Certainly, what your pet eats is a major source of his or her health and
well-being. But how can you be sure that your pet's food is truly
nutritious and safe?
Understanding the labeling on pet foods could easily be the subject of a
book, so this article will provide you with an introductory overview of
the basics with the caveat that you should do more research on your
For example, did you know that pet food labels are actually considered a
legal document in the United States? And that there are federal and
often state regulations that a pet food manufacturer must comply with?
Yet, they also want to make a profit, so often the ingredients the
manufacturers use are not high quality or human-grade. What are some
things to look for when choosing a food for your pet?
The two main rules of thumb I adhere to are that if the food can be
purchased either in a supermarket or a discount department store, it may
not be very good quality. And second, if there is any mention of
by-products on the label, beware, as often these are the ground up parts
of animals that a dog or cat would not normally eat. Some by-products
however, may contain substances that can benefit your pet.
Here is a partial list of some articles I found online that go into
greater depth on how to read pet food labels and I chose them because
the websites are not overtly affiliated with any pet food manufacturers:
Another option that many pet owners subscribe to today is making their
own pet foods from scratch. However, there is great debate about
offering an all raw diet, an all meat diet or a combination of meats and
fruits and vegetables. And, if your pet has any food allergies or
sensitivities, these must also be taken into consideration.
So, do your research and make as informed decision as you can. Remember
too, that you certainly can change your pet's diet if it doesn't seem to
be serving them well. Don't do it abruptly but gradually introduce the
new food over the course of a week or so and pay attention to your pet's
stool and his or her energy levels.
I had a cat who adored cantaloupe and whenever she smelled me eating it,
would come and sit nearby waiting for me to give her some. Did it harm
her? Not that I could see. Would I have given her nothing but
cantaloupe? No. But was it a part of her regular diet? Yes.
Along the same lines, my dog also enjoyed some types of fruit and
initially, I offered her a variety so I could learn which ones she
liked. Thereafter, fruit was included as a regular part of her diet too.
In conclusion, educate yourself as much as possible in making decisions
about what you feed your pet, including finding out whether your pet has
any food allergies or sensitivities. Know which foods should be avoided
(and know which house plants can be poisonous to pets too!). Observe
any reactions, ask questions of your friends who have pets and use
Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer