Keeping your pet properly nourished is vital to their overall health and longevity. However, proper nourishment can’t be found just anywhere. In fact, there are a number of dog and cat food brands on the market that actively include ingredients that will drag your pet’s health down as opposed to offering them superior nutrition. In light of that, the BetterVet team is here to help you understand what to look for on the nutrition labels of your pet’s food for top-tier sustenance.
Ingredients to Look For In Dog Food
High-quality food keeps your dog healthy and happy. The food should furnish a complete and balanced diet with all the nutrition that your dog needs to be active and fit. The best diet can depend on whether you have a puppy or a senior citizen, a sick or healthy dog, a male or female, or one that is breeding. Get veterinary advice to find the right diet for your dog. Ingredients can vary, and every ingredient has a role to play!
Meat (including Organ Meat)
Meat provides much of the protein in a dog’s diet. Proteins are important in many ways and support growth, maintenance, reproduction, and repair of tissues. Proteins are particularly important to growing puppies. In addition to beef, chicken, fish, meals, and soy, organ meat such as chicken livers and giblets can provide protein to a balanced diet.
Healthy Fats and Fatty Acids
Nutrient-rich fats are an important energy source. They are also required to support important body functions. Examples of fats in a dog’s diet include animal fat and beef fat. Fatty acids are a specific kind of fat. They help regulate the dog’s inflammatory response and are important to a dog’s health, especially the skin and coat.
A complex carbohydrate, fiber differs from other starches in that it passes the small intestine and is fermented in the large intestine. Fiber adds bulk and absorbs excess water, which helps your dog to be regular and produce firm stools. Insoluble fiber is the type that best supports a dog’s digestive system, but the solubility of fiber and total digestible fiber (TGF) do not appear on pet food nutrition labels. You’ll need to seek veterinary advice. Examples of fiber in dog food include corn and brown rice, soy, and beet pulp, as well as pectin and cellulose.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals for a dog are important mostly for the same reasons they are important in humans. Dog food is typically fortified with vitamins and minerals, and it’s important that the food does not have too much or too little in the way of vitamins and minerals. Veterinary advice will help if you have questions. Vitamin A helps with normal vision and healthy skin, mucous membranes, and teeth. Vitamin D interacts with calcium and phosphorus to grow and maintain bones and teeth and to enhance the function of the intestines. Other common vitamins are Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B Complex, and Vitamin C. Vitamin-like substances include L-Carnitine, Carotenoids, and Flavonoids. Essential minerals include calcium, phosphate, copper, and iron.
Superfoods can be natural sources of some vitamins and minerals and other helpful substances. Veterinary advice can help you learn whether your dog can benefit from superfoods.
Ingredients to Look For In Cat Food
Cats are obligate carnivores: they evolved as hunters, which means that they rely on nutrients found in animal prey, bones and all (partly known as meat byproducts). When checking an ingredients list, look for meat, meat byproducts, and seafood among the first listed ingredients. Your cat needs a balanced diet with healthy food and nutrition at every stage of life, and the ideal diet for a thriving kitten is different from the ideal diet for a thriving older cat. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat all play a role keeping your cat healthy, from the muscles inside to the skin on the surface to the fur coat on top. Veterinary advice can help you identify a good balanced diet for your cat at every stage of life.
Protein helps build, maintain, and repair cells that make up the tissues in your cat. Chicken, beef, salmon, and tuna are excellent sources of protein. Healthy protein can also come from eggs and peas as well as corn meal and ground wheat.
Although taurine may sound like an artificial additive, it’s actually an amino acid found in protein from animal sources. It’s essential to the proper function of a cat’s vision, brain, and heart. Along with folic acid to encourage cell growth, taurine is especially valuable for your growing kitten.
Essential Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals, in the right amounts, are essential to a cat’s diet. For example, Vitamin A from liver and fish oil support vision, healthy skin, and a good immune system. Vitamin D builds bone and teeth, while Vitamin C and Vitamin E, from vegetable oils and supplements, help protect cells. Calcium from chicken, lamb, or fish meal strengthens bones and teeth. Phosphorus from meats, eggs, and dairy products likewise supports healthy bones and teeth, and also aids in cells and muscle function. Finally, Omega 3 and Omega 6, from eggs, fish oil, and flaxseed, promote healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Carbohydrates provide an easily absorbed source of energy for immediate activity. Sources include animal meat as well as corn meal, flaxseed, and ground whole-grain corn.
Fats and Fatty Acids
Fats help your cat store energy for later activity. Some sources of fats are dried eggs, fish oil, and soybean oil.
An Important Note on Reading Labels
Pet food labels follow guidelines established by the Federal Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials, a group that defines ingredients for commercial pet foods. When commercial food advertises one ingredient, such as “tuna,” guidelines require that the food contain 95% of that food. If the label uses a modifier such as “dinner” or “buffet,” the ingredient ranges from 25% to 95% of the total weight. Phrases using “with,” as in “with chicken,” mean the food may include only 3% of the ingredient.
Keep Your Pets Healthy with Quality Advice from BetterVet
BetterVet’s medical team consists of veterinary doctors and nurses who are trained in helping you select the right diet for your dog or cat, whether young or old, sick or healthy, spayed or pregnant. Our team evaluates your pet’s weight compared to the ideal on every home visit and can give you veterinary advice on nutrition through telemedicine as well. We welcome the opportunity to help dog and cat parents provide the right food for their pets.