It’s Sunday again which means it’s time to talk about pets again!
This week we’re going to talk about different types of pet diets.
Pet diets have come a long way in the past years and instead of only a few simple options and a handful of companies, we now maybe have too many.
So lets talk about the basics. There are two main types of diets:
- Home prepared – No doubt about it, this is the best option for your pet. He/She will only get fresh ingredients and the best parts of the protein you choose to use and you can always have the peace of mind of knowing in what conditions the food was prepared and stored, besides the fact that it’s cheaper. The big, enormous, gigantic problems with this type of diet is that it requires very close adherence to instructions given by a pet nutritionist and a large amount of time for preparing the food.
Why a nutritionist?
Seriously, before starting Vet School I didn’t even know this was a thing but apparently it’s important. Seeing as a pet’s diet includes many different factors such as protein, carbohydrates, fiber, essential amino acids (the things that build proteins) and more, you have to talk to someone who can calculate the amounts of every component for you and explain what types of products you can use. This is very important and it’s not just about the calories, everything has to be exactly balanced, because if any component is missing it could cause massive issues with your pet’s health. This is why you DO NOT just use a recipe you “found on the internet” or a friend told you about. Each pet is different, from breed to size to sex and they all need special attention to details. The second point? preparation time. Many pet owners usually take a day during the weekend in order to prepare food for the whole week otherwise this could become difficult on a daily basis. You have to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare the food.
But seriously, if you have the time (maybe you work from home or are a stay at home parent etc.) and understand everything you have to do then go for this option.
- Store bought – This is the regular type you buy from stores whether it’s dry or wet food. The negative side is that you really don’t want to know what goes into that food, besides the fact that many companies hold dogs in labs for years and years for taste tests, which aren’t as good as they sound (although there are some good cruelty free companies).
The positive side is that this diet is already balanced, meaning if you buy from a good company you can rest assured your pet is covered (especially important in puppies for example), besides the fact that this is the least time consuming thing you can do all day – open the bag, measure amount, give to your dog/cat. This is of course the diet we use for Sammy, although I wish we had the time and capabilities to maintain a home cooked one, especially since he has a somewhat sensitive digestive system. It took ages to find him the right food.
But in this group we also have a lot of niche diets, some of them being:
Breed specific diets – How many of you have noticed this at the pet store? Companies such as Royal Canin have started to market these to pure bread owners so you can see on shelves packages claiming to be specifically for Labradors, Beagles, Chihuahuas and so on playing on each breed’s specific traits. But this my friends, is no more than good marketing. If labs have a tendency for being overweight just by them diet food and if chihuahuas have sensitive skin then buy something for that. Why pay more for food that is already on the market?
Diet food – I’ll get into this more when I do a post about overweight pets but this food is actually important for pets that need to shed some weight. Because just giving your pet less food will only leave them hungry and lacking in nutrients and protein, this type of food contains high amounts of fiber to make your pet feel full, a lower percentage of fat and the right amount of proteins so as not to lose muscle mass during the weight loss process. Consult your vet on this.
Prescription diets – These are specific diets for specific medical conditions. For example, cats have many renal problems so there is special “renal” food meant to treat this issue and many this works very well. Problems aren’t completely solved but they alleviate greatly to the point where pharmaceuticals are no longer needed. You definitely have to consult your vet about these diets.
Vegetarian diet – this can be achieved by either of the two options. But let’s discuss this for a minute. This diet can be very dangerous for cats and dogs since years of evolution have designed their anatomy to fit a carnivorous (meat eating) diet, meaning that we can’t just thrust our lifestyle on them and think they will be ok. Opinions today generally say that dogs can actually handle this sort of diet if well balanced since nowadays they eat pretty much everything, while cats are and will always be STRICT carnivores. This means that they need special requirements that can only be satisfied by meat, which is why many times you hear of a cat dying due to a vegetarian diet.
There are some vegetarian pet food companies today but not many and I guess they have to take extra care of making everything balanced otherwise they would be killing pets and go out of business.
In short you should of course always consult a nutritionist, but in my opinion we shouldn’t force our pets to be something they aren’t.