(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
When it comes to selecting the right food for their dogs, people often agonize about choosing among a myriad of options. Given that 95 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family, according to a Nielsen survey on The Humanization of Pet Food, pet parents typically want to provide a well-balanced diet, made from quality ingredients.
Whether looking to introduce variety into a pet’s diet or address a problem, such as a food sensitivity or weight issue, the right pet food can nurture pets and address health issues.
“There are so many well-formulated dog foods to choose from today,” said Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, senior nutritionist, Petcurean. “Like humans, all animals are unique, so it just takes a little patience and persistence to find the recipe that is best for each pet.”
Keep these tips in mind when evaluating what might be best for your pup:
Look at the ingredients: High-quality, whole-food ingredients like fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and grains provide the essential nutrients your dog requires. They are also a source of other important dietary components such as antioxidants and plant-based nutrients to support optimal health.
Select a protein source: For dogs with food sensitivities, selecting a protein source can be tricky. If you suspect a food sensitivity, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. You’ll also need to begin testing alternative food options to identify a formula your dog can tolerate. If you are not sure which proteins your dog is sensitive to, try something more obscure, such as duck or pollock.
A limited-ingredient diet may also be beneficial to lessen the chance of an adverse food reaction. These diets usually contain a single-source, novel protein and have a limited number of ingredients, which decreases the odds of your pup eating something that doesn’t agree with his or her stomach.
Consider activity level and weight: You may need to choose a food that is designed to meet specific needs. For example, an overweight dog may need a food with fewer calories. With a calorie-reduced food, you may be able to feed the same volume, but your dog will take in fewer calories. Alternatively, high-energy and active dogs may require food higher in fat and carbohydrates.
Look for healthy fats: Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can provide health benefits in dogs. The omega-3 content of a food can sometimes be found in the guaranteed analysis on the packaging. Some examples of ingredients that contain omega-3 fatty acids are salmon oil, flax oil and canola oil. A good guideline is to look for foods that contain an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio between 5:1-10:1.
Think about rotational feeding: You also may want to consider a rotational diet, which can allow your pet to experience different flavors and textures and discourage picky eating. This approach also encourages varied proteins and food forms.
For those looking to change things up for their pet without making a full switch, there are also creative ways to add variety to your pet’s diet, such as adding wet food, mixers or toppers. Consider an option like GO! Solutions Meal Mixers, which feature freeze-dried, functional ingredients including single-source primary proteins and whole fruits and veggies. Available in four recipes that address different dietary needs, the mixers can be incorporated into dry kibble, stews or pates or served as a snack to add a boost of concentrated nutrition.
Find additional help choosing the right food for your dog’s dietary needs at PetcureanGo.com.
— Family Features
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)