9 Common Pet Food Questions Answered

Is it OK to give my pet table scraps?

That depends on what and how much is fed. Pets that receive a therapeutic diet should not have table scraps, because this can cause variation in their diet that may negate the benefit of feeding a therapeutic diet. For other pets, feeding large amounts can increase your pet’s risk of obesity. What’s more, some people food is toxic or unsafe for pets. Some examples include chocolate, onions,high-fat foods like butter and oil (they can lead to pancreatitis or intestinal problems), dairy products (most pets lose the ability to adequately digest milk) and raw eggs (because of the potential for bacteria).

What about raw food diets—are they safe for my pet?

Raw food diets have potential drawbacks, including causing nutritional imbalances and deficiencies and the risk of infectious disease like salmonella. Because of these and other risks, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend feeding raw food diets to pets. If you’re interested in feeding your pet a raw food diet, talk to your veterinarian.

What should I look for in a pet food?

It’s important to read the label. In addition to listing the nutrients and the guaranteed analysis (the minimum or maximum amount of four essential nutrients: water, fiber, protein and fat), the label provides a nutritional adequacy statement that details which animal the diet is intended for, if it is complete and balanced and if it should be fed under veterinary supervision. Ideally, choose a food that bears the seal of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and one that has been through AAFCO feeding trials—this tells you that it was actually fed to dogs or cats before sale. Be sure to work with your veterinarian to choose a food that’s appropriate for your pet’s size and age and that meets any special nutritional requirements.

When it comes to dry or canned food, is one better for my pet?

Depending on the diet, the manufacturer and your preferences, both are acceptable. Dry food is made by mixing dry ingredients with water; the dough is then baked and cut into shapes. For this reason, ingredients may be listed as meals (for example, chicken meal). Canned foods have a higher water content.

Remember, the best way to decide what food is right for your pet is to talk with your veterinarian, who can provide individual nutritional advice that you—and your pet—can sink your teeth into.

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