What to Know About Pet Diet

When it comes to our pets, we want to do what is best for them. But the abundance of available information about what to feed your pet can be overwhelming. The SPCA of Northern Nevada’s Lead Veterinarian Dr. Christina Hansen details the main things you should know about your pet’s diet.

Consider transitioning your pet to wet food to add more protein to her diet.

Wet Food is Best

Your pet’s diet should include wet food. Cats need high amounts of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. Most kibbles do not have the amount of protein your cat needs, and only feeding kibble can lead to obesity and health problems. Dogs also need a high amount of protein, but because they are omnivores they tolerate carbohydrates better than cats.

Wet food helps keep your cat hydrated. Natural prey animals for cats are made up of about 70% water, so they are used to getting most of their water intake through their food. Kibble does not have a high water content. Dehydration in cats can lead to urine crystals, which can be painful and expensive to treat. 

Adding wet food to your pet’s diet can also improve their dental condition. Pets who eat only kibble are at a higher risk of developing dental disease, while those who eat wet food have healthier teeth.  This is because wet food has a greater protein content than dry food, and this causes a higher pH in the mouth and inhibits tartar-causing bacteria. 

To introduce wet food to your pet’s diet, you can feed it in addition to kibble at first and then transition to it completely after some time. Serve it on the side of your pet’s kibble, or try mixing it in with the kibble.

Do Not Feed a Grain-Free Diet

In light of current diet trends, you may wonder if your pet needs to eat a grain-free diet. We do not recommend this. 

A recent study from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine found that grain-free diets can put dogs at risk of heart disease. This is because these grain-free foods have high amounts of legumes, which they believe lead to a taurine deficiency. Taurine is an amino acid important to heart health. Research into this issue is still ongoing, you can find more information on the FDA’s website. We recommend choosing foods with healthy grains and low amounts of legumes.

Many dry foods for cats are plant based with added synthetic taurine since cats can also be taurine deficient. Lack of taurine can lead to heart problems in cats, too. Here are some natural sources of taurine for cats. 

Many grain-free cat foods also have high amounts of legumes, which cats are not adapted to digesting. Consuming legumes can lead to digestive issues in cats.

Change Your Pet's Diet

It’s important to switch your pet to a new diet every nine months to a year, to make sure she is getting all of the nutrition she needs. If you keep her on the same diet for longer or even her whole life, she could develop deficiencies in certain nutrients. Try out different pet food companies, and ask your veterinarian for her recommendations.

Ask Your Vet for Advice

There is a lot of information out there regarding what pets need to eat. To make sure you are giving your pet the best diet possible, spend some time researching on your own. The best place to get advice about diets for your pets is from your pet’s veterinarian, and be open to changing things up.

Learn more about feline diets by clicking below!

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Learn more about canine diets by clicking below!

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