Mace Dekker, DVM
Submitted to The Union

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April 18, 2013
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Vet tips: Food for a healthy pet

What type of food is healthiest for my dog?

As with people, there’s not a clear answer as to what is the healthiest food.

There are a lot of different commercial brands of food available, and a lot of them are just fine.

However, some may be healthy at one point and then change their formulation.

‘New and improved’ does not always mean better. Also, some pets may be sensitive to certain ingredients.

The things that I look for in a commercial dog food are:

— What do I know about the company (how reputable is it, what is the quality control)?

- What ingredients are in the diet?

- Where do the ingredients come from?

How much should I feed my pet?

Pet foods are geared towards being tasty (otherwise you wouldn’t get more) and that may not translate into healthy.

Just like a burger tastes great to us, but doesn’t do wonders for your cholesterol levels.

We tend to feed our pets by the cupful, not taking into account that two different brands may have very different calorie contents.

Dog food is sold by the pound, so the cheaper brands may not actually be less expensive relative to the amount of calories you buy.

Also a year-old active puppy will need more calories than a 12-year-old Lab that sleeps most of the day.

Nutrition is an important subject. Call your veterinarian if you have specific questions about diet.

The answer will depend a lot on the pet and their individual condition and stage in life.

What type of food is healthiest for my cat?

The recommendation for cat food has changed over the last several years.

Where we used to recommend dry food, we now understand that it is better for your cat to be on higher protein (wet) food only.

Consider that a cat is a true carnivore, unlike a dog (or us).

Their need for protein is much higher — something that is not available in most dry cat food.

And their ‘natural’ diet is fairly moist and high in protein (mice and birds, for example).

Protein also increases their sense of ‘being full’ or satiety.

Carbohydrates, on the other hand, is addictive to some cats, leading them to eat ‘just to eat’ rather than to feed themselves.

Think about how you feel an hour after that candy bar. And overweight can lead to arthritis, diabetes and other weight-related illnesses.

Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital’s Mace Dekker, DVM. will answer questions regarding pets each month in the Vet Tips. Have a question? Submit it to pets@theunion.com, attention Dr. Dekker.


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The Union Updated Jul 19, 2013 02:36PM Published Apr 18, 2013 10:54PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.