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Featured Article: Feeding Your Pet

Feeding your pet should be one of the easiest things you do. However, with all the hype and advertising that exists in the media, it has become one of the most confusing areas for pet owners. Pet food has become a multi-billion dollar industry and each company is very interested in convincing you that their line of food is better than the others. Do they have your best interests at heart? Youíll have to make that decision for yourself.

Here are some tips that may help:

Stick with the major brands of food and avoid "generic" diets. The major brands are tried and true and they cross state lines during transport, which means they fall under stricter governmental controls. Diets that are made, packaged and sold exclusively within your city or state are not as rigorously controlled. And even some of the generic brands that are made by large super store chains cannot compete with the quality and research that is put into the diets that are made by those companies that only make pet foods. So if youíve never heard of a brand before, be sure you check with someone (hopefully, your veterinarian) before you purchase.

 

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The commercially produced brands of food are complete. You do not need to add any supplements to these diets. Water is the only thing they are missing. Before adding anything else (vitamins, minerals, milk or other liquids, etc.), please consult with your veterinarian. Some of these supplements can actually cause more harm than good.

The only difference between the dry and canned versions of food is generally the water content. It is OK to feed canned foods if you want to deal with the added mess and work. Dry food is, however, very good for the teeth. If you do not feed dry food at all, and even if you do, be sure to give your pet things to chew on and consider brushing their teeth. This not only saves them from having dental problems, it will save them from having anesthesia to clean their teeth and save you veterinary bills.

As a general statement, puppies and kittens should be fed puppy and kitten food until approximately six months of age. At that time they should be slowly weaned onto adult foods. This will vary from breed to breed, so please check with your breeder or veterinarian for your specific pet. Additionally, if you have a large breed dog (Great Dane, Golden Retriever, Burnese Mountain Dog, etc.), be sure to also check with your veterinarian about specific feeding instructions. It is extremely important to not overfeed the large breeds early in life.

Beyond all the hype of premium brands versus regular brands, pet store vs. supermarket brands, dry vs. canned, etc., I have found one thing to be true: the more money you spend on the foods, the less poops you have to pick up! The premium brands are more concentrated and digestible, therefore there is less fecal material produced, thus less poop-patrol.

As your pet gets older, it is very important to discuss diet with your veterinarian. There are terrific diets on the market to help prolong the lives of our pets as they develop certain problems (obesity, kidney disease, liver problems, allergies, etc.). They are more expensive, but well worth it. This is one area where the truth is as good as the hype. Dietary changes can make a significant difference in the older pets.

In summary, feeding your pet should not be hard. Pick a name brand that you are familiar with, feed puppy and kitten food to the young ones, adult foods to those generally over 6 months of age, check with your veterinarian on what to feed when they get past middle aged, and donít get caught up in all the other advertising hype. Most of the diets out there are fine and our pets seem to thrive well on nearly all of them. Speak to your veterinarian or email me with specific questions.

As always, I'm happy to help your pets...and their people, too.

Dr. Larry

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