Today’s internet and social media are laden with articles and advice regarding grain-free, raw, organic, gluten-free, holistic, home-cooked, and you-name-it diets for our pets. Current trends even imply that commercially prepared pet foods are substandard for your pet, and that the best pet owners only feed their pet this “fill in the blank” pet food. Muddling through all of the information and misinformation regarding this topic can be overwhelming.
What is actually the best food to feed your pet?
Firstly, it is important to recognize that your veterinarian has more extensive training and knowledge about pet nutrition and gastrointestinal physiology than most pet store employees, breeders, online blogs or forums. Ask your veterinarian what their recommendation for your pet’s diet would be, and you will receive the assistance you need to select a diet based on your pet’s health needs.
Here are some basic considerations for pet owners:
What is AAFCO and what do they do?
“The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.” AAFCO helps establish nutritional standards for pet foods. For more information, visit the Association of American Feed Control Officials at www.aafco.org. Review the diet you choose for your pet and see if it is formulated to AAFCO guidelines.
Grain-Free: Is it Better?
For pets with a true grain allergy, grain-free diets are very important to help prevent numerous issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, or pruritis (itchy skin). Grain-allergic pets, proven to have grain allergy by allergy testing, are the pets who benefit from a grain-free diet. For the rest of our furry pals, you may be able to save some extra cash by sticking with a quality commercially-prepared diet that includes corn and wheat (these ingredients actually do have nutritional value for your pet in the form of protein and fiber).
Raw Diets: Are they Better?
There are currently no published, peer-reviewed articles supporting any health benefits to raw diets for pets. Published reports do exist regarding the incidence of gastroenteritis and even death in animals consuming diets containing raw meat. Raw diets can also pose a danger to human individuals in the household who may become ill after bacterial cross-contamination. Unless recommended by your veterinarian, commercial diets are a safer option for you and for your pet.