(NC)Do you consider your furry friend as part of the family? If so, do you give the same careful consideration to your four-legged family member's diet as you do to the other members of your household?
Dr. Sherry Sanderson BS, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN, animal nutrition expert and associate professor, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, offers the following DOs and DON'Ts to keep in mind when you are planning Fluffy or Fido's next meal.
DO look at the order of ingredients on the package and select a food that lists an animal-based protein as one of the first ingredients. Animal proteins are more digestible than plant-based proteins and contain essential amino acids (EAA) that dogs and cats need for optimal growth and development.
DO look for a food that has the prebiotic FOS (fructooligosaccharides) now found in Iams and Eukanuba pet foods to help promote intestinal and immune system health.
DON'T cringe at fats. Fats are an essential part of the diet and are needed for absorption of fat-soluable vitamins A, E and K. Special types of fats also provide additional health benefits. For example, Eukanuba Puppy Formulas contain DHA which contributes to proper puppy brain development and EPA which helps reduce inflammation.
DO look for customized carbohydrate blends to best meet the energy needs of the intended life stage and lifestyle of your pet.
DO choose a food that has moderately fermentable fibres such as beet or citrus pulp, apple or tomato pomace, rice bran or pea fibre. When bacteria act on moderately fermentable fibres, they release short chain fatty acids that enhance intestinal health and nutrient absorption.
DON'T forget to read the feeding guidelines on pet food packaging as they estimate the daily quantity to feed a cat or dog. However some dogs and cats may require a different quantity of food than what is listed on the label. Consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about the amount of food you should be feeding your pet.
DO choose a food with nutrient levels appropriate to your pet's age, breed and other health or nutritional needs.
DON'T forget the water. Water is one of the most important nutrients in a pet's diet. Without it, a pet can become rapidly dehydrated and the body cannot transport nutrients for energy, regulate temperature or eliminate waste.