FEATURE — As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” This is as true for our pets as it is for ourselves. But with so many different diets and formulas on the shelves, the world of pet food may seem baffling.
What you feed your pet each day is an important decision you can make regarding his or her health and well-being. Taking a trip down the pet food aisle can be very overwhelming for any pet owner. With so many options, how can you ensure you are picking the right food for your pet?
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Here are a few tips to help you make an educated decision for your pet’s nutritional needs:
The Association of American Feed Control Officials regulates the sale and distribution of pet food and drug remedies. Every pet food label must have an AAFCO statement, which will indicate if the diet is complete and balanced, a snack or a treat; for which life stage it is appropriate; and if the diet was proven by a formula or feeding trial.
Choose a diet that is complete, balanced and appropriate for the life stage of your pet. Avoid pet foods that are meant for all life stages. Like people, pets’ nutritional requirements change with age. Puppies and kittens should be on puppy/kitten food until 1 year of age. Senior pets should be transitioned to a senior pet food at 7 years.
A growing number of our pets today are overweight. By keeping your pet in ideal body condition, you can extend their life. The amount you feed your pet should be based on recommendations on the food label and the body condition of your pet. Remember, each individual pet has a different metabolism. Therefore, the recommended feeding amounts may need to be adjusted to best suit your pet.
Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet based on the overall health of your pet and specific diseases that may be affecting them. Pet food companies that provide these prescription diets have performed studies to ensure the prescription diets will meet the nutritional requirements of pets with various medical conditions.
The amount of treats your pet consumes should be less than 10 percent of your pet’s nutritional intake. Carrots and green beans are excellent and healthy treat options. Avoid feeding your pet human food that is high in calories and fat, such as potato chips, your fast food hamburger or leftovers from dinner.
Written by Heather Boyter for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.
Heather Boyter received her bachelor’s degree in biology with a zoology emphasis with a minor in chemistry from Southern Utah University in 2008 and her doctorate in veterinary medicine from Mississippi State University, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012.
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