What Food Is Best to Feed My Cat or Dog?
One of the most common questions I get asked revolves around what food is best to feed my cat or dog. Keeping in mind that most of my patients are sick, and many of them have issues with their appetite, the best answer for my patients is the balanced food that meets their nutritional needs which they will eat. The pet food manufacturers have done a fantastic job of making wonderful diets that work well and help with many different disease states. However, some patients that could really benefit from one of these special diets will just not eat it. In that case, it is definitely better for one of my patients to eat, rather than stare at a prescription diet that they will not eat.
A tremendous amount of our worry about our pets comes when they will not eat. Most of us associate eating and appetite with their quality of life. In many pets that is definitely true. I know when our Jack Russell, Tink, is sick, if she misses a meal. One of the mistakes we make with food relates to feeding the latest fad diet, or what we would like to eat ourselves, or thinking about our dogs and cats as something that are not. For instance, many of my clients feed high priced raw diets, because that is what they their pet would eat in the wild. Unfortunately, raw diets are fraught with problems, not the least of which are infectious organisms such as bacteria and protozoa. I am a big fan of cooked diets with our pets. Also, dogs are not small, indoor wolves, and cats are not small, domestic tigers. As all of us know, dogs are omnivores, and cats are obligate carnivores. Dogs have made a career out of being our best friends and scavenging from humans. Cats have made a great career by causing us to love and feed them in spite of ignoring us!
Another example of a fad diet that has the potential for issues, is a grain free diet. Certain grain free diets have been implicated as a potential causal factor in the development of dilated cardiomyopathy in some dogs. This is an example of a diet change that has been made without a lot of data. Additionally, some chicken jerky treats have been implicated in causing a severe problem with the kidneys, renal tubular acidosis (Fanconi Syndrome).
All of my clients want what is best for their beloved pet, as do we as veterinarians. If you are making dietary choices for your pet, please discuss them with your family veterinarian. Often there is a medical reason why we want them to eat a special diet. Oh, and if they will not eat the diet we recommend, please let us know so we can help with another recommendation!