Pet Food BowlWith so many pet food options available, finding the right diet for your pet can be difficult. When choosing a pet food, it is best to go with one that has a Veterinarian on staff and that has completed clinical trials. This means that the diet has been properly formulated and fed to animals before hitting the market. Pet food should be balanced with the proper vitamins and nutrients to support healthy growth and development for different ages, making it important to buy age-specific food for your pet. Puppies and kittens have different dietary requirements than senior pets so buying food labeled for all life stages is not ideal.

One important thing to remember when thinking about pet food is that they are not labeled the same as human food. When looking at an ingredient list on the back of a bag, ingredients are listed by weight rather than nutritional value. Pet food labels also list nutrients as a minimum and maximum, not by calories. Real caloric breakdown of the food must be obtained from the pet food company, which may not be available if clinical nutritional trials were not performed. Our preferred clinically proven brands include Science Diet (best for dogs), Purina (best for cats), Iams, and Royal Canin.

Cats especially, need to be fed a balanced cat food as they require taurine. Taurine is an essential amino acid, which they must obtain from their diet because it is not made naturally in the body. A taurine deficiency has severe health repercussions such as heart disease, blindness and tooth decay. When feeding cats, wet food is recommended over dry food as it more closely mimics their natural diet. Wet food is also lower in calories, which helps keep cats lean, and provides more water into their diet which is especially important in male cats to prevent urinary blockages.

If an animal has a food allergy, it is the protein in the food that they react to. The most common food allergies are to chicken and beef and not to grain. Sometimes food allergies can be remedied by switching to a different protein source such as venison or duck. To diagnose a food allergy, a strict diet trial with a prescription diet must be done for a minimum of three months and that includes no extra treats. In some animals, the food allergies are more severe and the animal needs to be put on a diet where the protein is hydrolyzed, meaning it is so small that the body does not detect it and therefore doesn’t react. If you feel your animal may have a food allergy, you should consult with your veterinarian for more information.  

The veterinarians and staff of Torrington Animal Hospital are always here to help you decide which diet is right for your pet. Call us anytime at (860) 489-4231.