The Pet Food Breakdown: Choosing the right food for your pet

Categories: Pet Health

A small white dog and white and black spotted cat eating from a dish.

So Many Choices...

We love our pets, right? Right! So it's only natural that we want them to have a healthy diet that they love, but with so many options available it can be hard to decide what type of food is right for your pet. Should you find a good dry food? What about wet food? Should you ditch the supermarket and make it yourself? All of these are valid options, and each of them have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Dry Food

Dry food, or kibble, is one of the most common food sources for our pets, and it's easy to see why. It's economical, it doesn't spoil easily, and it's number one in convenience. A quality dry food can provide an excellent source of protein and other essential nutrients for your pet, but there are some negatives. Dry foods typically contain less protein than wet foods, and are more likely to contain synthetic preservatives. They are also typically high in calories, and contain more carbohydrates, which can be particularly bad for cats. However, by choosing the right food, you can avoid most of these negatives, so here are some things to watch out for when selecting a dry food for your pet:

  • Always read the label, and make sure your kibble of choice uses a named animal protein as one of it's main ingredients, such as chicken, beef, etc. Ambiguous terms such as "meat" or "poultry" should be avoided.
  • While your looking at the label, make sure your pets food does not contain generic sources of fat such as "animal fat".
  • Check the best-by date! You'll want to get a food that has a shelf life of at least 6 months, but dates up to two years from the manufacturing date can indicate use of synthetic preservatives.
  • Avoid added sweeteners and artificial coloring, flavoring, and preservatives.
  • Make sure your food is certified by AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials.

Wet Food

If there's one thing that both dogs and cats can agree on, it's wet food. Most pets seem to love it, but how does it stack up in the nutrition department? Typically, wet foods will contain more protein then their dry counterparts, and have less need for synthetic preservatives and added carbohydrates. They also have the added bonus of being, well, wet, which is great for our feline friends. There are some draw backs to wet foods, though. For example, they tend to contain more fat, which is a necessary part of a balanced diet, but too much fat can definitely be a concern. Wet food will also spoil faster once opened, so be sure to refrigerate opened cans and clean up any food that remains in the bowl for more than two hours. You may also find yourself doing more clean up, as wet food can be a bit messy. Some things to look out for when choosing a wet food for your pet include:

  • Once again, check the label! Just like with dry food, you want to make sure your food uses  a named animal protein as one of it's main ingredients and no generic sources of fat.
  • Check the fat content! To know for sure how much fat your pet needs in their diet, be sure to talk to your veterinarian.
  • Look for the AAFCO seal of approval to assure it's certification!
  • Once again, avoid added sweeteners and artificial coloring, flavoring, and preservatives.

Homemade Pet Food

Making your own pet food has become increasingly more popular in recent years, and it's appeal is obvious. You know exactly what's in it because, well, you made it! By making your pets food you can tailor them to your pets needs, but there are some drawbacks. This feeding method can be very expensive, and very time consuming. In order to feed your pets a successful diet, you must do your homework and make sure it meets all your pets dietary and nutritional needs. If you would like to give this method a try, it's recommended that you talk with your veterinarian to come up with a meal plan that's right for your pet.