Friday, March 25, 2011

Choosing the Best Pet Food for Your Pet

By Valerie K. Kane, HSSV Volunteer

I recently blogged about how much my dog Tosha likes shopping at HSSV’s Whole Pets store. Unfortunately Tosha hasn't been shopping much recently. She had shoulder surgery two months ago and is still recovering. During her recovery, I've had to restrict her exercise. It’s a delicate balance, because less exercise might lead to weight gain, which would put unneeded pressure on her healing shoulder. I worried about whether I should put her on a different, leaner dog food during her recovery. But it had been years since I last changed her food. I wasn’t sure what to look for when choosing a dog food.

I decided to head over to Whole Pets and talk with store manager Robin Poncy. Before joining HSSV, Robin worked for Wellness pet food company, so she has a wealth of knowledge about pet food. She shared the following advice for those of us looking for a new pet food, whether you have a dog or cat.

Look Out for Fillers

Many pet foods contain ingredients like corn meal, wheat or rice hulls, or other grains which act as fillers. Fillers are used to increase the volume of the pet food or to bind the ingredients together, but they have little to no nutritive value. Watch out if these fillers are among the first ingredients listed on the package.

Pay Attention to Possible Allergies or Food Sensitivities

Some pets are allergic or sensitive to these typical fillers, causing problems like itchiness, flatulence and loose stools. Robin noted that whenever a customer comes to the store looking for a flea treatment, she always asks what food the pet is eating and if the customer actually saw any fleas. She’s found that itchiness is often caused by food sensitivities to various ingredients like fillers. So if you try a new pet food and notice some allergic reactions, try a food without fillers.

Check the Source of Protein

Another important factor in choosing a pet food is the kind of meat or protein used. While we might like to think that pet food only contains nice lean cuts of meat or chicken, often meat by products are used. These by products are animal parts that are not fit for human consumption, like various internal organs, connective tissue, bones, feathers, etc. At Whole Pets however Robin only stocks pet foods that use human grade ingredients, or in other words ingredients you and I could eat.

Compare the Costs per Serving

I’ve always assumed that “premium” foods are just going to cost a lot more. But if you only compare the price per bag, you may be fooled. For example, pet foods that contain a lot of filler make it look like you are getting more food for your money. But if you look at the serving sizes for these foods, you’ll find you have to feed much more food per meal than if you use a food that does not contain these fillers. So, Robin suggests comparing the costs per serving or per meal.

Tosha is now eating a weight management pet food, one of the brands that Robin stocks at Whole Pets of course. Her weight is stable and she’s recovering well from her surgery. She has even started physical therapy, which she enjoys partly because of all the yummy treats she gets--which leads me to the subject of my next blog post: selecting pet treats and even making your own treats, so stay tuned!

For more information about Whole Pets, including operating hours, see the Whole Pets homepage.

To keep up-to-date on pet food recalls, bookmark the Pet Food Safety page from the Humane Society of the United States.

1 comment:

  1. I think as a dog owner choosing right food for your dog is one of the most important part of taking care of your dog. i like the points you made like, the amount protein is good for dog.
    pet care safe