How to Choose A Great Dog and Cat Food

by | Mar 18, 2015 | Blog

Dr. Kerri McMahon, veterinarian at Country Friends Vet Clinic, is passionate about pet nutrition and offers advice on choosing a quality food for your dog and/or cat.

With so many options for dog and cat food, how is a person to choose the right one?  There are aisles of choices!  They can’t all be good, can they?  Let’s talk about what to look for.

I like to keep things simple.  Complicated things are just too, well … complicated.  Foods for you pet should have a list of simple ingredients that are easy to pronounce – like beef, salmon, rice, or sweet potato, etc.  This ingredient list should be short, followed by a list of vitamins and supplements.  Supplement lists may include fish oil or Omega fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and occasionally herbs or probiotics.

Let’s look at this label from a Wellness brand dog food:

The ingredients … {{Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Barley, Ground Brown Rice, Tomato Pomace, Rye Flour, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Tomatoes, Rice Bran, Whitefish, Natural Chicken Flavor, Carrots, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Ground Flaxseed, Ground Millet,}}   Short list …. known ingredients…simple.

The vitamins and minerals …{{Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins [Beta-Carotene, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B-12 Supplement], Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite], Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (added to preserve freshness), Taurine,}}

The supplements …{{Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Chicory Root Extract, Garlic Powder, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Green Tea Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation products, Rosemary Extract.}}

Cat food should follow the same principles … short, simple ingredient list of known ingredients with some vitamins and maybe supplements.  Look at this label from a Wellness brand cat food:

The ingredients …{{Salmon, Eggs, Pea Protein, Oats, Pearled Barley, Vegetable Broth, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Whole Peas, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Flax Seed, Salmon Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Pea Fiber, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Green Beans, Carrots, Cranberries, Zucchini, Alfalfa, Inulin,}}    Short list … known ingredients … simple!The vitamins …{{Calcium Sulfate, DL-Methionine, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Vitamins (Folic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Choline Bitartrate, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Ascorbic Acid, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Cobalt Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite),}}

The supplements …{{Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium longum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product.}}

Important differences in cats and dogs regarding what they eat:

  • Dogs are omnivores.  They need meat as well as plants – including fruits, vegetables, and grains).  Yes, dogs have allergies to some meats and grains, but the majority of dogs do not have food allergies.
  • Cats are strict carnivores!  They need only meat and thrive on a high protein, meat diet.  No plants or grains needed.  The cat’s food ingredient list should reflect this need.

OK.  What should be avoided if possible?  Any animal by-products, any artificial color, any artificial preservative, chemicals (such as BHA, BHT, MSG, sodium nitrate, propyl gallate, etc.), or fillers (such as corn syrup, blood meal, etc).

Whew!  Dr. Kerri McMahon gave us a really quick answer to a tough question for most pet owners.  As always, never hesitate to call us or come by to discuss how to select the perfect diet for your pampered pet!  Ask us about our new, four-star, non-prescription diet, iVet, for starters!  Happy eating!