How To Choose The Right Pet Food

One of the most common questions people ask is:  What is the right food for my pet?  

The answer:  There is no one answer.  Just like humans, there is no one perfect food that meets the needs of every individual pet.  And just because something works for one person’s dog or cat doesn’t mean it’s the best food for yours.

What should I consider when evaluating pet food?  All you really need to do is read the ingredients – not the pretty pictures and advertising claims on the front of the bag. 

There are three basic rules to follow to get improved quality for your pets.

Three Simple Rules

Rule #1 – A named meat and/or named meat meal should be the primary ingredients.

Protein is the most important part of a dog or cat’s diet and the most expensive ingredient for manufacturers.  Protein sources should be specifically named – Chicken, Lamb Meal, Beef, Salmon Meal, etc. – to ensure the highest quality.  Preferably, the first ingredient should be a specified meat meal or a specified fresh meat followed by a meat meal.  Fresh meat contains up to 80% water which is lost in processing and will shrink the actual meat content considerably.  Meat meals are highly concentrated protein sources with the moisture already removed and are desirable in pet food.  Avoid:  By-products of any type, generically named protein or fat sources such as “poultry”, “animal”, or “meat” which could include road kill, shelter killed animals (yes, other dogs or cats) or 4-D meats (dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals).

Rule #2 – Look for Quality Carbohydrate and Fiber Sources, Limit or Eliminate Corn

Grains like corn, wheat, barley, oats and rice are commonly used in pet food.  Some are good sources of carbohydrates, but others are only filler.  Corn is frequently used in cheap pet food as a primary ingredient.  “Grain free” pet foods use products such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca, lentils or peas as carbohydrate sources.  Grains should be listed as “ground” or “meal” to retain their whole grain unprocessed nutrients.  Avoid:  A grain as the primary ingredient, ingredient splitting (for example, listing rice, rice flour and rice bran that when added together would appear much higher on the ingredient list), grain fragments (like brewers rice) or flour.

Rule #3 – Avoid Chemical Preservatives, Sweeteners, and Dyes – Look for Good Add-ins

This is pretty self-explanatory, but look for natural preservatives.  Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Rosemary, Sage, Clove, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid and other forms of Vitamin C.  Chicken Cartilage for Glucosamine and Chondroitin, probiotics added after cooking, Omega 6 and Omega3 fatty acids in a minimum ratio of 6:1, and chelated minerals for better absorption are all quality additions.  Avoid:  BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, menadione, corn syrup, sugar, any dyes.

The final rule:  Make a choice that is right for you, your budget and your pet’s preference.  Your dog or cat will thank you.

If you read the ingredients and follow these simple rules, you will be well on your way to giving your pet a quality, nutritious food.  You will quickly find that almost every brand sold at your local grocery store fails the simple tests.  But you don’t have to pick a high protein, grain free, low ingredient, raw food at the most expensive price point to give your pet a healthy food.  There are plenty of options to choose from, whether you are going hard core into pet nutrition or just wanting to give your pet something a little better.  At Rocket Petz, we have done the research for you to give you only healthy choices because every one of our pet foods follows the Three Simple Rules.  You can even compare our foods with full nutritional information listed for each product on our site.  If you still can’t decide, order a sample pack and test some of the brands we offer.  Or call us, and we’ll help you narrow down your choices.