According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $21 billion on pet food in 2013. The organization anticipates more than $22 billion will be spent on pet food this year!
Pet food companies invest plenty in marketing products to American pet owners, and with good reason–68 percent of U.S. households include pets, which means about 82.5 million families are interested in giving their animal friends the very best.
LazyPaw Animal Hospitals is interested in doing the most we can for every patient, which means we’re more focused on the actual ingredients in dog food than the adorable advertisements and flashy packaging. (Although even we must admit that this “Dear Kitten” video jangles both our giggle boxes and our heartstrings.)
Don’t be fooled by price tags.
The most expensive food is not always the right one. Just as an apple is both healthier and cheaper than a bar of designer chocolate, the most nutritious dog food may not always cost the most. Cost usually breaks down by the quality of protein used in food, so cheaper foods may be using cheaper ingredients. This isn’t necessarily bad, but do your homework before investing in a fancy bag of kibble. Research reviews online and talk to your local pet clinic or animal hospital about what’s perfect for your pet.
Don’t be distracted by marketing jargon.
Words such as natural, fresh, holistic, and even organic sound snazzy, but they may not mean much. What counts most isn’t what the front of the bag or the advertisement promises, it’s what the ingredients list does. “Holistic” may sound like something you’d want to eat, but it may just equal a lot of fluff.
Know how to read the ingredients list.
Ingredients are listed by weight, so protein with lots of moisture (beef, chicken, poultry, fish) will likely be listed first. In dry food, nutritious ingredients may be listed lower down because moisture has been removed. Look for food with meat listed first, not filler grains. Grains including rolled oats, quinoa, millet, brown rice, and barley should also be whole to supply more fiber and minerals.
The proof is in the poo-ding.
Once you’ve chosen a food and given your dog some time to adjust to the new diet, pay attention to their number twos. Most dogs should go about twice a day, so if your dog begins going more frequently, the food likely isn’t as nutritionally efficient because they are producing more waste. If the consistency gets gross, that’s also not the best sign of a good food match.
It’s okay to buy pet food–you don’t have to make it yourself
We admire the effort some pet parents pour into devoting time and energy to cooking their dog’s food fresh every day, which some owners have begun to do as a habit. Taking boiled chicken and rice to a whole new level, there are now even cookbooks meant for people and pets to share such as “Dog-Gone Good Cuisine: More Healthy, Fast, and Easy Recipes for You and Your Pooch” by chef and nutritionist Gayle Pruitt. Though the extra work of cooking your pet’s food is wonderful, LazyPaw Animal Hospitals still believes a quality dog food is just fine.