If you’re like many pet owners, you go into a pet store and stare at the stacks of pet foods and wonder where to even start. You then take a closer look at the packaging and sift through bags of product that boast “all natural ingredients,” “complete nutrition,” “prime cuts of meat,” and so on. While this all sounds like exactly the thing your dog or cat would love, that cryptic list of ingredients on the back probably leaves you feeling less than confident in the product. Here are some essential pieces of information you’ll need to get you and your best buddy on your way.
The best place to shop is at your locally owned pet supply store. The store owners and their employees tend to have a closer relationship with the supplier/food rep, which means a well-educated staff to offer you the best choices for your pet. Local pet supply stores also have the best selection of the quality foods your pet needs that aren’t even available through pet store chains and grocery stores. The best pet food companies are very particular about who sells their product. They want their product well represented by people that are able to educate the consumer.
Start by looking for companies that use human-grade foods that are sourced in the United States. More often than not, dog/cat foods are made of the “left-overs” or the by-products of the human food industry and labeled as unfit for human consumption. What this means is contamination. Grains are littered with molds, mites, and other insects, while meats or animal by-products carry infection and disease. There are far fewer guidelines and restrictions in the pet food industry than in our own. The AFFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) establishes nutritional standards and leaves it up to the pet food companies to be responsible and formulate products according to these standards. However, the AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve, or certify any of these pet foods in any way.
Next, search for a food that is made of ingredients that are appropriate for your carnivore. Accept nothing less than whole meats and vegetables, without grains like corn and wheat (fillers that have no place in your pets diet). Always be on the lookout for other unacceptable ingredients found in your pet’s foods, including artificial dyes, corn syrups and sugar, preservatives like BHA/BHT and ethoxyquin, and propylene glycol (yes, this is found in anti-freeze AND Purina’s Beneful).
So what happens to dogs and cats that are fed these poor quality “foods”? Because dogs and cats are fed the same food day in and day out, their diet does not vary and they are regularly exposed to high amounts of food contamination on a daily basis, which makes them more likely to suffer life-long ailments and disease. This includes things like food allergies from grain proteins (symptoms include dry itchy skin, excessive scratching and licking, chronic skin and ear infections, diarrhea, and hot spots), liver and kidney disease, as well as a variety of cancers.
Here is a quick list of the repeat dog and cat food offenders: Alpo, Ol’ Roy, Iams, Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, Pedigree, Purina, Science Diet, and Tuffy’s. Choose a company that goes above and beyond, offering quality ingredients, like Eagle Holistic, Nature’s Variety Instinct, Fromm, Solid Gold, Wellness Core, Taste of the Wild, or Orijen.
I know what you’re thinking. “Those higher quality foods probably cost more, right?” While you may pay a bit less for a bag of Purina or Iams, you can be sure that you’ll more than make up for the difference in vet bills, steroid shots, medications, medicated shampoos, and the silent suffering of your beloved pet. Feed your pet a diet of junky grains, additives, and diseased meat by-products, and that’s exactly what your best friend will get…a lot of junk (itchy skin, allergies, skin and ear infections) and disease (cancer, liver disease, tumors). When food is concerned, that old adage rings true: you get what you pay for.
Five Nutritional Supplements for Your Dog Supplements are beneficial for dogs to live a long and happy life. In today’s world there are numerous varieties of supplements to choose from. So how do you know if you are giving your dog the right supplements? Simplifying the wide array of products, there are five essential categories of supplements that every dg should be taking no matter what their life stage.
► A Multivitamin/Mineral
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that your dog’s body requires to achieve optimal wellness and provide nutritional support. Vitamins and minerals found in supplements cannot be manufactured by the body, giving them crucial role to play in maintaining the health of your dog.
► Fish Oil
Fish oils are in important source of omega 3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA. These “good fats” are beneficial because they not only make your dog’s skin and coat shine but also help to strengthen the immune system, nervous system, and keep blood flowing through the heart. It has also been shown that fish oil can help reduce inflammation in the joints. The most common fish oil comes from salmon but pollack, anchovy, and sardine varieties are available.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines and help to control yeast and harmful bacteria. Even though probiotics can be found in the intestines, it is still a good idea to provide added probiotics. Probiotics help improve your dog’s digestion and intestinal health. Think of dogs taking probiotics for the same reason that humans eat yogurt.
► Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes are needed to help further break down your dog’s food and other supplements, such as fish oil. This is necessary so the maximum amount of nutrients can be absorbed and utilized for proper digestion.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are like lubrication for your dog’s joints. They help the joint cartilage maintain a higher water content, allowing it to have an absorbing quality similar to that of a wet sponge. Joint cartilage lacking in glucosamine and chondroitin tends to become brittle like that of a dry sponge, and the chance of arthritis increases. It’s never too late to provide the best for your dog. Pet Food Plus offers an array of supplements to fit the needs of most dogs. Stop in to the store today to speak with our knowledgeable staff to find THE right supplements to fit your dog.
Dr Friedemann, Pet Foods Plus