It seems you can’t turn on your television without seeing at least one pet food commercial. And admittedly, their marketing strategies are phenomenal. But, is it just that, marketing? We all want to hear that we are feeding our pets the best foods, but the reality is, not all pet foods and companies are created equally. Before buying a car, there’s a good chance you do your research. Why should making or buying pet food be any different for your furry family member? Pet food companies marketing their products as “grain-free”, “all natural”, “limited ingredient”, or “farm-to-table”, certainly appeals to many owners. It may cost more on the shelf, but the quality may not be worth the price tag.
Currently, there is no data supporting “grain-free” diets as being a benefit to your pet’s health over regular diets except in rare cases of grain intolerances. If your pet does seem to improve on a “grain-free” diet, it won’t hurt to continue them on it (besides the likely hit to your wallet). These diets can be higher in carbohydrates and calories than regular pet foods. Always check the label and watch their weight. Some commercials infer that corn meal and animal by-products in your pet’s food are not good for them. Again, there is no research to back this claim. In fact, animal by-products refer to pieces of meat such as liver and kidneys (not beaks and feet like the name probably conjures up). These meats are chock full of the vitamins and minerals animals need to thrive in addition to the muscle meat we generally think of as edible meat. Home-cooked diets should be avoided unless under the direct supervision of a veterinarian to ensure your pet is taking in all necessary nutrients.
As always, your veterinarian is your greatest asset in helping you find a pet food that is right for you and your pet. We’ve spent hours in nutrition courses and continuing education. We can tell you which companies do their research and which don’t foot the bill. Chances are we’ll also tell you which foods our personal pets have done well on!