On Saturday, I attended a pet nutrition talk sponsored by the Dane County Humane Society and presented by Michelle Longeran, pet nutrition specialist and owner of Tabby & Jack’s Pet Supplies and Grooming (locations in both Madison and Fitchburg).
While I do not consider myself a pet nutrition expert by any means, I was fairly surprised (and maybe a little skeptical) when Lonergan told the crowd that the majority of all dog foods sold at your standard grocery store are considered unhealthy.
The pet food manufacturing industry is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center of Veterinary Medicine, but according to Longeran, regulations are often poorly monitored and very lax. Instead, Longeran offered her own tips for giving your pet the best diet possible. Here are a few:
-To easily analyze the main ingredients of your pet’s food, first identify the fat and all other ingredients listed prior.
-Once you’ve looked at the main ingredients, determine which one is the most prevalent. If a fresh meat is given as a main ingredient, be sure that the following ingredient is a specific meat meal and not a grain. If a grain is listed after the fresh meat, the grain likely weighs more than the meat.
-Avoid corn, wheat and soy because these are considered the top three allergens for dogs and cats. With many dog foods, these ingredients are often listed first, which means they could be the most prevalent ingredient in the food.
-Do not look for supplements in your pet’s food to treat one specific issue. Instead, consider adding the supplement directly to the food yourself.
Kelp: natural anti-inflammatory
Salmon Oil: omega 3 & 6 for keeping the skin and coat healthy
Probiotic/Enzymes: helps break down the food, improves the immune system
For Longeran, the best diet to feed to your pet is a fresh diet made up of raw meat, bones and vegetables because it closely mimics what a dog or cat’s ancestors would have eaten in the wild.
If you do opt to feed your pet a raw diet, it’s important that the diet is balanced with other vitamins, minerals, calcium and amino acids. One way to do this could be a diet consisting of 1/2 raw ingredients and 1/2 kibble. Two kibbles that pass Longeran’s test are American Natural Premium and Canidae.
If you’re not completely sold on a raw diet or are thoroughly confused on the proper diet for your pet (like me), consult your veterinarian.
Keeping your pet happy and healthy is a full-time job.