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Choosing A High Quality Pet Food.
Not all pet food is made equally. A lot of it is full of corn, by-products, dyes, unhealthy preservatives, filler grains and all sorts of nasty stuff. A lot of pet food companies are perfectly happy to the dump cheap leftovers and things that aren’t safe for human consumption (from human food processing plants) into their foods. Will it kill your pet? No, it has to be nutritionally complete and safe to even be marketed. Is it healthy? Not by a long shot.
Corn is a low quality ingredient you never want to see in your pet food. Corn and low quality grains are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to food allergies in our pets.
Thankfully, there are some excellent pet foods being made these days that include organic, human grade ingredients rather than trash not fit for human consumption.
Examples of low quality foods to avoid: Anything you can find in a grocery store will be low end, Purina, Iams, Eukanuba, Science Diet, Royal Canin, Pedigree, Whiskas, Friskies, Kibbles n’ Bits, Meow Mix, Beneful, Fancy Feast, Ol’Roy.
Examples of high quality foods to look for: Wellness, Solid Gold, Canidae All Life Stages (for dogs), Felidae (for cats), Fromm Four Star, Merrick, GO Natural, Nature’s Variety Prairie, Nature’s Logic, Artemis Fresh Mix, Timberwolf Organics (for dogs).
A whole lot more past the read more break.
Although the high quality foods are more expensive, you’re getting what you’re paying for. Less filler material and higher quality ingredients means more concentrated nutrients… this means you typically need to feed less of the high quality food than you would of the low quality one. Which also means less poop!
For those on a budget, two of the most affordable of the higher quality foods would be Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul and Canidae/Felidae.
Before following your vet’s food recommendation, keep in mind that vets get very little nutritional training during their schooling. Besides that, what training they do get is usually sponsored or taught by… you guessed it… biased, low end pet food companies. They also often get kickbacks from these companies for pushing their products at their clinics (Science Diet and Royal Canin being good examples).
A great option is to go with an entirely grain-free diet. Many of the high quality foods now put out grain-free formulas. This is especially a good idea for cats as diets high in grain and carbohydrates have been attributed to feline diabetes in cats.
Some good grain-free diets include: Wellness CORE, Nature’s Variety Instinct, Orijen, Horizon Legacy, Canidae Grain Free All Life Stages, Fromm Surf & Turf, Now!, Sold Gold Barking At The Moon (for dogs), Sold Gold Indigo Moon (for cats), Ziwipeak, and Taste of the Wild.
Some good foods can even be found in common, big chain pet stores. Petsmart carries Wellness, and Castor & Pollux Organix and Petco carries Wellness, Solid Gold, Natural Balance, Eagle Pack Holistic Select, Castor & Pollux Organix, Pinnacle, Merrick, and Halo.
If you can’t find a food, most of the high quality pet food brands have websites with store locators on them that will help you find the store closest to you that supplies their products. Simply type the pet food brand name into Google, go to their website, and type your zip code into their store locator.
Another option, if you can’t find anywhere around you that sells good foods, is to order your pet food online. PetFoodDirect is one of many online pet food stores available to order from.
Remember that foods should be switched gradually (mixing the new slowly in with the old over the period of about week or two), especially when switching to a higher quality one, so as not to upset tummies. For example:
Days 1 & 2: 75% old food, 25% new food
Days 3 & 4: 50% old food, 50% new food
Days 5 & 6: 25% old food, 75% new food
Day 7: 0% old food, 100% new food
Now the question with cats is, is it best to feed wet or dry food? Wet is the correct answer, believe it or not. The reason for this is the fact that, in the wild, felines normally get most of their water content directly from their prey items and drink very little on the side. Domestic cats are no different, and because of the fact that they are designed to take in water with their meal, they have a very low thirst drive.
Cats often just don’t drink enough. This leads to constant, low grade dehydration which in turn leads to urinary tract infections, crystals, and blockages (which can be deadly!). The bit about dry food being better for their teeth is a myth and has not been proven in the least (cats hardly even chew their dry food and, really, does chewing hard food clean your teeth?). Cats, like dogs, should have their teeth brushed with pet toothbrushes and pet toothpaste at least a few times a week as well as see the vet for dental cleanings when necessary regardless of what they are being fed. Canned/wet food is better because it more closely mimics the cat’s natural diet.
Another great option for getting cats to drink more water would be a cat fountain. Cats tend to like to drink from running water and cat fountains see to that need, encouraging cats to take in more water.
Feeding Your Cat: Know The Basics of Feline Nutrition (Why wet/canned food is healthiest. Excellent cat nutrition information by a vet)
Remember that freefeeding (leaving food down) is the fast lane to pet obesity. Make sure to have scheduled feeding times loosely based on the feeding guidelines on your pet’s food. Adult cats and dogs are typically fed two meals a day while puppies and kittens are typically fed three or four.
More on pet food:
The Dog Food Project (Learn how to determine the quality of your dog’s food.)
Dog Food Analysis (Dog food reviews. Four stars is a decent food, five stars is a great food, and six stars is an excellent food.)
Quick Cat Food Reference Table (Cat food reviews. Four stars is a good food, five stars is a great/excellent food. Click the name of the cat food brand for a more in-depth analysis of it.)
Natura Pet Products (Innova, EVO, California Natural, Karma, Healthwise and Mother Nature) used to be high quality pet food products, but Natura has sold out to Proctor & Gamble, a company known for both it’s animal testing and low quality pet foods (they put out the foods Iams and Eukanuba). If you are still feeding any of the products previously owned by Natura you may want to consider switching to a different food now that those products are owned by a large, shady company like Proctor & Gamble.