Pet Food Basics

If you're like most pet owners, you are probably confused about pet foods.

You're worried that you've been giving Fido cat food you buy for Fluffy is worth the price - or even healthy.

The national brand you've been using for years has just introduced a new line of 'all-natural premium' dog food. But, if it's so much better, what's wrong with your regular chow, and why is it still on the market?

While we're at it, what does 'all-natural' mean anyway? Why do the 'healthy' brands always cost 5 times more than the market-leading chows? And what does it all matter - your dog will probably eat anything anyways!

Let's face it. When it comes to dog food and cat food, it's hard to know how to find good value, make healthy choices, and separate the facts from all the hype. So here's a few pointers to make your shopping easier, and less stressful:

The most important consideration in deciding what to feed your pet is whether the food meets his or her nutritional requirements.

Once you've established that, you want it to taste good (to your pet, of course), and you want it to be easily digestible, which will depend on your pet's particular system.

Cats and dogs have very different nutritional requirements and digestive systems. Cats need cat food, and dogs need dog food.

Having said that, there is some general information about the pet food industry, product labeling and pet food ingredients that will help you when choosing pet supplies.

Most experts agree that most pet food on the market will meet standard nutritional requirements for:

  • water
  • protein
  • fats
  • carbohydrates
  • vitamins and minerals

But do all pet foods contain these basic ingredients in the proper proportions for your pet's optimal health? And how do you figure that out? By understanding the needs of your pet (which depend to a large extent on their life stage), and understanding what you're reading on the labels of the dog food or cat food you're considering.

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