Seems I’ve been spending a lot more time on my pet food soapbox recently, so I thought I’d post a few of my most recent rants.

Don’t buy pet food on advertising alone.

Glamorous advertising persuades many pet owners to seek the beautiful vision of a perfect pet food. But do you really look at the label? Do you understand you must read the ingredient panel, not only the front of the bag? It’s also critical to question what’s behind the label. Where are the ingredients sourced? Where’s the food made and what is the reputation of the manufacturer? Today’s pet industry is global and you need to be aware of the benefits and issues that affect the quality of the food you serve.

Buy what’s good for your pet, not what you think your pet should eat.

Large volumes of whole grains may be excellent for you, but your cat and dog are carnivores requiring high levels of meat protein. Fresh vegetables can offer antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, but cats and dogs do just fine with minimal amounts–dogs maybe 25%, while cats do best under 10%. Remember, just because you like the way the label reads, doesn’t mean your pet can digest and utilize a particular food. Ingredient variations, cooking temperatures and added supplements all affect the palatability, digestibility and elimination. Chronic digestive issues, skin problems, urinary disorders, and even seizures can be the result of food intolerances.

Grain Free doesn’t necessarily mean high protein or low carb.

Grain Free isn’t for every dog or cat. Most pet owners aren’t aware grain-free doesn’t mean carbohydrate free. In many products, manufacturers simply replace a grain with another starch, one that may be more problematic for your pet. Not to mention, while many grain-frees promote higher protein, they are not all meat as many assume.

Don’t buy on price.

The most expensive does not equal the best. For the most part, you get what you pay for in the pet industry, but you must understand what the price tag represents. The most respected foods don’t have the balloon advertising and promotional budgets. They spend the money on better quality ingredients, production, and packaging.

Trust me, you’ve not tried everything.

There are at least 8000 types of pet foods, including dry, canned and raw. Before you say you’ve tried every food out there for your finicky cat or dog, compare the foods to educate yourself on what you are really feeding. Have you tried something other than dry, considered different proteins or checked for a common ingredient your pet may be intolerant of? Too often, we see a variation of similar products concealed by different brand names.

Don’t overfeed.

If you feed dry food it is easy to overfeed due to misinformation. Most dry foods, especially the grain-free versions are packed with calories. Consider it rocket fuel. Understand too, the reason your pet likes the food is because of the flavoring it’s coated with, not the stellar ingredients you are enamored by. Overfeeding can result in chronic vomiting, digestive issues, finickiness, and, of course, obesity. Learn your companion’s calorie needs for their best body condition.

Okay, that’s enough for now…


Previously published in PetSage blog, 4/18/2015.
© Terri Grow, 2020
Terri Grow writes and speaks on pet health and welfare, working with veterinarians, trainers, shelters and manufacturers to empower canine and feline health through diets, herbal therapies, supplements and environmental adjustments.