Chew on This!
In addition to regular exercise, healthy eating is so important for your pet’s overall health! This week we will dive into choosing a healthy diet and picking a good treat (or making them).
Choosing A Healthy Diet
One of the most common questions we get is, “What is the best diet to feed my pet?”. The complicated answer to this question is: there is no one best diet. What may work for one pet may not work for the next. However, while there is not a specific best diet, there are ways to identify good quality diets!
It is important to evaluate a company and diet for the following factors:
- Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Statement: AAFCO is a group made up of a variety of veterinary professionals and officials that develop standards for food development to make sure the diet meets the specific nutrition requirements for pets.
- Research: Quality diets have rigorous testing behind them to make sure they include all of the necessary nutrients your pet needs.
- Employs a board-certified veterinary nutritionist: Board-certified veterinary nutritionists have gone through several additional years of research and study to become experts in pet nutrition. Companies that employ nutritionists are interested in developing good quality diets.
For more information on picking a diet, check out this information from Tufts University Clinical Nutrition Service: Frequently Asked Questions about General Pet Nutrition – Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School (tufts.edu).
If you are interested in creating a home cooked diet for your pet, we recommend consulting a board-certified veterinary nutritionist (visit www.acvn.com for a complete list of veterinarians) or visiting www.balanceit.com to receive assistance in creating a complete and balanced diet.
Too Much of a Good Thing
So you’ve picked out a good diet, great job! The next step is knowing how much to feed of that diet.
To figure out how many calories your pet should receive in a day, use the following calculation: 70 x (body weight in kg)^0.75.
To get your pet’s weight in kg, multiply their weight (in pounds) by 0.454.
For example: Montana (pictured below) weighs 50.8 lbs. Her weight (in kg) is 50.8 x 0.454 = 23 kg. So Montana should receive 70 x (23)^0.75 = 735 calories a day.
Treats are a great tool for training and rewarding pets. However, it is easy to become a little too free with offering treats. As a rule of thumb, treats should not make up more than 10% of your pet’s diet.
Using Montana’s example above, no more than 74 calories (735 x 0.10) of her daily need should come from treats.
If your pet needs to lose or gain weight, the calorie calculation will be different. Talk to your veterinarian about a plan specific to your pet in these cases.
Are you guilty of feeding table scraps to your pet? Is it hard to resist those adorable eyes? While we often associate giving food with love, not all food is made equal! A lot of human food is not healthy and even possibly dangerous for pets! Here is a guide for some healthy (and safe) human food options:
- Vegetables: carrots, green beans, broccoli, celery, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, pumpkin
- Fruit*: apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, watermelon
- Meat: boiled chicken or turkey breast (avoid fatty meats like pork products)
- Other: popcorn (air-popped, unsalted, unbuttered), eggs (plain)
- Vegetables: spinach, pumpkin, peas
- Fruit*: cantaloupe, bananas, apples, blueberries
- Meat: salmon, tuna, chicken or turkey breast (avoid fatty meats like pork products)
- Other: eggs (plain)
*Feed fruit in small amounts as it can contain higher amounts of sugar.
For treat options for your exotic pets, please speak to your veterinarian directly for species-specific safe food.
Homemade Treat Recipe Options
If you feel like making something special for your pet, try one of these homemade treat recipes! Use precaution if your pet has any allergies or specific dietary needs, and always ask your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
OAT AND APPLE PRETZEL DOG TREATS
HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER DOG TREATS RECIPE
HOMEMADE SALMON CAT TREATS
HOMEMADE CAT FOOD CAT TREATS
If your pet has allergies, talk to your veterinarian about treats safe for your pet’s specific needs.