Deciding what to feed your pet can be overwhelming. With the slew of dog and cat foods on the market, how do you make the best choice? Your veterinarian should always be your first resource in this important decision, but answers to some commonly asked questions may help guide you along the way.

What basic nutrients does my pet need?

All living beings, including our pets, have essential nutritional needs, including:

  • Water The majority of an adult pet’s body is composed of water, so your pet must always have a constant source of fresh water. 
  • Protein Necessary for cell growth and muscle repair, protein is a key nutrient, especially for cats, who are natural carnivores. 
  • Fat Fat, which gets a bad rap, is a fundamental part of vitamin absorption, healthy skin, and insulation, and it makes food taste good.
  • Carbohydrates These are quick sources of energy necessary for your pet’s gut health and reproduction. 
  • Vitamins and minerals The body cannot synthesize these important nutrients, so they must be provided in the diet, but a portion of balanced commercial pet food should provide all the vitamins and minerals your pet needs. 

How many calories should my pet eat per day?

Calorie needs vary depending on your pet’s species, reproductive status, and activity level. Additionally, growing pets have different caloric needs than overweight pets. Our team can recommend a specific calorie count for your pet’s individual needs, but the following can be used as a general guideline:

  • A 10-pound sedentary adult cat needs about 200 calories per day
  • A 50-pound mildly active adult dog needs about 1,000 calories per day

Keep in mind that all treats, chews, and other foods contain calories, which add up quickly. Remember to include these items in your pet’s daily calorie count. Visit here for more information on calories in pets. 

Should I feed my pet a grain-free diet?

The grain-free food trend has resulted in numerous new, exotic pet foods that assure all-natural and wholesome ingredients. Resisting the colorful bags and promises of these so-called boutique foods can be difficult, but an alarming new study indicates that these foods could actually harm your pet. The FDA issued a warning earlier this year noting a relationship between grain-free dog foods and an increased incidence of canine dilated cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease. 

Can I cook for my pet?

The short answer is “Yes,” under the guidance of a veterinary nutritionist. Occasionally, our veterinarian may recommend a bland diet of boiled white rice and protein to calm a troubled tummy, but this is not meant to replace your pet’s meals long-term. If home-cooking is on your agenda, ask us for a referral to a board-certified veterinary nutritionist or visit balanceit.com to work with one online.  

Does my cat have special nutritional needs?

Yes. Cats, who are descendants of carnivores, require a specific amino acid known as taurine. This building block of protein helps our feline friends with vision and heart health, but is only found in animal-based proteins. Therefore, don’t be duped into thinking a vegetarian diet is appropriate for your cat. 

Do I need to give my pet any supplements?

Despite the numerous over-the-counter supplements available to pets, most are unnecessary. The majority of reputable commercial pet foods are completely balanced to provide your healthy pet with the nutrients he needs. However, some pets have unique nutritional needs due to different health problems. For example, pets with skin allergies, arthritis, or cognitive dysfunction may benefit from an essential fatty acid supplement, whereas potassium supplementation may benefit certain cats with chronic kidney disease. Adding supplements to your pet’s diet without our veterinarian’s guidance is discouraged, as many can cause more harm than good. 

If you have unanswered questions about pet nutrition, don’t hesitate to contact us. Let our team be your first step in choosing the right food for your pet.