Pets must eat pet food.
Of course, that starts with mealtime. Feeding your dog or cat the best pet food you can afford will help them to be healthier and live longer. While there seems to be less and less value in what we purchase these days, pet food is one thing for which you truly get what you pay for.
Regular readers know that I am a fan of Hill’s Science Diets and Hill’s Prescription Diets. The premium lines of pet food provide superior nutrition by their quality of ingredients. It costs more to buy the best building blocks, so you pay more for these foods, but, again, you get what you pay for.
At the other end of the spectrum are the “generic pet food” or store-brand pet foods. These contain the poorest ingredients and the lowest quality and quantity of nutrition. They are cheap, but suitable only for catfish chum when you’re fishing for those tasty bottom feeders.
Not only should you feed the best pet food, it is crucial to avoid people food. Generations ago, leftovers were the only food pets got. As better pet diets became available, the new foods became a mainstream part of animals’ intake, but many owners thought “supplementation” was needed with meat, gravy, potatoes, whatever was left over after the family ate.
However, adding ingredients to a pet’s diet has the same effect as subtracting ingredients: it imbalances the diet.
Billions of dollars have been invested in making the best nutrition dogs and cats can eat. With one stroke of the spoon we can cancel out that investment by adding people food.
“But, doctor, he eats everything I eat, and I eat a balanced diet!” you might say.
There are problems with that belief:
- you are not a dog or cat, and your pet needs a diet specialized for him. Not only are dogs’ and cats’ nutritional needs different from yours, cats require different nutrition from dogs, and vice-versa.
- your pet probably doesn’t eat everything you eat. He may reject oranges, cauliflower, broccoli, or other items. By missing out on certain foods, he also misses out of certain nutrients.
- micronutrients are ingredients in diets which are present in extremely small amounts. Copper, certain vitamins, magnesium, these are all things your pet cannot live without, and cannot obtain adequately if his diet is imbalanced. Conversely, too much of micronutrients results in toxicity.
Some people-food-feeding is unintentional. At least on your part. Children often enjoy feeding pets from the table, but sometimes they just drop or spill food because they don’t have good control of their utensils. For that reason, pets must be in another room when children are eating.
Children may be the only source of people food pets eat. Our dogs, Peyton and Pearl, never knew what people food was until we had grandchildren. While they resented the intrusion into their normally-quiet home, they sure appreciated the groceries that fell to the floor! They were already spoiled by the time we figured out to separate them at mealtimes.
See you Monday, Dr. Randolph.