Most pet parents have a fairly regimented diet for their pets, choosing to feed their pets the same prepackaged pet food each day. It’s not really something they consider. Prepackaged food is theoretically formulated to provide pets with all the nutrients they need, so what’s to think about? It’s true that pets do fine with mostly kibble. Once you find a food that your pet tolerates, digests well and eats without prompting, switching up the routine feels like rocking the boat. Indeed, many pets get quite ill when you change their daily diet suddenly. That doesn’t mean that your pet won’t enjoy a little change, however. Pets with regular and healthy digestive systems can tolerate little deviances from their usual meals. Treats, when given sparingly (as they should be—commercial treats are often loaded with fat and sugar) are something you can switch out fairly often. Keep a couple different types of treats on hand. It’s ideal to keep treats with two different textures; soft, small bites for rewards and crunchier bites to allow pets to chew. Store them in airtight containers to ensure that they stay fresh. If you wish to make your own treats, choose recipes that aren’t high in sugar or too fatty. When it comes to prepackaged food and treats, expensive isn’t necessarily better. Talk to your vet and other pet owners to find recommendations. Look at the labels and ensure that your pet is getting what it needs. If you’re not sure, do some research! The internet has a wealth of information about pet health and your vet would be happy to help you. Making your pet’s main meals may be of interest to some pet owners. While time consuming, this gives you a better insight into what your pet is eating. Some exceptionally researchminded pet owners could possibly manage their pet’s every nutritional need, but for the most part, it’s too time consuming and difficult to even attempt. Instead, make your own pet meals a few nights a week and feed with prepackaged food most nights, or mix cooked food halfsies with prepackaged. Cats benefit from a mix of hard food and soft. Cats don’t have a natural instinct to balance their water intake with their food, so a dry-only diet can result in dehydration. There are different types of cat food for indoor and outdoor cats, and for various stages of life. Vegetarian and vegan diets for cats are not ideal. They require nutrients that are often found only in animal tissue. Instead, focus on veg treats and perhaps serve one totally veg meal a week. Choosing food for your dog depends on their preferences. Some dogs prefer wet food over dry, and vice versa. Neither is necessarily more beneficial. Look for the AAFCO adequacy statement that says the food meets the nutritional needs of dogs. There are various sorts of food for different dog lifestyles and stages of life; choose one that seems to match your pet. Pet owners who wish to transition their dogs to a vegan or vegetarian diet will find it easier than managing a cat’s veg diet needs. For other pets, study up on what diets work well for other pet owners. Look into the dietary needs of your pet and see if there’s something you’ve missed—many pets require additional calcium, Vitamin C or salt that a kibble diet can’t properly provide. Find what fresh fruits, vegetables or proteins that your pet may enjoy as a snack or as a substitute for a kibble diet. Transitioning a pet’s typical meals to another sort should be done slowly, with careful monitoring and with guidance from a veterinarian. Begin transitioning to a new kibble or food type by serving 3-to-1 ration of old food to new for a week, then 2-to-1 for a week, then 1-to-1 for a week. Feed the pet strictly the new food for two weeks, then evaluate. Your pet should have a shiny coat, bright eyes, normal stools and an overall healthy appearance. If in the process your pet has prolonged diarrhea, excess vomiting or other bad symptoms, discontinue use of the new food and consult your vet. Some diarrhea and upset stomach can be expected. When it comes to your pet’s diet, your vet should be your first resource when you’re making decisions about what’s best. The internet can put a lot of tools at your fingertips, so research some options then ask your vet for input.
Posted on 2012-06-01 by Amanda Harper