Undeniably one of the most important decisions pet owners must make is what to feed their new pet. This decision cannot be taken lightly, as there are many factors involved, such as breed, size, health, budget, and more! Here is a list of what pet owners value when choosing the ideal pet food for their companion.
Nutritional Content and Primary Ingredients
Do you honestly read the ingredients in your pet food? Or, should this be asked: do you honestly understand what the ingredients are? You may not be able to pronounce some of them, but knowing what they are and how they come to be in your pet’s food is worth your while. For many pet owners, this is something they feel is vital when it comes to choosing pet food. The nutritional content can vary for all pet foods just as our own diets can vary for us. You can choose to eat processed foods, fast food, and sweets all day or you can choose to eat healthy, natural foods. Obviously, you will feel better, both in the short term and long term, if you eat healthy, natural foods. This rings true with your pet.
Nowadays, more and more pet owners are doing the research and deciding for themselves if their pet food meets their standards. They are also checking into what types of foods and main ingredients are ideal for their particular breed.
A Veterinarian’s Advice
One person that knows what is good for your pet is your veterinarian. A veterinarian has the knowledge in the sciences to have an expert understanding of pet food nutrition and the combination of ingredients in foods. Some veterinarians will give you their opinion on what to feed your pet, and others steer clear of that. Instead, the others may give you advice on which “main” ingredients to look for in the food. The advice they give you, in addition to you own research, can be the win-win in making that crucial decision on what to feed your pet.
Place of Manufacture
For many, this is a major clue in cracking the case on what to put in your pets dish throughout the day. If you want food that comes from your country and not overseas, don’t simply read the label. Even some of the most popular brands that claim they are made in the US does not mean that all of the ingredients came from the US. Many of the pet food ingredients are outsourced from overseas, such as China, and even exclusive pet food brands are involved in this.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has the responsibility to regulate ingredients in pet food. When it comes to the authority or regulation of the ingredients and the accompanying food labels, these specific guidelines come from petfood.aafco.org: “all or virtually all means” that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content. So just putting together ingredients inside the US is not enough. Additionally, just getting ingredients from a broker within the US is not enough. If ingredients are imported, then it is very difficult to justify the use of the phrase “Made in the USA.” –petfood.aafco.org
These regulations should give pet owners, such as yourself, peace of mind, but are they really enforced? Many pet professionals and owners are skeptical, as many of the vitamins and minerals have been found to come from overseas. If you have some time on your hands, you can call the company, do research on the ingredients, or read credible websites that give information. This is why some people choose to not risk anything and opt to make their own pet food, but this even takes a lot of research and time.
The Name and Reputation of the Brand
This is probably one of the more popular, or traditional choices, for pet owners in finding the perfect food. Word of mouth. It is an incredible thing, isn’t it? People talk, and people listen. This probably has a more profound effect on what people choose that any million-dollar commercial on Prime Time television. When finding the best food for their pets, caring owners ask around. It is always nice to get good news about a particular pet food (when you are on the fence between certain brands) from multiple sources that fed their pets for their entire (and hopefully long) lifespan.
Another thing you can do to help you with this decision is to join a forum on social media of your specific breed of animal and read what everyone has to say. The great thing about joining an online group is you can ask many questions, and you will get a nice variety of answers to help you draw your own conclusion.
For pet food owners with animals that have food allergies or some sort of medical condition, the choice may be a little easier. Pharmaceutical food is made for many different types of conditions, and these can be purchased from a veterinarian’s office. Yes, many “special diet” foods are more costly, but knowing that you are doing the right thing and feeding your animal what his body needs (and keeping out the ingredients he doesn’t need) gives you peace of mind.
If your animal has health conditions, and not just from aging, there are several different foods to choose from which are specifically tailored to his diet, but not too many. Actually, it isn’t as complicated of a choice to make when you know what the animal must have to continue on a positive life path.
Who wants to pay for food, only to have the animal scoff at the dish? Many individuals say, “Well, if they are hungry, they will eat it!” Right, but when? It is difficult to watch an animal not eat for more than a day knowing they do not like the taste. Many pet lovers just give in and donate the purchased food to their local Humane Society, hoping someone can use it!
Yes, taste is a significant game-changer with pet food. So, even if you do all of the research on the absolute best food for your pet, purchase it, and then dish out a serving to your companion, guess what? He just may not like it. This is where you need a Plan B. Hopefully you had a “top 5” list that you can just move on down, and hopefully, your pet will like one of them!
Many pet owners are on a budget, but still want to give their pet the best. This can be difficult because you know that the high-quality food is not going to be as inexpensive as the store or generic brand. It’s just not. Some people, though, work around this and find ways to save money on pet food in other ways besides clipping coupons.
If you are looking for value, which many people are, then weigh your options. You can make your own pet food (which is time-consuming and requires a lot of research), or go searching for a decent brand of food and compare prices. Also, don’t forget to look at feed stores! Sometimes farm stores or feed stores have better prices (and even better quality food!) then the specific pet store chains.
Responsible pet owners, like yourself, want to give their pet the very best in care. Everyone is different, and everyone has varying reasons for choosing the food they choose for their loved one. There is not one single “perfect or right” reason, but the fact that you are caring for your animal and thinking about the best food for their health is the perfectly right thing to do!