Pet food is a world for itself. Walk into any pet store, and you’ll be inundated with dozens of different types of pet food. Within one brand, you will find different flavours, kibble sizes, age recommendations, lifestyle recommendations, and more. Absent your veterinarian’s advice, it can be a bit overwhelming to determine exactly what you should be feeding your pet.
Pet Food and Life Stages
You want to pick a diet that meets your pet’s nutritional needs, which often involves looking for diets that are for an appropriate life stage. Growing pets need nutrients for their growing bodies, while senior dogs and cats often need special factors in their diet, such as lower levels of protein. Activity levels should also be considered when feeding your pet. Active pets need more calories than sedentary pets. If your dog spends all day outdoors with you running or hunting, you’ll want to select a performance diet. But for your cat that sits on the couch all day, you’d do better to choose a calorie-restricted indoor weight management diet. Certain food companies make diets that are geared towards specific breeds. If you have one of these breeds, it can be a great way to get balanced nutrition into your pet’s meal. For example, the Royal Canin Boxer diet has taurine added for heart health, while the Royal Canin Labrador diet is designed so your pup can’t woof down his food and choke.
With recalls occurring constantly, you might want to home cook a diet for your pet or even feed them a raw diet. The biggest disadvantage to doing this is that it is very easy to feed a meal that isn’t balanced. Always work with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist if you are going to prepare a diet for your pet. If feeding a raw diet, you need to take special steps to keep you and your pet healthy. Practice good hygiene and always feed human-grade meats. Use care if giving bones, as these can cause obstruction or splinter in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
If you need to switch pet foods, either for health or economical reasons, or if you’ve found a portion of better food, you will want to make the transition gradually. Abrupt diet changes can lead to significant health issues for your dog or cat, often causing vomiting and diarrhoea, particularly in sensitive pets. When you transition between foods, you want to start with mostly the original diet, usually around 75%, and mix in the new food at a portion of roughly 25%. Feed this for several days before moving to a 50:50 mix of old and new food. After several more days, you will want to offer mostly new, with a small amount of old, before completing the transition with all new food. If your dog or cat develops any gastrointestinal upset, you can try backing down to the previous proportion as you might have moved too quickly. It may also mean that your pet can’t handle the new food, so you should consider a different diet.
Deciding what pet food to feed your pet can be a challenge and can result in health issues if you make the wrong choice. When you take your pet in for their semi-annual or annual check-up, make sure to discuss diet with your veterinarian to ensure you’re feeding something appropriate for their age and lifestyle. My Peterinarian is owned by a trained veterinarian. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s food or diet, send us a message today! If you’re ready you can book a pet sitter here.