Order up! What do pets need for food?

With everyone focusing on healthy eating, should you worry about your pet’s diet, too?
Lots of pet owners are health-food conscious. We try to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into our daily lives. We at least understand the importance of a balanced diet, and of various vitamins and minerals. Similar pushes for “healthy” pet foods are being made by pet food manufacturers. Since your pet depends on you for nutrition and because “health” foods can cost more, it’s important to know the big picture.
Proteins: Cats and dogs have different dietary needs than humans, and their protein needs are very specific. Some cat or dog food includes too much fiber and not enough protein, which can be a problem for either animal.
“Natural foods:” If you do decide to go “natural,” be sure to look for the word “natural” on the label. “Natural” is the only word defined and regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials AAFCO, while “organic” and “holistic” are not. “Natural” products might contain synthesized vitamins and minerals, but no other chemically synthesized ingredients.
Age and diet: Just like humans, pets have different nutritional needs as they grow. So possibly the most important consideration is making sure you are buying food appropriate for your pet’s stage of life. A younger pet eating adult pet food will not get the nutrition he needs to grow. An older pet eating food meant for younger animals is likely to become overweight.
Quality control: When considering a food, be sure you’re buying from a reputable company. The AAFCO sets guidelines that pet food manufacturers must meet. They also set the minimum dietary standards. An AAFCO label is a good indication that a specific pet food will meet the needs of your pet.

What do you think is most important for your pet’s nutrition? What are your priorities in the food your pet is fed?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Source: Kansas State University

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