Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Pets

How to make the best choices in the pet food aisle

There are different choices of food at the pet store, and short of sampling them yourself, you're going to have to rely on your pet's feedback to learn whether or not the food is appealing. But because pets can't fill out a review, we grilled veterinarians to learn what you should be looking at when shopping for cat and dog food.

Don't assume that your pet is sick. "The average dog is a happy, healthy dog," said Donna Solomon, a vet with the Animal Medical Center of Chicago. Too many pet store foods carry a notion that the dog is ill, and owners mistakenly think they should be buying food catered toward their sick dog. "They are creating a little bit of havoc in the world," she said, recommending that unless a vet says otherwise, you stick with food for a normal dog or cat diet.

Price doesn't matter. "Observe how your pet does on a particular diet," said Kurt Gallagher, director of communications and export development for the Pet Food Institute in Washington. "Some might do well on an economy brand, but some might do well on midrange, and some might do well on a specific product."

Be careful with homemade food and treats. Be sure to check out the safety of the ingredients before feeding it to your pet.

Stay away from food with too many ingredients. The food should have a good protein source and a few ingredients — and that's it, Solomon said. It should be simple.

Protein content. For cats, the protein content should be 40 to 50 percent, Solomon said. "The first word should be protein," she said. For dogs, the protein content should be in the mid 30s, so the first word of the dog food could be a carbohydrate or a grain, but the second word should be a protein.

Check the label. "The first, but certainly not the only, thing pet owners should be looking for on a bag or can of pet food is an AAFCO statement," said Dan Sanchez, veterinarian and co-owner of the South Loop Animal Hospital. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) is the organization that defines ingredients and official nutritional terms and determines the protocols by which pet foods are tested.

Allergies. The No. 1 allergy in dogs is beef, followed by milk and then soy, so if you're worried about allergies, you may want to look for foods that avoid those, said Kenneth Snyder, veterinarian with the Visiting Vet in Miami.

Premium dog food. These have higher caloric density than nonpremium dog food, and the higher the caloric density, the less the dog has to eat to maintain metabolic function, Snyder said. "If you eat less, you poop less," he said. "It's a good thing if you're someone who doesn't like poop. That's why they were made."

Changing food. If you want to change your pet's food, don't do it abruptly, Snyder said. Put the new food next to the old food and let the animal get used to it slowly, buying a small quantity to make sure it passes the test.

Comments
Top places to bring your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Top places to bring your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Dogs are more welcome in public than ever these days. Bars and restaurants are making themselves more pet-friendly, and you can find weekly "yappy hours" happening at spots all over Tampa Bay. Add to that a healthy number of dog-approved events and ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hernando Pet of the Week for April 27

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 27

Humane Society of the Nature CoastXena is a sweet 6-year-old calitabby (calico and tabby mix). She has been spayed, microchipped and is current on her vaccines. Inquiries about adopting April or other dogs and cats can be made at the Humane Society o...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Find A Friend: Levi, the Dog

Find A Friend: Levi, the Dog

If big hearts score points, then you could say that Levi’s got game. But only in the sweetest, least competitive and non-confrontational way possible. Sports might teach life lessons to humans, but Levi plays ball to forget the horrors of a not too-d...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Construction begins on Saladino Dog Park in Brandon next week

Construction begins on Saladino Dog Park in Brandon next week

BRANDON — Hillsborough County will be starting construction next week on new amenities to Bertha and Tony Saladino Park, including a dog park.The county will start construction on a dog park, walking trail and expanded parking lot on Wednesday.The pa...
Published: 04/13/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for April 20

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 20

Courtesy of Hernando County Animal ServicesLouise is a 3-year-old black female terrier mix. She came into the shelter as a stray. Louise loves people and playing outside. She is a selective dog, so a "meet and greet" will be required, and she needs t...
Published: 04/12/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Find A Friend: Gracie, the cat

Find A Friend: Gracie, the cat

Never judge a book by its cover, because Gracie is no ordinary pussycat. She’s a kitty with charisma, an atypical tigress, a pal of a pet. She’s chatty and playful and likes to roll around with her belly up in the air just to gain attention. She’s re...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for April 13

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 13

Humane Society of the Nature CoastDakota is a gorgeous 5-year-old hound. She participates in the Tails 2 Trails walking group at 9 a.m. every Sunday on the Suncoast Trail. Inquiries about adopting Dakota or other dogs and cats can be made at the Huma...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/11/18
Find A Friend: Bunny, the Boxer mix

Find A Friend: Bunny, the Boxer mix

Wait...what? She missed the deadline for the hippity-hop holiday edition of the paper? Ah well, Bunny has learned to take disappointment in stride. After all, she almost had a real home until the landlord said he didn’t want "her kind." But spring br...
Published: 04/06/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 6

Hernando County Animal ServicesLeroy is a handsome white and black, 2-year-old rat terrier mix. He is enrolled in the Heal to Heal program at the Hernando County Women’s Correctional Facility, where he works with the trustees and trainer John Gore fr...
Updated one month ago
For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

JACKSONVILLE BEACH — Adam Fuller credits a simple, one-word command — and a black Lab mix named J.D. — for helping to save his life. "Cover," he tells J.D., who is sitting to his left in a grassy field next to a park playground. The dog calmly walks ...
Updated one month ago