Tips of the Trade: Pet Food Secrets
Do not assume all dry food or canned food is the same, even if it is formulated for the same “lifestage.”
Ingredients, feeding instructions and caloric content (expressed as kilocalories per kilogram on pet food packages) vary by product. Read directions carefully and ask your veterinarian for advice.
Use your pet food’s feeding instructions as a guideline.
Your pet may require more or less of a particular food depending on its age, health, environment and activity level. Ask your veterinarian for help.
Morsels of News You Can Use
Diet Drugs: One Part of Obesity Program
Pet owners who are curious about Slentrol, a new diet drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are encouraged to ask veterinary professionals about all of the weight reduction options available to them. Slentrol (dirlopatide) is intended to help veterinarians and pet owners control morbid obesity in pets.
For example, it might be prescribed for a beagle that should weigh 40 pounds but tips the scales at 100 pounds. It is one tool that should be paired with calorie restriction, safe and regular exercise and behavior modification.
The drug is expected to reach veterinary shelves in the United States by June. It is intended to get pets over the hump of weight gain when “obesity has gotten control of the dog,” said Debra Zoran, DVM, PhD, who works at AAHA-accredited Texas A&M University.
Clinical research shows that the oil-based drug is safe for dogs for one year, but it can cause vomiting in the first few weeks. Veterinarians need to reassess pets regularly to adjust the dosage of the drug, Zoran said.
Dogs on steroids cannot take the drug, and it is not intended for cats or people, she added. Most doctors – especially veterinary nutritionists – emphasize that prevention of obesity – healthful diets and regular exercise – is always the best scenario.
Learn what a pet food name really means.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) dictates how meat, poultry and seafood can be used in pet food names. At least 95 percent of the food, excluding water for processing and seasonings, must be the named ingredient.
When foods have a combination of animal-origin ingredients in their names (example: Chicken ‘n Beef), the listed meat, poultry or fish ingredients must constitute 95 percent of the product.
Products with 25-95 percent of the listed animal-origin ingredients have to be qualified with words such as dinner, nuggets or formula.
Finally, if “with” precedes an ingredient (such as Chicken with Cheese for Dogs) at least three percent of that ingredient must be present in the food.
Take a few minutes to scan the ingredient list.
Ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight. And while the AAFCO requires manufacturers to list ingredients using “common and usual” names, the additives, preservatives, vitamins and minerals may be more difficult to discern.
Discuss “enhanced” food claims with your veterinarian.
Ask your veterinary professionals if your pet will benefit from food enhanced with Glucosomine, Chondroiton, Omega-3, Omega-6, or other nutrients. Laura Eirmann, DVM, says that “dogs and cats eating a good, complete and balanced commercial pet food do not need dietary supplements.”
This article originally appeared in PetsMatter Volume 2 Issue 1, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. Copyright © 2009 AAHA. Find out more.
Note: All content provided on HealthyPet.com, is meant for educational purposes only on health care and medical issues that may affect pets and should never be used to replace professional veterinary care from a licensed veterinarian. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of any veterinary medical health care advice, diagnosis or treatment.