We’ve all heard the adage, “You are what you eat.”
But what about our four-legged friends?
Pet food marketers do their jobs well: They all want you to think their product is the best for your fur baby. But there’s still some research required.
Here is what I’ve learned.
For starters, dogs and cats are carnivores. Even though most have come to believe dogs can eat anything they want, new studies by Dr. Wouter Hendriks of Utrecht University’s veterinary school in the Netherlands has discovered it is not necessarily so. Dogs have merely adapted to their domesticated environments. Commercial pet foods must list meat — preferably organic — as their first ingredient to truly maximize health benefits for your pet. Meat meals are OK, but the actual meat is better.
NEVER choose food that lists any by-product. It is akin to mystery meat and is sourced from all sorts of unsavory left-over animal parts; it can even contain feces. Grains are not ideal and should never be found among the first three ingredients. Some animals are allergic to grains and especially to corn, which you should completely avoid feeding your pet.
One key ingredient to maintaining your pet’s health is d-alpha-tocopherol, better known as Vitamin E. Check for that version of Vitamin E, which is more bio-available. This ingredient should not be further than seven down in the ingredient list!
Your dog, in particular, needs polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), omega-3, and omega-6.
Adding a good 20 mg fish oil capsule (puncture the capsule and mix into wet food) will do the trick. These types of fats, along with Vitamin E, play vital roles for skin, coat, eye, brain, the immune system, and cell function.
And, when changing your dog’s diet, do so slowly over a week by gradually adding small amounts of the new food to the old while simultaneously reducing the quantity of the old food. This allows your pooch’s system to adjust to its new food.
For cats, a regular diet of tuna fish is harmful. It contains mercury, and it can deplete Vitamin E and other beneficial vitamins and nutrients. So, tuna in moderation, please!
Always talk to your vet before changing your pet’s diet. Your vet can help provide more specific tips for your pet’s particular breed and medical history.