Food is not just another item on the list of care teachers should have with their pets. Providing good quality food in quantities and characteristics compatible with the size, breed and age of the pet ensures longevity and health. But, how do you decide which of these foods are good?
The first step is to choose the food that best suits the species, life stage (puppy, adult or elderly) and the size of the pet, as nutritional needs vary.
Providing food for adult dogs, for example, can stunt growth and cause often irreversible osteoarthritis diseases.
As harmful as giving a cat dog food, which can lead to changes in the heart,” says Monique Balodaytia veterinary nutritionist at Pet Care Hospital.
The second step, according to Monique, is the selection of high-quality products from companies that have research centers and the publication of technical materials to expand the knowledge of both educators and veterinarians.
Looking for “super quality” foods to be identified on the packaging is another tip. A diet with high levels of carbohydrates, low in proteins, or poor quality proteins and high fat content can adversely affect the lifespan of the pet.
Therefore, you should always choose rich foods and adequate, balanced diets,” says Allen Gisele Derson Arinari, veterinarian at Petz/Seres.
Dry or wet feed?
As for this eternal dilemma, Monique says that while dehydration is more cost-effective, practical and permanent, wetness is more acceptable and encourages animals to drink more water.
To feed an animal wet food, you need a much larger amount than if you chose dry food. This is because dry feed, containing only 6%-10% moisture and a much higher calorie density, supplies the animal’s nutritional needs in a small amount.
On the other hand, the wet type has about 75% moisture and a much lower caloric density, so it needs a much larger amount of food to meet the minimum requirements.
For young dogs, cats, and animals that drink little water or are on a diet to lose weight, the exclusive use of wet foods or so-called “mixed feeding” with a mixture of wet and dry food can be very beneficial in animals, says the nutritionist.
Selective animals with a demanding taste can also benefit from using wet food,” he says.
In the case of cats, Allen says that because they have their ancestors’ habit of eating less water, a moist food supply is essential to keeping cats who are more susceptible to kidney disease healthy.
To connect the dry and wet diet, it is necessary for the vet to calculate the amount of daily intake.
In addition, labels of wet food rations, which should contain the words “complete and balanced food”, which means that they contain all the nutrients and can be used as a substitute for dry rations.
First of all, it is important to maintain optimal environmental conditions for cats to absorb more water – such as drinking fountains around the house.
For animals that still drink little or no water during the day, it is essential to use wet rations in order to indirectly increase their water intake, says Monique.
The search for more natural foods and the abundance of brands available with this suggestion in pet stores has delighted many dog and cat educators. However, Allen cautions that no diet is 100% perfect and that the pet’s need for the food you want to choose is what needs to be taken into account.
According to Monique, it is important to analyze factors of race, gender, temperament, age, presence of diseases, long hair, short hair, and size. But natural diets can be good choices, as long as they contain great sources of protein, fat and fiber.
Which costs more?
The weight in your pocket is also a factor to consider when choosing the type of food to serve to your best friend.
Overall, the difference in expenses between dry and wet foods is huge, says Cobasi biologist and content coordinator, Thiago Sá. In both dry and wet rations there are higher quality (and therefore higher value) and staple (and cheaper) foods.
The amount invested in pet food will depend a lot on the brand of the product and the daily volume consumed,” says Sa.
He also says that the teacher’s advice to assess the difference in costs between types of food is to divide the total amount of monthly expenses by the days of the month. The result will be the daily cost of pet food.
It’s time for a change: Beware
Whatever the choice, taking into account all the peculiarities indicated by the specialists, it is important for the master to pay attention to cases of transition from one diet to another, because ideally this happens gradually.
Dogs and cats have sensitive digestive systems and the exchange of feed should always be gradual to avoid gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhoea.
In addition to the gradual exchange that allows the gut flora to adapt to the new food, it also allows the animal to get used to the taste of the new food, avoiding rejection,” explains Monique.
She adds that the ideal is for the change to take place in at least four days, adding 25% of the new food and removing 25% of the old food every day, until the fourth day is reached by introducing only the new food.