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Choosing the Right Food for Your Pet
There is a wide range of quality prepared pet foods available to
Australian pet owners. This variety means that pet owners can choose
the foods that provide their pet with the nutrition it needs and the
product style that they and their pets prefer.
Pets are individuals and owners decide on what foods meet their
particular circumstances. This includes consideration of the pet's
activity level, lifestyle and lifestage (e.g puppy vs adult), the pet's
preferences in regards to food and the owner's opinion regarding
convenience, cost, variety and suitability of various available pet
foods. There is no particular right way to feed pets, as long as the
nutritional needs of the dog or cat are being met. In many cases owners
"mix and match" a variety of different types of pet foods and that's
fine, providing owners observe a couple of important things with regards
to their pet's food:
The food should provide the correct amount, balance and availability of
the nutrients to meet the nutritional needs of the pet for physical and
mental health and activity. Look for a statement on the packaging about
nutritional completeness, which often includes a reference to a
globally recognised organisation called AAFCO1.
The food offered should be sufficiently concentrated to enable the dog
or cat to meet its nutritional needs by eating a reasonable amount of
the food provided and easily digested, so that the stools of the pet
are well formed, making it easy to clean up.
Palatability is an important consideration, to ensure the food is
eagerly consumed, since an uneaten meal has no nutritional value.
Feeding time should be an enjoyable experience and rewarding for both
the owner and the pet.
Foods must provide the following:
Energy (measured in calories or joules) which the dog
or cat needs for muscle function for movement, a wide variety of bodily
functions and to keep itself warm.
Proteins and other nutrients for growth, repairing
body tissues or for reproduction.
Fats for energy and essential fatty acids .
Vitamins, minerals and other micro-nutrients to
regulate these processes.
Water should always be available.
If in doubt, your vet can help provide advice about care and feeding of
Prepared pet foods offer many choices to feed a complete and balanced
diet while providing safety and convenience. They also offer the
opportunity for flavour or texture variety while maintaining consistency
of feeding, helping to avoid digestive upsets.
The nutritional requirements of a pet changes throughout its life and is
influenced by factors such as: age, whether the pet is active or
sedentary, reproduction status, the state of the pet's health and
environmental conditions. In meeting the particular needs of an
individual animal the owner must provide the required amount and correct
balance of energy and essential nutrients in a quantity of food the pet
will consume. Since animals eat primarily to meet their calorie
requirements, essential nutrients need to be present in the correct
amounts relative to the energy (calories) in the food. This is what is
meant by "complete and balanced" nutrition.
The choice of food type for pet dogs and cats is very much a personal
matter. While various factors are involved in this choice, the main
points to consider are:
Owner preference for a type of feeding (e.g. canned, dry & canned
The feeding habits of the pet. Every pet is different and each may have
personal preferences for canned, chilled rolls and tubs, sachet or dry
foods. Of course, many pets enjoy the variety offered by combining
these pet foods.
Economic considerations and convenience.
Functional foods, treats & veterinary diets
Over recent years, there has been rapid development in the range of
treats and functional foods available for pets. These include treats to
help train your pup or simply reward your cat or dog at any time. There's
a wide variety of nutrient fortified supplements, dry foods and treats
designed to assist in teeth and gum health, foods for cats prone to fur
balls and many other specialised foods, treats and snacks available for
your pet. Veterinarians also stock and prescribe a wide range of
specialised pet foods designed to provide for a pet's specific needs and
to assist in the management of a range of medical conditions. Your
veterinarian can provide professional advice regarding feeding and care
for your pet.
How much should I feed my pet?
Feeding recommendations are usually included on prepared pet food
packaging and these provide owners with a good guide to get started,
although it should be recognised that recommendations are intended as a
guide only to provide an approximate estimate of a pet's nutritional
needs. As dogs and cats vary significantly in their size, activity level,
life stage and the environment in which they are kept, over time the
owner needs to keep an eye on the body condition of the pet and decide
whether to feed more or less and what kind of food is best suited to
their requirements. Pets are adaptable and there are many different and
equally successful ways to feed pets well. If in doubt, your Veterinarian
can provide further advice.
There is a wide range of quality, prepared commercial pet foods now
available through supermarkets and mass merchandise outlets, specialist
pet supply retailers, veterinary clinics, rural supply outlets and on-
line reThere is a wide range of quality, prepared commercial pet foods
now available through supermarkets and mass merchandise outlets,
specialist pet supply retailers, veterinary clinics, rural supply
outlets and on- line retailers, providing today's pet owner with many
choices and product types.
These pet foods provide a great basis for your pet's diet, delivering
variety, palatability, consistency and safety, making for a content pet
This article is for general information only:
This information is provided by the PFIAA as general information only.
For advice and information concerning feeding your individual pet, we
recommend that you seek the advice of your veterinarian.
1. [AAFCO : the Association of American Feed Control Officials