January 12, 2022 Wellness

How to Choose the Right Pet Food in 2022

Two cats eating dry pet food

How to Choose the Right Pet Food in 2022

Many of us look at the new year as an opportunity to improve our health. Pet owners should consider the same for their pets. To help you get 2022 off on the right paw, I am devoting January’s blog posts to healthy living suggestions for pets. The first blog post focused on your pet’s annual examination by their primary care veterinarian. Because healthy eating is part of healthy living, this week’s post covers my tips for choosing a food for your pet.

Read Pet Food Labels

Pet food labels contain valuable information to help you choose the right food. To ensure your pet’s food is complete and balanced, choose a food with a label that has an AAFCO statement, nutritional claim or complete and balanced statement. AAFCO is the American Association of Feed Control Officials, and you can see an example of their statement in the photograph to the right. To obtain an AAFCO statement, pet food manufacturers must submit their product and data for review by the AAFCO. In the example above, the product is wet food for an adult cat. Pet foods are formulated for specific ages and health considerations of companion animals, so always be sure to read the label to make sure you’re buying the right formulation for your animal.

Avoid Grain-Free Pet Food

There are literally hundreds of pet foods you can choose from, with constantly evolving formulas and trends to entice human purchasers. A recent trend you should avoid is grain-free pet foods. Although the exact connection is unknown, grain-free diets have been linked to a fatal heart muscle abnormality called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), according to scientists at the United States Food and Drug Administration and veterinary nutritionists and cardiologists. I know not all dogs eating a grain-free diet will develop a heart muscle abnormality, but because we cannot predict which dogs will, choosing a diet with grain is currently safer, unless your dog has a medical condition precluding a diet with grain. If your dog eats a grain-free diet as part of treatment for a medical condition, talk to your pet’s veterinarian about cardiac monitoring.

Learn more on our Pet Health Library

Pet Food and Supply Chain Issues

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding your pet’s favorite food has fallen prey to supply chain issues. My clients, and pet owners around the country, are scrambling to keep their pet’s pantry shelves stocked. To avoid disruption in your pet’s diet, consider finding a few different foods that meet the criteria set out in this blog post. Try foods from different manufacturers in case one food abruptly goes off the market. Supply chain issues aside, I generally recommend rotating pet food products so your pet (and their tummy) will not become overly dependent on one specific product, which can be subject to supply shortages, recalls, and discontinuation. Of course, if you pet requires a specific product due to a health condition, be sure to discuss alternatives with your pet’s veterinarian.

Pet Food Delivery

In 2022, food delivery services, online retailers and grocery stores offer convenient options for you to purchase your pet’s food. Though it helps to choose a food that is easy to acquire. I once had a client who was always out of her dog’s food because she had to drive 30 miles to a boutique pet food store since that store was the only one carrying that food. Once we switched her dog to a more readily available pet food, her life was greatly simplified.

Include Your Pet In Your Pet Food Decision

The choice between canned, dry or a combination is up to you and your pet, as both formulations are equally nutritious. When introducing a new food, start slowly and give your pet a chance to acclimate. However, if your pet rejects the food, it’s not the right one. But at least you now know how to choose responsible options to try, try again!

In the end, there is no one right food for your pet, but by choosing a complete and balanced diet that your pet loves and you can easily purchase puts your pet on the road to heathy eating.

Tags: AAFCO, DCM, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Grain-Free Pet Food, pet food, Pet Food Labels, pet food recalls, Pet Food Shortages, Supply Chain Issues,

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