With all of the love our pets show for food, many pet parents no doubt want to provide the best type of food possible for their loving friends. But how do you begin to dissect which type of food is best for your animal?
If you are like most of us, you head to that aisle in the grocery or pet store, and then frantically grab whichever bag seems the most nutritious and has the happiest looking pet face on it! This way you can at least feel somewhat confident that you made the right choice and also avoid the confusion of so many choices.
You basically have only four options for pet food: canned, dry, semi-moist, or home-made.
But when you go to the store to pick up food, these choices suddenly multiply exponentially! So, to ease your shopping pains…we are going to highlight the pros and cons of all the foods you might find at the store.
Read on to find out what you need to know to buy your pup and kitten healthy food! You will find that it is much easier than it seems!
Starting With Dogs: Should I Use Dry or Canned?
We all love our pets so much. And they deserve the best. Is there really much of a difference between the kinds of food available at the store and the kind of foods that our pets need?
Between canned and dry food, is there a better choice? There are some pros and cons to each type, and the type that will work best for your pet will depend on a couple of things. We have listed the pros and cons for you here below.
Dry Dog Food
Dry dog food is arguably the most popular kind of dog food that you can buy. But there are some dry dog foods out on the market that are not so great, though their marketing might make you think they are!
Try to buy dog food that comes with *AAFCO certification on the label. (Association of American Feed Control Officials)
The AAFCO certification means that the dog food you chose has the required balance of nutrients your dog will need each day! If the certification is not there, then all the marketing gimmicks in the world (like “holistic,” “natural,” or “healthy”) cannot provide the promise of certified nutrient levels.
Pros of dry dog food:
- Dry dog food is good for your dog’s teeth. The dry food makes it less likely for plaque to build up in your pup’s mouth. See our articles from last month about how plaque can cause heart problems, kidney failure, lost teeth and other issues.
- High-quality dry dog food has all of the ingredients in it that your dog needs to have a balanced diet.
Dry dog food drawbacks:
- If you feed your dog dry food, he might get dehydrated if you are not careful. The dry food sucks up moisture in your dog’s body. He might not actually drink enough water along with his food to properly combat the dehydration, so you might want to add a little water to his food. Or you may want to just make sure you take him to his water bowl frequently!
Canned Dog Food
Canned dog food, like dried dog food, can be very good for your dog depending on the ingredients within it! As long as a dog food has AAFCO on the label, then you can be fairly certain it will contain the nutrients your dog needs.
Pros of canned food:
- If there is one good thing that can be strongly stated about canned dog food, it is this: dogs love it! It smells good and tastes delicious to them!
- Canned food does have potential to have all of the nutrients your pup will need!
Drawbacks for canned food:
- Canned food is moist, and so it increases the likelihood of plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth. You can combat this by brushing your pup’s teeth thoroughly each day!
- Also, canned food is usually more expensive than dry dog food.
What About Semi-Moist Food?
Don’t do it!
Don’t buy semi-moist dog food. Don’t buy semi-moist cat food. Companies have to put so many chemicals in their semi-moist food, that it is like fast-food for pets.
Basically, it is very unhealthy most of the time! Avoid semi-moist food for your cats and dogs. It’s not worth it!
How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?
See the chart above for a breakdown of just how much food you should give to your dog after you have selected a brand.
On to Cats: Should You Buy Canned or Dry?
Dry Cat Food
There is one, and only one, good thing about dry cat food. Well, maybe there are two positives!
But only two positives is most definitely not optimal for you pet! So, what is wrong with dry cat food, and why should you go with canned food? Read on for the breakdown.
Pros of dry cat food:
- Most cats love it. Some cats can even become addicted to the crunchy experience of eating it.
- Dry cat food tends to be easier to serve and clean up.
Cons of dry cat food:
- Cats are carnivores! They do not eat vegetables. Dry cat food is made up mostly of vegetables and other nutrients. Therefore, you want to steer clear of the dry food! Your cat will not be eating what he needs to eat if you feed him dry food!
- Additionally, the consumption of large amounts of dry cat food has led to cat obesity and other health problems in many instances. See here for more details.
Canned Cat Food
So, if you should not serve dry food to your cat, is canned always the way to go?
You can feed your cat homemade food. If you do that, you want to make sure you study up on how to serve meat that does not have a high risk of salmonella, and you also want to make sure you serve a balanced set of food which is definitely doable.
But if you are going the route of buying canned food, what should you look for?
- Make sure the canned food is indeed meat-based. The whole point of buying canned food is to get away from veggie-based food. But some canned foods actually are still veggie based, so look at the label!
- Look to see if the canned food is AAFCO certified, just like you would with dog food.
*AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials, and it is a non-government agency which is made up of veterinarians and other nutrients experts who test food to determine if it includes all of the nutrient levels necessary for the average cat or dog.
The AAFCO is a highly reputable source for assessing pet food, and is there to your advantage! If you see a can or bag of food that is without this label, it is probably best to keep looking down the aisle for a healthier option!