Pet Nutrition – The Importance of an Excellent Diet for your Pet

One of the most important things you can do for your animal is to give it and excellent diet. The tide in the canine/feline food market has definitely turned toward those foods that are formulated from high quality or human grade ingredients, specifically those with high meat content. I am encouraged as I see the label readers because an informed pet owner is our best customer. There is developing a greater understanding of the label. More consumers have an understanding of what by-products are and what grains are highly allergenic and which may have beneficial nutritional value. The understanding of the canine and feline diet has led many to the conclusion that dogs and cats prefer meat to grain and that their digestive systems were never designed to process large amounts of grain.

The question arises as to the benefit of grain at all. Many dogs and cats are overweight and have other health issues, but others do well on high quality pet foods containing whole grains along with the meat. High quality grains quite often have beneficial nutritional value, however too often grains are added as filler and has either no nutritional value or even a negative effect on your pets health. A whole-meat source should be one of the first two ingredients, preferably two of the top three. Watch for diets that split the grains in their ingredient listing. An example of splitting is listing ground yellow corn and corn gluten meal as separate items when adding them together may make corn the first ingredient instead of the meat that is listed as first. Avoid diets heavy in corn as corn is a problematic grain and is difficult for carnivores to digest. It is often the source for many allergies and yeast infection problems. Others to avoid would be brewer’s rice (a waste product), soybean meal (a common allergen), corn gluten meal (what is left after all nutritional content has been removed), wheat (thought to be the leading allergen), tomato pumice (a filler with no nutritional value) and beet pulp (a by product after the sugar is extracted—no nutritional value).

Those quality grains that can have a beneficial impact on the nutritional requirements of your cat or dog include rice, oats and barley which are whole grains and good quality sources of carbohydrates and additional protein. Other quality ingredients to look for are potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables, whole eggs, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, and added probiotics. Watch the meat content closely. When a meat is listed as “whole” it is an indication that it was added to the ingredient list before the water content has been removed as it must be when formed into a kibble. The water content is about 80% so when the meat is listed as such it should actually be listed much further down on the ingredient list. Look for meat meals to be two to three of the first four ingredients. Meat meal is the meat after the water has been removed. We congratulate the growing community of label readers for take such great interest in their pet’s nutrition and health.

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