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Pet food industry tips: how to select the right food for your pet

Puppies need to be on puppy food because they burn more calories than adult dogs.
Photo by Gatesee CC BY-NC

Choosing a food for your dog or cat can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. The pet food industry can seem complicated. Knowing your pet and watching how it reacts to different foods is just a part of selecting the right food. It is also important to know about the different types of pet foods on the market. Knowing the basics of reading a bag of pet food is a great tool for pet owners to have in their tool box. The advantages to using a higher-grade pet food include easier clean-up, healthier skin and coat and over all immune health.

Breed sizes
The first thing to consider when selecting the right food is that each animal is different and will have a different set of needs. The food must meet these needs. Breed size will make a difference in food. Large breed pet foods usually have chondroitin and glucosamine added to support hip and joint health. The kibble will be appropriately sized. Small breed kibble will be smaller and easier to consume for the pet. Giant breed dog foods are available as well as breed specific foods. Royal Canin offers a great selection of premium breed specific pet foods for both dogs and cats.

The next step is selecting the right life stage. Puppy and kitten food is important to feed in the early life-stage. This food contains more calories as young pet’s burn more calories than adult pets. Puppy and kitten food is usually fed to the pet up until 12-14 months of age. But every pet develops differently so if a pet starts to pack on the pounds at ten months then switching to an adult food early is the right call. Once the pet is on adult food it can stay on the same food until 6-8 years of age. Then the animal can be switched to a senior diet. The senior food will be easier to digest for the animal and often has added nutrients for the older pet. There are exceptions when an animal will be on a life-stage food that is not accurate. For example pregnant and nursing pets should be on puppy or kitten food to provide calories for both the parent and the babies. Underweight pets are often switched to puppy or kitten food as well.

Grocery grade pet food
The most economically priced dry and wet pet food is grocery grade pet food. It can be found in most grocery stores, super stores and non-pet oriented stores. Pet experts strongly advise against using these foods. These foods contain mostly fillers such as heavy grains. Grains are not essential to a pet’s diet but act as bulk calories to fill the holes between meat products and other ingredients. Grains also contain gluten and gluten protein which is a common allergen in dogs. Grocery grade foods also usually contain meat by-products. There is no guarantee what parts of the animal go into meat by-products but it contains only five per cent real meat minimum. Often fillers and by-products appear much higher in the ingredients list on these foods. Don’t get me wrong- there is nothing intentionally harmful in these foods- they are balanced diets but often nothing else. They don’t contain many extras for the pet. Although these foods are economical in price pet owners actually end up spending more money because they have to feed so much more to their pet than if they bought a better, healthier food. Clean-up is often worse and more frequent. Skin and coat health can be affected due to a lack of omegas.

READ MORE to find out about healthy pet food options.

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