive. Petfoodbrands.net highlights the importance of finding a balance. Expensive pet food with a premium label may not always be worth the price.
At the same time, going for low-quality grain food because it is cheaper can have long-term effects on your pet’s health. The right way to choose a pet food is to determine based on the cost to feed instead of cost per volume. Quality and quantity are both important factors.
For example, pet foods with higher meat and quality ingredients offer greater nutritional value. These are easy to digest (which minimizes digestive problems) as you serve lesser quantities (instead of stuffing your pet with more food). This keeps them healthy and active.
In short, you will spend less money in the long run when you focus on the ‘cost to feed’ your pet without compromising nutritional value.
Ingredients to Choose
- Meat Protein
Meat plays a vital role in your pet’s growth and development. Choose brands that exclusively mention which meat is used and the protein percentage (‘contains meat flavor’ is not the same as ‘contains meat’). Organ meat and meat meals are a good choice, and so is bone broth.
Carbs provide energy for your pet. Grain-based protein and carbs are healthy (unless your pet is allergic). Peas are also a good source of carbs. Potatoes, soy, beans, etc., are some ingredients to check for carbohydrates.
- Fats and Oils
Healthy fats are necessary for your pet’s immune system, skin, and coat. These come from fatty acids, omega-3s, etc. Fish oil supplements, etc., should be included in their diet.
- Fruits and Veggies
From broccoli to blueberries, fruits, and vegetables provide other minerals, vitamins, and micronutrients required for your pet’s health.
Ingredients to Avoid
- Corn (ground meal/ gluten meal)
Corn is a cheap grain used in low-cost and premium pet foods. However, it doesn’t offer enough nutritional value.
- Artificial Colors and Flavors
Chemicals and their derivatives are not good for your pet’s health. These may enhance the appearance and taste but will cause long-term effects.
- Animal Fat & By-Products
Dry waste from slaughtered animals and restaurant grease is unhealthy for your pet. Avoid such foods even if they are pocket-friendly.
Whether you opt for homecooked pet food or store-bought (or a combination of both), it is essential to research what to feed your pet. Include healthy supplements in their diet and avoid junk food. Give importance to the vet’s advice and pay attention to any signs of allergic reactions. A healthy pet is a happy pet.