What food is best for your pet?

Published 4:48 pm Monday, April 25, 2011

By DR. FRED SELF / Veterinarian

This time of year people are getting ready to go to the beach. To be prepared for wearing swimsuits, they exercise more and eat less. The best way to be prepared is to eat the right foods, nutritious foods, year round.

It is the same with pets. They should eat nutritious foods year round. The problem is knowing how to pick the right foods.

Our pets should not eat the way we do. Our diets are rarely ever balanced. Feeding that same diet to a dog or cat can lead to disease. Also, their bodies do not process certain foods as well as ours do. For instance, a single meal of chicken, or other meat products, can cause pancreatitis that can lead to death.

Recently, in advertising for both human and pet foods, a lot has been made about certain components in foods, like whey, gluten and high fructose corn syrup, for example.

According to television advertisements, these components of commonly eaten foods are pure evil.

Why? What makes these products so bad? In fact, nothing.

Unless you are allergic to them, these products are fine to consume. Do not be fooled by companies claiming their foods are better simply because these products are left out.

Remember to use the feeding scale on the pet food label. If you simply put down a cup of food twice a day, you may be over or under feeding. Not all kibble is the same size, and between types of kibble each piece may contain more or less nutrition. It is important to feed according to label instructions for the proper weight of the pet.

When choosing a pet food, the pet food labels are not the same as labels for human food. Pet food labeling is the same as livestock feed labeling. When you read the label, it is designed to help determine how much food should be added to your pet’s total ration, and also it does not describe digestibility of the nutrients.

When you buy food that is high in protein, remember that protein is expensive and possibly other nutrients are being left out. The manufacturer is relying on you to add those left-out nutrients by feeding other foods.

The best way to choose a pet food is to find a good name brand with multiple forms. They are more likely to be close to a balanced ration.

Don’t be fooled by shiny bags and fad diets!

Dr. Fred Self is a veterinarian at Shelbiana Animal Clinic in Columbiana, along with Dr. Charles Thornburg. You can reach the clinic at 669-7717.