How to Keep Your Pet in Good Health
An important part of family life is keeping everybody healthy – and the food we eat is a big part of that. Today’s definition of family has expanded to include our beloved pets. In addition to being a trusted companion, having a dog or cat is a great way to teach children about responsibility and empathy.
As we learn about ingredients such as GMOs, artificial colours and added growth hormones, we know it’s important to consider options. When determining a healthy diet and lifestyle for our furry companions, here are some things you can consider:
The Quality of Ingredients in Pet Food Matters
When selecting a pet food, it’s best to look on the food label for whole food ingredients, like fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and grains. These provide the essential nutrients your dog or cat requires. These ingredients also contain other important elements like antioxidants and plant-based nutrients.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also important, especially to promote joint health and reduce inflammation. Some examples of ingredients that contain omega 3 fatty acids are salmon oil, flax oil, and canola oil.
Make Smart Protein Choices
If your pet doesn’t have food sensitivities, you have a lot of options.
When checking the label, look for a species-specific meat or meal as the first ingredient – something like de-boned turkey, salmon meal or de-boned salmon. The protein in these ingredients have a high biological value, which means the protein contains a high percentage of essential amino acids.
If your pet has food sensitivities, choosing their food may be a little trickier. In these cases, look for a protein source your pet has not eaten before such as duck or venison. Additionally, a diet that has a limited number of ingredients as well as all the nutritional requirements that your pet needs will lessen the chance of an adverse food reaction. In these situations, your vet is a great resource to work with to determine the best diet for your pet.
Active Pets are Healthy Pets
It’s important to keep your dog or cat at a healthy weight. This reduces their risk of kidney problems and type 2 diabetes – all of which are on the rise in pets.
Just like for the rest of our family, keeping a healthy weight involves looking at the calories. If your dog is overweight, you need to explore ways to cut down on calories. One option could be leaving their bowl down for limited periods of time, instead of leaving it out all day. If your dog still seems to be hungry, you can also find food options with fewer calories per serving. If you go this route, it’s important to look at the nutritional information to make sure you pick the right one.
In addition to managing weight, exercise promotes healthy muscle mass, which takes pressure off joints. This has been shown to reduce the likelihood your pet will develop joint problems as they age.
Your Healthy Lifestyle Choices Can Make a Difference
We live in a world where we are surrounded by choice in terms of lifestyle and diet – our pets are deeply impacted by these choices too. The quality of food and an active lifestyle will benefit your family – even the four-legged furry member. Now more than ever, doing research and being informed about ingredients in their food and their nutritional requirements, as well as maintaining your pet’s healthy weight are important to making the right choices.
This article has been brought to you by Dr. Jennifer Adolphe. Dr. Jennifer Adolphe graduated with her PhD in companion animal nutrition from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She has a Master of Science degree in human nutrition and is a registered dietitian. She is currently the Senior Nutritionist at Petcurean Pet Nutrition, a Canadian, family-owned company committed to offering superior quality pet foods.