For humans, a balanced diet is essential to our health and fitness. We can't eat junk food every day, or we'll eventually end up at our doctor's office. The same is true for our pets. If we feed them a nutritionally balanced diet intended for their needs, they'll live a happier and healthier life for many years.
Dr. Anita Fosburg from the Humane Society of Utah joined us with some important information for all pet parents.
She says you don't need to buy the most expensive food out there but pay more attention to the ingredients than the commercials. Feeding a low-quality food may cause problems and cost you more money down the road at your vet's office.
So what ingredients should we look for in pet food? Dr. Fosburg says our dogs and cats are carnivores and require more animal protein in their diets to get amino acids. For cats, protein should make up 35-45 percent of their food and for dogs, 20 to 30 percent. A balanced, high-quality kibble is okay to feed dogs. Cats can have kibble and canned wet food since they tend to drink less water. You can also add a little water to kibble to soften it.
Avoid feeding a low-quality food that has fillers, carbohydrates, artificial coloring or a poor-quality plant protein. Grain-free food is a great choice.
Dr. Fosburg says make sure your pet stays on their balanced diet. Avoid vegetables, grains tuna out of a can for cats, and don't give cats cow's milk. Don't feed your pet table scraps since some of our food contains sugar, sodium and spices that can upset their GI tract. Stick to high-quality commercial-grade food.
If you have a picky dog or cat that won't eat healthy food, check with your private veterinarian to determine what they recommend for your pet. But you may want to try a different brand of food or try new flavors gradually. You can also mix a new, healthy food in with what your pet has been eating and increase the ratio over time to get them used to the new food.
If you pet eats too quickly, try a puzzle feeder or try hiding their food in different places. Dogs and cats enjoy working for their food. It offers enrichment while preventing them from overeating too quickly.