Protein, essential fatty acids, fat content, and carbohydrates… These terms are well-known, but when it comes to pet nutrition, a lot of different factors come into play. For instance, an animal’s breed, age, lifestyle, and existing health conditions can set into motion a whole flurry of questions about what they need nutritionally, and what they can do without. All pets benefit from an individualized, balanced diet, and some animals require additional nutritional supplements and vitamins.
Carriage Hills Animal Hospital is here to help decode what’s right for your sweet pet.
Pet food labels can be very frustrating to read, let alone understand. Getting a grip on the nutritional standards of pet food starts with recognizing the endorsement of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). If the pet nutrition is balanced and complete, the label will say it’s been formulated to meet nutrient profiles, or that it provides nutrition for intended animals.
It’s important to read the ingredients, of course, but the guaranteed analysis numbers are important indicators of how your pet might process or metabolize the food. Paying close attention to the amount of calories in a cup, can, or other serving can help you choose the right portions sizes, as well.
There are so many products on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one. Between the shiny, flashy bags and the health claims of certain products, it’s easy to get charmed by the promise of some pet foods.
Since you’d never want to feed your senior dog puppy chow, or your kitten a type of food designed for an older or aging feline, it’s critical to find the right balance of pet nutrition tailored for their specific juncture in life. Indeed, feeding for the right stage in life is necessary to support optimal pet nutrition.
Pet Nutrition for Health
Similarly, many pets benefit from speciality food, such as Hill’s Science Diet or Hill’s Prescription Diet. Formulated to support various conditions, like arthritis, kidney disease, weight loss, and skin sensitivities, these foods meet a pet’s nutritional needs while mitigating symptoms.
A Word on Snacks
Healthy treats are great, and they help considerably towards reaffirming positive behavior. However, it’s easy to over-treat a pet, especially one who constantly begs for one. Counting your pet’s calories may seem tedious, but it’s an important task, given the increase of pet obesity and diabetes.
On average, a pet shouldn’t receive more than 10% of their daily calories from snacks or treats. Anything you give your pet for training or medication purposes should be accounted for and subtracted from the total calories needed per day.
The Long View
Please keep in mind that we are available to assist you with guidance regarding pet nutrition, and hope that our suggestions guide your pet to the best possible diet. That way, you get to enjoy more time together!