A Message from the Vet - December 2010
Pet Nutrition

Choosing a pet food can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many options out there. Here are a few thoughts to consider when determining the best diet for your pet.

Commercial diets can be a great option for your pet. Properly formulated commercial diets are the best way to make sure your pet receives a well-balanced diet. However, not all brands are equal. When choosing a pet food, check for its AAFCO endorsement. As stated on their webpage, AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) is a voluntary membership association of governmental agencies to regulate the sale of animal foods and protect the consumer by making sure there is accountability in the pet food industry.

All commercial diets are required to report whether the diet is formulated or tested to meet the requirements for each life stage (i.e. puppy, adult, or senior). If the AAFCO statement declares the food has only been formulated, it has not undergone rigorous testing to substantiate the claims of their food. You will want to choose a food that has an AAFCO statement affirming the food has been tested. Additionally, if you are feeding a mature adult animal, make sure the food you pick has been tested to meet the needs of adult dogs. If you choose a food made for "all life stages", you are basically picking a puppy food, which contains more calories than adult dogs need.

A carefully-prepared homemade diet can be an alternative way to provide a well-balanced meal. It is important to cook any meat. Raw meat can increase your pet's risk for parasites as well as infectious diseases such as E. coli and Salmonella. This can also increase your family's risk for zoonotic diseases. A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be transmitted between animals and people.

You must determine the caloric needs of your pet, making sure to meet their needs but avoiding excesses. This information is available from your veterinarian, who can help you determine your pet's ideal weight and the calories necessary to maintain that weight. If you are making your own diet, we recommend adding a multivitamin daily to help fulfill your pet's vitamin and mineral requirements. If you are interested in homemade diets or have questions regarding cooking for your pet, contact us at Kailua Animal Clinic. We have a few recipes available for healthy pets as well as pets with health concerns.

These are just a few of the factors to consider when choosing a commercial pet food or cooking for your pet. It is important to research each diet thoroughly and discuss the decision with your veterinarian before making a purchase. Your veterinarian will have diet recommendations specific to your pet's life stage and health status.

Candice Denham, DVM

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