Food for Dogs and Cats

Tuesday, May 2, 2017  | The Pet Whisperer
Food for Dogs and Cats

Hi Coasties.

The whole topic of food  is a complex one that I could write for days on ... But that is not practical and will only serve to confuse you. So, I will write what you need to know to make an informed decision. You are welcome to come and chat for further info, or individual recommendations.

You need to be the parent in the decision making process. Just as you would not allow a child to decide their every meal requirement, you need to decide what is best for your pet. In normally every case, the pet will fall in line with changes that improve their food because it better satisfies their body.

Wet or Dry?

The first assessment is whether you should be feeding wet or dry food.

Pro's and Con's are straight forward:

  • Wet food is much more expensive than dry food.
  • Wet food can produce wetter faeces - wetter food in, wetter movements out.
  • Dry food helps clean teeth.
  • Wet food will pass through the digestive tract faster.
  • Dry food can have a more controlled release of energy as it is broken down at varying rates - depending on type.
  • There is more industry involved with Dry food, so more choice.
  • Kittens must have wet food as part of their diet for the first 6 months of life, and on occasion thereafter.
  • Dry food can lead to dehydration in dogs and cats - especially in cats, so water consumption should be monitored.

In a nutshell, the majority of us feed Dry food for the above reasons.

But which one is correct?

We would all agree that the "best" food is the highest quality that you can afford - BUT please do NOT look at the bag price. You need to look at the cost/day as that is the real cost of food.

All foods are measured for daily intake based on how many calories they deliver per unit of food. Higher quality foods will deliver more calories in less food - which means less waste to pick up.

So, knowing how many meals you get will dictate the cost per day. Imagine I sold you a food bag that was $50. And then I told you that it would last the weekend. That is $25 per day, and you would probably agree that it would be a very expensive food indeed. Now, imagine I said that the same food bag would last 6 weeks - the food now costs less than $1.20 per day. It is important to know that although some foods seem expensive per bag, we need to look at the cost per day to understand the true value.

In all cases, we would recommend buying the best value product that you can afford, and that that product should be from the Super Premium food range. Super Premium has more science and development to ensure it best matches the needs of the pet.

Ingredients and What they Need.

So, now that we have chosen a great value Super Premium food - I am still not telling you anything new I imagine. You need to look beyond the sleek, pretty marketing of the bag, and check out the ingredients.

There is no other way of writing this except that CATS ARE CARNIVORES. You Must look for foods that are designed for a carnivore. You are not a carnivore, and as such have a different set of desires. You cat's foods needs are both complex to us, yet simple - High Quality Meat Protein with moderate levels of Fat. The cat must ingest Taurine, and will do best with added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Cats do NOT have the enzyme to break down many of the fillers and grains that are in their food. So, it does not make sense to feed them this. On top of that, their waste is considerably smaller if they are not eating "waste" in their food. When your cat produces less waste, you not only improve their health, but you also save on litter.

For DOGS, you have a large choice these days. You will be totally bamboozled by information - strike that - marketing. Some dogs will perform better on grained, others on grain free. The quality of the protein, the type of protein, and type of carbohydrate, and the release rate of energy in the body will decide what is best for the individual. There is not one bag that is best for all. You may need to trial a couple before you see the results you want - and we specialise in that process.

Furthermore, when looking at the ingredients, you need to understand that the list is written as WET WEIGHT (before cooking), so the actual amount meat may be less if it is not a "meal" ingredient. You may also see that some protein sources are listed as MeatA and/or MeatB and/or MeatC; these are varying ratios of proteins and can produce inconsistencies in the food, whilst allowing the manufacturer to choose between the cheapest of the three to make the food - I would not use such a product, nor sell it.

Some also use Meat By-Product (meal or otherwise). The By-Product is the remnants after all the good parts have been removed. It can contain cartilage, connective tissue, perhaps part of skin, beak, organs and more. Whilst I am not against the use of By-Products since it can add to proteins and give other requirements in their diet - I am against the use of By-Products as the main or only source of Meat protein.

Finally, be savvy to the fact that some of these manufacturers use ingredient splitting in order to hide the individual weights throughout the ingredient listing. The individual components may add to a considerable sum of a less-than-desired ingredient. For example, they may use varying parts of Corn (a hard to digest, cheap ingredient) and use them based on individual weights. But the sum of the parts may be more than the whole. The pet may be consuming more corn than you thought.

The first 5-7 ingredients generally make up the vast majority of a food. So check for high quality named Meat Protein sources - ideally from a "meal" variety. Look for easy to digest carbohydrate source, and a blend of vitamins and minerals - derived naturally (Holistic) with veggies and fruits. Look for additional minerals, and a natural preservative. In the end, I would also check with the seller that the bag has a performance or palatability guarantee - all of ours do.

We can even choose from foods that help with issues such as skin sensitivity, stomach upsets, bowel and digestion issues, and more.

We get asked a little bit about Raw diets. This is something that needs careful consideration. Firstly, a raw diet increases the amount of bacteria around pets, and although their body can handle it, the young and elderly in our community may not. Secondly, the recipe needs to be done right - with the right balance for them; not for what we may want to eat, but for what their body needs. For those that really want to do Raw diets, I only recommend the recipes from the Natural Animal Solutions [link]. We sell the supplements for this range which complete and meet the needs of the pets.

If you need more help - please ask us. Come in for a chat. The best results may be a blend of foods, additional supplements, and/or a change in routine. I am happy to have those chats to help you.

You will find when you come in that many of the obvious big brands that may be well marketed are absent from my shelves ... I have already assessed just about all foods based on ingredients, quality, value, and performance. We have a great selection of foods that work; that deliver on benefits; and that are great value. 

The Pet Whisperer.