By Megan Schneider, DVM
October 1st, 2019
What to Feed Fido?
How do you decide what to feed your dog? Rows and rows of food aisles at the pet stores – even entire stores devoted to pet food… It can be overwhelming with all the choices. So many brands, flavors, even types of dog food out there. The packaging on each bag, can, or “fresh roll” of food promising to provide the best nutrition – the best skin, the best coat… the best life for your pet. The decision gets further complicated by the FDA’s investigation into the link between popular grain-free diets and heart disease. So, how do you choose?
Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind:
- Canned, dry, or commercial “fresh” diets? Any of the above can provide good nutrition for your pet as long as you monitor for any adverse effects (diarrhea, vomiting, or changes in coat or weight) and follow the guidelines below.
- The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines recommend the following:
- Check to make sure the manufacturer’s name and contact information is available on the package. This allows you to contact the company directly for any questions regarding the ingredients, manufacturing process, or development of the diet.
- Check the package for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) stating that this is a “complete and balanced diet” and whether that designation was earned by analysis of the food, or by a feeding trial.
- Diets in fun shapes or colors are formulated to look interesting to people, not necessarily to improve nutrition. Colorful kibble can indicate the addition of unnecessary dyes.
- Limited ingredient diets can be helpful for dogs with documented food allergies but they are generally unnecessary for otherwise healthy pets. In fact, it is important to remember that commercially available “limited ingredient” diets may still contain traces of potential allergens.
- The FDA is currently investigating a link between grain-free, or legume-heavy, diets and the increase in unexpected heart disease in dogs. At this time, the link is not clear, but to avoid putting your pet at risk for developing heart failure, we recommend avoiding grain-free diets until we have more information.
- The veterinarians at Valet Vet typically recommend pet food brands associated with companies who work with veterinary nutritionists and who participate in nutritional studies to know what nutrients, in what amounts, are necessary for our canine (and feline) companions. These companies are also large enough to know where their ingredients come from, and how they are processed and handled. These brands include Purina Pro Plan, Science Diet and Royal Canin.