ASK THE VETS: Here’s how to choose among pet foods | Columns

It can be difficult to find the type of preservative. I look for foods that use tocopherol, a source of vitamin E, as a preservative. This natural approach avoids the chemical preservatives that most people would like to avoid. Most premium diets offer “all-natural” lines or avoid preservatives and artificial colorings.

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There are even some organic pet foods that have made their way onto the market. Be especially careful in choosing organic pet food. Many of these small businesses lack the resources to provide appropriate scientific support and animal nutrition testing. Also, the definition of “membership” varies widely among these smaller, minimally regulated companies.

I’ve heard that feeding a homemade diet may be better than commercial pet foods. Is this correct?

of course not! Purina, Hills, Royal Canin and other major manufacturers are hiring hundreds of veterinarians and scientists to study the absolute best ways to feed pets. Homemade diets bring back the calendar to a time when pets didn’t benefit from decades of nutritional research. The life expectancy of pets has doubled in the past 50 years, largely due to advances in nutrition.

As just one example, 20 years ago, it was common for cats to die from a serious heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy. Today, the disease has been almost completely eradicated by feeding modern pet foods. I have seen only one sad case of this disease. This cat basically died from a homemade diet. To maintain the correct balance of nutrients in your pet’s diet, make sure that 90 percent of daily calories come from a balanced diet. Less than 10 percent should be processed foods or low-fat table foods.


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