Common Food Questions

By Tristan Clark, DVM

A common question clients ask is “What food is the best to provide for my pet?” Despite what you may hear from advertising, there is no single “best” diet for all pets. What may be best for one animal may not be the right choice for another. Diets often need to be individualized. Keep in mind that in general, the larger the company behind the diet, the more likely that they’ll hire veterinary nutritionists and food scientists to guide their diet creation research.

How about grains? Are grains bad for dogs and cats? Dogs and cats can most definitely digest and gain nutrients from whole grains, which often contain valuable proteins, minerals, fiber and vitamins. Active allergies to grains are seldom seen in many of our pet species. Beware of manufacturing claims that are made to differentiate themselves from other brands. Often, these claims state they’re better since the whole grains have been swapped with other processed starches, which may actually provide less nutrition while being more expensive.

Are by-products undesirable or even dangerous for my pet? The short answer is no, however, like everything else, their quality will vary by how well the quality control is handled by the manufacture. By-products are mostly organs and intestines. While these sources of meat are not considered classically yummy by our dining standards, they are extremely nutritious and some are even considered culinary delicacies (such as foie-gras or pâté).

How do home-cooked diets compare to commercial ones? That greatly depends on the ingredients of the compared diets. In the US, major commercial pet diets have been improved and updated to modern standards. Because of this, certain nutritional deficiency diseases are much rarer today than in the past. One such example would be taurine deficiency in cats, who require this amino acid in their diet since they cannot make it themselves. Without input from a veterinary nutritionist home-made diets run a higher risk of being unbalanced and not containing essential nutrients.

If you have further questions or concerns about your pet’s diet, please come and visit us at Copper Hill Animal Clinic, where we will be happy to help you choose the appropriate food for your loved one.