How to choose superior nutrition for your pet!
Superior nutrition is as critical for pets as it is for people. It is important that your pet receives the benefit of a scientifically based diet for optimal health. With so many different options available, choosing the right food for your dog or cat can be a challenge.
A nutritional expert was recently quoted as saying, "there are three things that can influence how long your pet will live: heredity, environment and nutrition. The one that owners can influence most is what they choose to feed their pet." Your veterinary team is the best source for accurate information about nutrition for your pet. We have your pet's medical history and can work with you in choosing the appropriate diet, the amounts to feed and can monitor your pet's response to their new diet.
Our veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians and support staff are continuously updating their knowledge of diets and nutrition. The diets we recommend are produced in processing facilities that have advanced safety standards and have had feeding trials performed. Feeding trials are the gold standard to determine how a pet will perform when fed a specific food.
Do not be misled by marketing tools that have no science or testing behind them. Recently there has been an influx of "natural", "organic" or "holistic" dog and cat foods to choose from. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the lack of science behind these claims.
Organic - There is a myth that the terms natural and organic are interchangeable. This is not true. True organic foods must comply with Agri-Food Canada's very strict regulations. This is an expensive process and there are few if any truly organic pet foods available.
Natural - The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulates pet food in the USA, but unfortunately in Canada this is only used as a guideline not a requirement. According to AAFCO the term "natural" requires that a pet food consist only of ingredients without chemical alterations.
Holistic - there is no legal definition of this term in pet foods. Any manufacturer can make claims of "holistic" in their literature (including web sites) regardless of diet content.
Human Grade - claims that a product contains ingredients that are human-grade quality. It can be a misleading term since there is no policing of pet food content to ensure this is in fact so.
Things to consider when choosing a new diet:
Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Generally meats are listed first as they contain a lot of water and therefore weigh more. The ingredient list is not nearly as important as the quality and nutritional value of each individual ingredient.
Guaranteed Analysis - this is the list of ingredients on the side of the bag of food provided as a guide to consumers. It is virtually impossible to compare foods by using the guaranteed analysis. It is the nutritional value of each ingredient blended together that delivers a product specific for a pet's age or condition. You could do a guaranteed analysis on an old leather boot that would compare to the guaranteed analysis of some pet foods. Obviously an old leather boot is not a digestible item, but unfortunately digestibility is not listed on the label.
"All" Life Stage diets - although they sound convenient, most of these diets are formulated for puppies since they have the highest nutritional requirements. However a diet like this should not be used for mature or senior dogs, as they can be dangerously high in protein if an older dog is starting to have kidney trouble, and are also not properly balanced in calories and minerals.
By Products - Foods that list by-products are not necessarily inferior products. By-products are commonly used in both human and pet foods and can include nutrient rich organ meats, ground bones, skin and some meat. It does not include beaks, feet and feathers as some people are led to believe. By-products are simply ingredients produced in the making of something else (i.e. when Vitamin E is extracted from soybeans the soybean meal that is left over is a highly nutritious by-product.)
Formulated vs. Feeding Trials - if a pet food label states that the food is "formulated" for a specific life stage it indicates that it is unlikely to have had a feeding trial done. Feeding trials are the Gold Standard for determining nutritional adequacy; therefore we sell only foods that have had feeding trials done i.e. veterinary diets made by Medi-Cal and Hills.
The Corn Myth and Grain Free Diets - Recently foods with corn as a carbohydrate ingredient have been getting negative reviews. It is important to know that corn, as it is provided in high quality foods such as the veterinary Medi-Cal diet is one of the best sources of grain protein, omega fatty acids and antioxidants. Corn causes no more allergies in pets than other grains. Grains can be an excellent source of nutrition for omnivores like dogs. Grain free diets that are marketed now use potatoes as their source of carbohydrate, since carbohydrates are a necessary component of a well-balanced canine diet.
Safety - The veterinary diets that we recommend, Medi-Cal and Hills, have a very rigorous screening requirement to assure the safety and quality of their ingredients. Medi-Cal diets use a high tech spectrophotometer to test each ingredient before they are allowed to enter the plant. A recent study indicated that little has been done to improve the safety of many other pet foods on the Canadian market.
Raw Diets - there has been an abundance of unsubstantiated information regarding alternative foods available for pets on the Internet and other sources. However, pet owners should be aware of the facts if they are considering an alternative food for their pets:
there is no scientific data to support beliefs commonly held by raw food supporters (bones and raw food); that feeding raw is "better" for your pet.
some raw food recipes contain excessive levels of protein, calcium and phosphorus.
raw foods pose a potential hazard for food poisoning and bacterial (Salmonella) contamination for both humans and animals. Pets eating raw food can become carriers of these deadly bacteria and can accidentally transmit them to children, the elderly, or any person with a poor immune system, sometimes with very serious consequences.
in one study 90% of home made pet diets were found to be nutritionally unbalanced.
bones can cause intestinal blockage and fractured teeth.
a lot of people believe that Veterinary diets are more expensive than pet store foods. This is often not the case. Ask us about cost per day and feeding amounts. Many of our diets are comparable to and in some cases cheaper than pet store diets.
Prescription Diets - We may recommend a specific medical diet for your pet depending on their medical diagnosis (i.e. pancreatitis, lower urinary tract disease.) In these cases please strictly follow your veterinarians diet recommendations. Do not be tempted by pet store or grocery store brands that claim to do what a veterinary prescription diet can do. Since there is no policing of pet foods in Canada, often these diets have not had any feeding trials done to prove that they do what they claim.
Why are Medi-cal diets our number one recommendation?
We have made Medi-Cal diets our number one recommendation for a number of reasons.
All Medi-Cal diets have under-gone feeding trial
Ingredients are of excellent quality
Safety standards are unsurpassed
Most of their diets are manufactured at their plant in Guelph, Ontario and 60% of their ingredients are purchased from Canadian farms.
Several of our staff have visited the Medi-Cal plant to assure ourselves that Medi-Cal diets are produced with pristine quality control measures and with outstanding science based nutritional content.
We were very happy with the dedication the Medi-Cal diet team demonstrated in fulfilling our requirements and since this visit have used Medi-Cal as our trusted primary veterinary diet provider.
We believe that proper nutrition for your pet from their baby to their senior years is of vital importance. We know you want to provide superior nutrition for your pet, and encourage you to ask any of our team members if you have questions regarding diet.
Please let us help you keep your pet healthy and happy!