Contributed by Dr. Alison Birken, owner and DVM of Victoria Park Animal Hospital.
Benefits of High-Quality Dog Food and Cat Food
Working as a small animal veterinarian for over 10 years now, I have seen a significant shift in the way pet parents are feeding their pets. Pet nutrition has become one of the most talked about and relevant topics concerning our pet’s health. Just like us, what we feed our pets directly affects their energy levels, overall well-being and health. I discuss with my pets parents many different types of diets, such as the raw diet, the gluten-free diet, novel protein diets, organic diets, and so on, and my advice always focuses on the quality of the diet. So today I would like to discuss feeding your pet a high-quality food and how that can have a huge impact on dog nutrition and cat nutrition, while preventing ailments from affecting your pet down the road. But first, in order to understand the best way to feed your pet, we need to learn the key differences between high-quality and low-quality pet foods.
What Is High-Quality Food?
For pet parents, knowing what is the best food for dogs and cats is important. High-quality food originates from the ingredients that make up the diet. Higher quality diets include unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins. Higher quality foods contain no by-products, fillers, chemical preservatives, or artificial colors and flavors. These diets may contain all-natural supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
What Is Low-Quality Food?
Lower quality foods come from low-quality ingredients. Lower-quality foods and diets tend to contain processed ingredients, refined grains and sugars, artificial flavors, chemical additives, sugar additives and by-products.
Why Should I Feed My Pet High-Quality Food?
What you feed your pet is the fuel and energy they need for not only survival, but their overall health and well-being. Many foods will provide and meet the basic requirements to sustain life, however higher-quality foods will result in optimal dog nutrition and cat nutrition.
Higher quality foods have better digestibility than lower quality foods. Digestibility describes the amount of nutrients from a food source that are absorbed by the body and converted into energy and metabolism for life. This means that more of the food they eat gets transferred into useable nutrients, and thus, energy and optimal health. Many of the lower quality diets contain ingredients that are not digestible, which means they pass into the stool with no nutritional benefit to your pet.
In addition to decreased digestibility, lower quality diets contain certain dietary preservatives, synthetic chemicals, artificial flavors and fillers that can pose health concerns and cause a negative effect on your pets overall health and well-being. We all know the negative impact low-quality foods have on our bodies, from decreased energy to diseases. It is no different for our pets.
People often equate what they eat to what their pets eat, but don’t understand the core difference. People eat an array of foods. Pet parents usually feed their pets the same exact meal every day. So, where healthy people may have some “lower quality” foods every now and then, this does not become a big problem when we combine them with other foods that are of a higher quality.
Pets do not have that option. They eat the same meal daily, and can be exposed to chemicals, additives, artificial flavors and fillers, without questioning the quality of their food. They cannot make up for a “cheat day” or a “cheat meal” like we can. It is important and our responsibility as their parents to make the right choices for them.
Some High-Quality Food Options:
As more people are opting to serve their pet nutritionally sound food, the pet food industry is developing higher quality dog food and cat food that meets their customers’ needs. There is plenty of high-quality dog food and cat food on the market, so it all comes down to deciding what is the best dog food and cat food available.
Tylee’s Beef Recipe Human-Grade Dog Food gives your pup all the benefits of a homemade meal, without any of the typical preparation time involved. The real meat and healthy fruits and vegetables in this recipe go through minimal processing, so they retain their valuable properties for quality dog nutrition.
The Honest Kitchen Force Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food is packed with delicious, nutritious produce and free-range chicken—ideal for adult dogs of all breeds and sizes. The first five ingredients are real chicken, organic flaxseed, potatoes, celery and sweet potatoes, so you know your dog will be eating a high-quality food.
For cats, there’s Tiki Cat King Kamehameha Luau Variety Pack cat food with real ahi tuna, sardine cutlets or mackerel cutlets as the first ingredient. These recipes are gluten-, carbohydrate-, starch- and flour-free for a biologically appropriate diet that will give your feline the best cat nutrition available.
How Can I Ensure My Pet Is Getting a High-Quality Diet?
So now that we have a better understanding of what a high-quality cat food and dog food is, we can make sure that our pets are eating the best. Here are my top tips for making sure you help feed your pet the best quality dog food and cat food:
Read the ingredient list. All ingredients in a diet are listed on the package from descending order of weight. So, generally speaking, the first 5-7 items on the list are the major ingredients in the food. You want the top ingredients to be real meats, whole grains and vegetables, avoiding diets with ingredients that list by-products, unnamed meat meals and partial grains.
Avoid harmful ingredients. Look on the ingredient list for harmful additives. Try to avoid ingredients that list artificial preservatives, synthetic chemicals, artificial flavors and fillers (wheat mill run, rice bran, corn brain, hulls and certain pulps) that can pose health concerns and cause a negative effect on your pet’s overall health and well-being.
With the increasing knowledge and awareness of nutrition and its impact on our overall health, it is only natural that people want to feed their pets the best dog foods and cat foods available. The pet food market is growing rapidly, and higher quality foods are becoming more readily available for our pets. It is more convenient and easier than ever to ensure your pet is getting the best. As a small animal veterinarian, I love that pet parents are becoming more actively involved in the health and wellness of their pets and realizing that nothing is more important than pet nutrition. Our pets rely on us to make the right choices for them. Providing them with a high-quality diet is one of the most important choices we can make for them, and they will repay us with many years of unfaltering devotion, love and health.