Commercial dog food has only been available since the late 1800s. Its remarkable when you look at how many different diets are available these days versus even just 30 years ago, when most every dog ate Dog Chow and most every cat ate Dog Chow. No, thats not a typo, most cats did eat dog food and thats when people started realizing that our domesticated pets needed their own specifically balanced nutrition. If you walk into a pet store today you will likely be bombarded with information about pet food. Unfortunately, the information you will be receiving will likely be from someone who has been taught about several specific brands of pet food and not by someone who has been taught about the dietary needs of our domesticated pets.
If you are wondering what we recommend at Best Friends, look no further. The doctors and staff recommend any pet food labeled by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). Having this label should provide us with the security that the food inside of the bag is complete and nutritionally balanced. Of course there are many brands of food that are AAFCO approved and generally the higher the cost of the food, the better quality of ingredients. In the hospital we carry special veterinary diets by both Purina and Hills Science Diet. For over the counter diets, look for Purina Pro Plan, Purina ONE, Science Diet, Eukanuba by Iams, Nutro Max, Diamond, Eagle Pack, etc. Also, be on the lookout for the many brands labeled as premium or holistic or natural, such terms currently have no legal definitions, so use caution when paying more for these products. That is not to say that they arent perfectly fine options, its best just to be aware.
Another hot topic discussed amongst dog enthusiasts is the RAW diet. This is literally feeding your dog raw meats, eggs, bones, grains, etc. The main thing that is overlooked by almost everyone who feeds or recommends a RAW diet is the possibility of contamination. The likelihood of exposing yourself, your family and obviously your pet to salmonella, e-coli, or other contaminants found in raw meats and eggs greatly out-weighs the supposed benefits of feeding a RAW diet. The RAW diet is definitely not something recommended by the veterinarians at Best Friends Veterinary Hospital.
Once you have decided on the brand and type of pet food to feed your pet, you should try to stick to it. The more your switch your pets food the greater the risk of upsetting his stomach. We also recommend twice daily meal feeding. This offers you a chance to measure the amount of calories your pet is consuming everyday as well as being able to monitor your pets appetite. If you give your pet treats or people food, dont forget to include those calories in your pets daily calorie intake and be sure to stay away from high fat items such as sausages, bacon, pork, etc.
When it comes to very young kittens, we actually encourage offering a variety of different types and textures of food. Studies have shown that kittens who were offered several different types of foods before the age of six months actually grew up to be less finicky eaters as adult cats.
Please feel free to do your research and make your own decisions on what you think will benefit your furry family member. We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding your pets diet, feeding schedule and exercise regimen.